In what has become a ritual of tragedy, residents of the West Village convened by the hundreds over the weekend in front of the Bethune Street apartment where actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died on Saturday.
Police erected parade-style barriers to fence off fans and neighbors, who began to congregate almost immediately following news of the actor's apparent drug overdose. Hoffman was often seen in the neighborhood with his three children. His regular presence in the West Village -- along with his work with the LAByrinth Theater near Astor Place and his regular appearances on Broadway in midtown -- made his death that much more poignant for New Yorkers, who proudly embraced the Hollywood actor as one of their own.
Hoffman's death came almost exactly five years after the overdose of Heath Ledger, another much-praised actor, and Hoffman friend, who died in an apartment on Broome Street. a few blocks away. Then, too, neighbors gathered in front of Ledger's apartment, waiting to catch a grim glimpse of his body, gathered together to mourn the loss.