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woody guthrie locations

Posted on January 30, 2013 by peter bell

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born on July 14, 1911 in Okemah, Oklahoma.  Woody was named after the then soon-to-be elected president and was the son of businessman and local politician, Charles Edward Guthrie.  Woody’s mother, Nora Belle Guthrie was a homemaker who later died of Huntington’s disease- a neurological disease that Woody also inherited.

Although Woody Guthrie grew up in Okemah, OK, his adventures took him all over the country and abroad.  He combined his keen observational skill with wry wit and a passion for humanity.  Throughout the years, Guthrie produced a treasure trove of songs, poems, books, newspaper columns, radio programs, film appearances, photographs, and drawings that continue to inspire artists and thinkers today.


As Bob Dylan wrote in his poem, “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie”:

You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You’ll find God in the church of your choice
You’ll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it’s only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You’ll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown

Thanks to users crabapple, nevereatsshreddedwheat and corporate_sunshine for their contributions.  Here is a list of locations associated with America’s finest Dust-Bowl rambling balladeer.

 

  • Okemah, OK

  • Woody Guthrie boyhood home– Located in Okemah, OK, the boyhood home no longer stands on the lot, but the materials have been salvaged for future reconstruction.  A carving stands as a memorial on the grounds.
  • Brick Street Café– A restaurant that contains several pieces of Woody Guthrie memorabilia.
  • Woody Guthrie statue– This statue was dedicated during the 1998 Woody Guthrie Free Folk Festival.
  • Crystal Theater– A vaudeville theater that Guthrie used to sneak into- now a venue used for the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival.
  • Highland Cemetery– North of Okemah on Woody Guthrie Blvd is the Guthrie family plot, with a grave marker dedicated to Woody Guthrie (he was cremated).
  • Woody Guthrie water tower–  In 1972, this water tower was constructed with the words “Home of Woody Guthrie” painted on the side.
  • North Canadian River bridge– West of Okemah on Highway 56 is the bridge where a woman and her son were lynched in 1911.  Guthrie wrote several songs referring to this incident.
  • Other locations:

  • Coalinga, CA

  • Los Gatos Canyon– This is the site of the plane crash that inspired Guthrie to write, “Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos).”
  • Los Angeles, CA

  • KFVD radio station– Guthrie had a radio show at this station from 1937-1940.
  • Trinidad, CO

  • Ludlow Memorial– There is a historical marker here to honor the events that are described in Guthrie’s song “Ludlow Massacre.”
  • Calumet, MI

  • Italian Hall Disaster– There is a historical marker here (the Italian Hall Historical Marker) to honor the events at this location that led to Guthrie’s song, “1913 Massacre.”
  • Morristown, NJ

  • Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital– The hospital where Guthrie suffered from Huntington’s disease.  A 19-year-old Bob Dylan would visit Guthrie here.
  • New York, NY

  • “This land is your land”– The corner where Woody Guthrie wrote the famous song on February 23, 1940.
  • McSorley’s Ale House- A bar in the East Village where Guthrie used to perform.
  • Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital– Guthrie died here on October 3, 1967 from Huntington’s disease.
  • Coney Island, NY

  • Mermaid Avenue- The location in Coney Island where Guthrie once lived.  Wilco and Billy Bragg also named their album of Woody Guthrie’s material “Mermaid Avenue.”
  • Mount Kisco, NY

  • Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives– This is the largest collection of Guthrie material in the world.
  • Seattle, WA

  • Pike Place Market– A place that has been friendly to buskers (including Woody Guthrie) for years.
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