Local Current Blog

Bob Dylan’s former Harlem townhouse for sale at $3.6 million


Bob Dylan’s former Harlem townhouse is up for sale, and it could be yours for just under $3.6 million. Originally built in 1890, by the storied McKim, Mead & White architectural firm, the townhouse was owned by Dylan from the 1980s until 2000. It was sold for $560,000 to its current owners. According to a real estate listing, the townhouse features “five bedrooms, three baths, six fireplaces with original mantels, formal dining room, large living room with Juliette balcony, a library, inlaid hardwood floors, crown molding, wainscoting and high ceilings.”

Located in the St. Nicholas Historic District, the four-story, 3,952-square-foot townhouse pays homage to its history while also incorporating 21st-century updates such as a fully renovated kitchen (complete with a sub-zero freezer).

Dylan first moved to New York City in 1961 as a 19-year-old drop-out from the University of Minnesota. His first stop in the city was Greenwich Village’s Cafe Wha? where he met Fred Neil, who was the cafe’s emcee at the time. He ended up inviting Dylan to play harmonica during his sets. Manny Roth (the uncle of Van Halen’s David Lee Roth) ran the cafe, and gave Dylan a regular spot on the afternoon shift. Eventually, Roth fired him after being late to three gigs.

Dylan’s first apartment in New York was on 161 West Fourth Street. He started living there in December of 1961 with girlfriend Suze Rotolo. The apartment was sold in 2015 for $6 million.

As Dylan’s success began to skyrocket following the The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Dylan and his wife Sara decided to move upstate New York to escape the buzz of the city. They returned to Greenwich Village in 1969, and later divorced.

What brought Dylan to the Harlem neighborhood in the 1980s? According to a 1987 report in New York magazine, “Dylan paid $395,000 for the four-story townhouse. The singer’s spokesman, who said he didn’t know if the purchase was inspired by the Waller song, says Dylan does not intend to use the house. He plans to rent it or lend it to friends.” (The Fats Waller song being referenced was “Striver’s Row,” which made the neighborhood famous.)

So, Dylan probably wasn’t hanging out in this townhouse when he was writing Under the Red Sky. Maybe that’s just as well.