Psychedelic New York: A Short History of LSD in a Global Metropolis

Dr. Christian Elcock

In the standard narratives surrounding the history of LSD and psychedelics, the American West coast looms large and has obscured other parts of the country like New York City. In fact, Gotham enjoyed a uniquely rich psychedelic moment from the late 1950s onward by virtue of its proximity to a Sandoz plant in New Jersey that was manufacturing LSD and psilocybin, which easily found a receptive audience in Greenwich Village – the country’s capital urban Bohemia. As an international hub for finance, media, and the arts, the city gave rise to a unique psychedelic culture that reached a broad range of New Yorkers. While the end of the decade saw important changes that greatly affected this culture, a closer examination reveals that psychedelic drug use did not disappear with the 1960s, at a time when the metropolis was on the brink of bankruptcy. The sixth speaker in the Centre for Access to Information and Justice (CAIJ) Psychedelics: Past, Present, Future Webinar Series.



Chris Elcock is an independent historian of LSD and psychedelics based in France. He received his PhD in 2015 from the University of Saskatchewan and under the supervision of Canada Research Chair Dr. Erika Dyck. In 2013 he was the recipient of the American Culture Association’s William M. Jones Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper in American Culture for his work on the American psychedelic movement. He is currently finishing a monograph on the history of LSD in New York City and coediting a book on the international history of psychedelics. He is the cofounder of the Société psychédélique de Lyon, a non-profit organization dedicated to psychedelic science popularization and harm-reduction, and more recently he has worked on Usona Institute’s Porta Sophia prior art database.