St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery is located at 131 East 10th Street, at the intersection of Stuyvesant Street and Second Avenue in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. The property has been the site of continuous Christian worship for more than three and a half centuries; it is New York's oldest site of continuous religious practice, and the church is the second-oldest church building in Manhattan.
In 1651, Petrus Stuyvesant, Governor of New Amsterdam, purchased land for a bowery or farm from the Dutch West India Company and by 1660 built a family chapel at the present day site of St. Marks Church. Stuyvesant died in 1672 and was interred in a vault under the chapel.
St Mark's has supported an active artistic community since the 1800s. In 1919 poet Kahlil Gibran was appointed a member of the St. Mark's Arts Committee, and the next year, the two prominent Indian statues, "Aspiration" and "Inspiration" by sculptor Solon Borglum, which flank the church entry, were unveiled. Isadora Duncan danced in the church in 1922, and Martha Graham in 1930. In 1926, poet William Carlos Williams lectured at the St. Mark's Sunday Symposium, which over the years featured such artists as Amy Lowell, Edward Steichen, Houdini, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ruth St. Denis and Carl Sandburg.
Theatre Genesis was founded by director Ralph Cook in 1964 and, in the same year, Sam Shepard had his first two plays, Cowboys and Rock Garden produced at the church. In 1969, St. Mark's innovated a fusion of liturgy and experimental rock music, the Electric Liturgy given by the Mind Garage, which was the first work of its kind to be nationally televised.
St. Mark's hosts modern artistic endeavors, including the Poetry Project, and Danspace Project, which stage events throughout the year. A November 1971 Poetry Project reading by Patti Smith, accompanied by Lenny Kaye on guitar, launched their rock and roll careers and marked the founding of the Patti Smith Group. In addition, Richard Foreman's avant-garde Ontological-Hysteric Theater was also housed there in its own space from 1992 until 2010.