Bob Egan, Detective Extraordinaire, Finds the Real Locations of Iconic Album Covers

By day, Bob Egan is a mild-man­nered com­mer­cial real estate agent in New York City. By night, and on week­ends, he trans­forms him­self into some­thing of a pop cul­ture detec­tive, search­ing out the loca­tions of famous record album cov­ers and oth­er famous pop images. About a year ago he start­ed a Web site, PopSpot­sNYC, to share his find­ings, and the site has been grow­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty ever since.

Egan’s fas­ci­na­tion with album cov­er loca­tions began in 1977, when he moved to his first apart­ment in Green­wich Vil­lage and dis­cov­ered he was only a block away from the place on Jones Street where The Free­wheel­in’ Bob Dylan cov­er pho­to­graph was shot in 1963, which showed Dylan walk­ing arm-in-arm with his girl­friend, Suze Roto­lo, on a cold Feb­ru­ary day.

“Liv­ing in Green­wich Vil­lage in the late 70s,” Egan told Open Cul­ture, “I was sur­round­ed by sites I had read about in col­lege: Bleeck­er and Mac­dou­gal, The Bot­tom Line, the Mudd Club, CBG­B’s, etc. I was soak­ing up infor­ma­tion for years lat­er, I guess, because it was­n’t until the mid 90s that I first went into Bleeck­er Bob’s and asked if they knew where the cov­er of Blonde on Blonde was shot. When they did­n’t know, I said, Well why not find out myself?”

The Blonde on Blonde loca­tion remains a mys­tery, but Egan has tracked down a num­ber of oth­er Dylan cov­er loca­tions, includ­ing High­way 61 Revis­it­ed (the front steps of a town house on Gramer­cy Park West), Anoth­er Side of Bob Dylan (the cor­ner of 52nd Street and Broad­way), and the sin­gle “I Want You” (a ware­house dis­trict on Jacob Street that was torn down long ago).

The Jacob Street loca­tion, also the site of a July 30, 1966 Sat­ur­day Evening Post cov­er of Dylan, was one of the hard­est to find. “I searched through every curved street in New York and final­ly found it online in an old pho­to from the library,” Egan said. “The entire street, which was next to the Brook­lyn Bridge, had been demol­ished 50 years ago, but I final­ly clicked on a library image and found myself star­ing straight into the exact spot Dylan was in the pho­to. I let out a whoop!”

Egan has found the exact loca­tions of record albums and oth­er famous images of a num­ber of artists, includ­ing Bruce Spring­steen, Neil Young, The Who, and Simon & Gar­funkel. The choic­es reflect his taste in music. “I grew up dur­ing the clas­sic rock era,” Egan said. “My ‘musi­cal com­fort food’ is Dylan, Van Mor­ri­son, Lou Reed, and The Grate­ful Dead.”

Even though the Grate­ful Dead was a West Coast group, Egan makes use of online tools like Google Street View and Bing Bird’s Eye to explore loca­tions from his New York home. The 1970 album “Work­ing­man’s Dead” is one of Egan’s cur­rent projects. “The Dead pho­to was sup­pos­ed­ly tak­en next to a bus stop in the Mis­sion Dis­trict of San Fran­cis­co,” said Egan. “I bought a vin­tage map of the bus route from 1969 from the San Fran­cis­co tran­sit muse­um and searched all the bus routes through the Mis­sion with Street View, but still haven’t found it.”

When we asked Egan what dri­ves his obses­sion, he said, “I think of it like this: If I went to Eng­land and some­one asked me if I want­ed to see West­min­ster Abbey or Abbey Road, I’d take Abbey Road.”

Below are sev­er­al exam­ples of Egan’s detec­tive work. To see more, and to read the sto­ry behind each loca­tion, vis­it

The album cov­er that start­ed it all for Egan was The Free­wheel­in’ Bob Dylan, fea­tur­ing Don Hun­stein’s pho­to of Dylan and his girl­friend Suze Roto­lo walk­ing through snow at the north end of Jones Street, in Green­wich Vil­lage. 

The loca­tion of the cov­er pho­to of Dylan’s 1965 album High­way 61 Revis­it­ed posed a chal­lenge. Egan always assumed that Daniel Kramer’s pho­to of Dylan was tak­en indoors, but he even­tu­al­ly tracked it down to the front steps of a town house on Gramer­cy Park West that was the home of Dylan’s man­ag­er, Albert Gross­man. The per­son stand­ing behind Dylan in the pho­to, hold­ing a cam­era by its strap, is the singer’s friend Bob Neuwirth.

What could be more British than the 1979 cov­er of The Kids Are Alright, by The Who? Actu­al­ly, Art Kane’s pho­to was tak­en in Amer­i­ca, at the lit­tle-known Carl Schurz Mon­u­ment in the Morn­ing­side Heights area of New York City. Egan gives direc­tions on how to find the place at his Web site.

Egan found the pre­cise loca­tion of Hen­ry Park­er’s cov­er pho­to for Simon & Gar­funkel’s 1965 debut album, Wednes­day Mourn­ing 3 A.M.: the low­er sub­way plat­form at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, for the out­bound E and F lines.

Leo Fried­man’s cov­er pho­to­graph from the orig­i­nal 1957 cast record­ing of West Side Sto­ry shows char­ac­ters Maria (Car­ol Lawrence) and Tony (Lar­ry Kent) run­ning through the Hel­l’s Kitchen neigh­bor­hood of New York. The loca­tion was actu­al­ly one of Egan’s eas­i­er dis­cov­er­ies. “How did I find it,” he says on his Web site? “Pret­ty sim­ple. If you look close­ly at the garbage can to the left of Maria–the address is right on it! 418 West 56th Street.” (All images cour­tesy Bob Egan/

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