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Folk City

New York and the American Folk Music Revival

By Stephen Petrus and Ronald D. Cohen

From Washington Square Park and the Gaslight Café to WNYC Radio and Folkways Records, New York City’s cultural, artistic, and commercial assets helped to shape a distinctively urban breeding ground for the folk music revival of the 1950s and 60s. Folk City explores New York’s central role in fueling the nationwide craze for folk music in postwar America. It involves the efforts of record company producers and executives, club owners, concert promoters, festival organizers, musicologists, agents and managers, editors and writersand, of course, musicians and audiences.


Folk City is a magical token back to a clattering, incandescent New York, where Popular Front hootenannies gave way to the fretted hip of Gerde’s, the Gaslight, and the Folklore Center. Stephen Petrus and Ronald Cohen have written the best history yet of the city’s influential folk music culture, packed with astonishing photos that finally see the light of day.”—Sean Wilentz, author of Bob Dylan in America

“Yes, dear readers, there was a time not so long ago when urban troubadours sang of flowers more powerful than guns; a time when ideals put to song helped transform a culture. With compelling artistry, Stephen Petrus and Ronald Cohen capture the history behind that special moment and how New York’s diverse creative class made it happen.” —Thomas Kessner, Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York Graduate School

Folk City is beautifully written and illustrated, a mesmerizing history of one of the great moments in New York cultural history. The prose fairly sings off the page, and the photos and old poster and song sheets are fascinating. This will make you wish you were there.”–Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd

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