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David Bowie death: New York braves biting cold to pay respects at SoHo apartment

New York: David Bowie loved New York City, and it loved him right back. 

It was the English rock icon's adopted home, a place he had fantasised about in his teens, had helped shape during the exploding counter-culture movement of experimental music and art in the 1970s, and would eventually settle down in later in life.

On Monday, as devotees woke to the surprise news of his death, many of them, seeking a place of memorial, made their way in the biting cold to his apartment building in downtown Manhattan.

​"It just felt lonely being anywhere else," said Joanne Scarola, who lay a note outside the building. 

"I was 16 when I first saw him in concert in 1973... He was just amazing. [It was] partly the lyrics, that otherworldly sound of it, the uniqueness of it."


Many brought bouquets of flowers, or lit a candle, outside his building on the eastern edge of SoHo, an area once synonymous with the creative scene in New York, but where cheap artists' lofts have long since made way for multi-million dollar apartments. 

Other fans brought small, personal offerings with meanings that were presumably between them and Bowie - a tiny gold Eiffel Tower, a polished white stone.

Even as a noisy swarm of journalists and cameras built up outside the building, fans paused to claim their own quiet moment of reflection. One woman just put her hand down on the pavement, and then to her heart, before rushing away, others stood quietly to cry, heads bowed.

"I've loved David Bowie ever since I was nine years old," said Anna Nordahl, who wore her coat open to reveal a Bowie shirt, despite the wind chill of about minus four degrees celsius.

"I'm an older woman now so it's a big, big loss.

"Every song that you listen to, that he made, has a great memory to me, and I can remember what I did at that time when I listened to it."

"He's just a beautiful genius."

Some of those who came, like Matthew Gardner, were New Yorkers, who embraced Bowie as one of their own. 

"He's one of those guys who adopted New York because he was just that f---ing cool, and it was the only city cool enough to be his home, when he was at his peak," he said. 

"We were happy to have him here. He was a great New Yorker."

Gardner said he had struggled to concentrate at work that morning after hearing the news. Bowie had changed his life, he said.

"He made you not feel like the only weirdo, you know? If you felt a little different, you know. He came at everything from a completely different place."

Others who came were visitors who just happened to be in New York at the time of their idol's passing.

Tina Muir, from Sydney, said Bowie had been the soundtrack of her holiday with her daughter Bronwyn and granddaughter Lily for the last few weeks. The three generations of Australian women also came down to the building on Lafayette Street on Monday morning to take in the moment. 

"We all feel the same. It's intergenerational," she said.

"I saw Bowie when I lived in London in the sixties. This is this universality of Bowie, he could cut across all cultures." 

Sicco van Steenwijk had travelled to New York from the Netherlands last week to see the musical co-authored by Bowie, Lazarus, which is currently playing at the New York Theatre Workshop. He saw it the day before, and then was woken early this evening by news of Bowie's passing.

"I thought I should do something, for my feeling, so I thought it might be good to put some tulips from the Netherlands here," he said.

Tickets for Lazarus, which has been officially sold out for months, were selling on some third-party websites for more than $1200 on Monday.