Yes, yes. It’s true, most of Manhattan’s hippest neighborhoods emerged from a period of bohemia, the arts, and diverse cultures. So you might be wondering what gives this downtown neighborhood, the birthplace of punk and indie rock, an edge over the rest?
No shortcuts, we’re taking apart the East Village’s anatomy to get a closer look.
The soul of the neighborhood: Arts and Culture
We won’t deny it, there’s something really special about the East Village. It’s provincial, warm and welcoming, and the result of an eventful past of rock ‘n’ rollers and artists sweetened by an influx of cultures from the world. Today, you’ll find a younger demographic mostly students and young professionals gracing the stoops of its turn of the century walk-ups. Still, the Village is very livable and particularly rentable: apartments in brand new residential buildings, co-ops and condos, especially the luxury spaces in Red Square, which is almost Moscow but not quite (kind of like the “10th street baths”).
Here we love to indulge in the arts along Bowery Street, to hear wise words at Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe or the modern arts at The Hole or New Museum of Contemporary Art for relevant exhibitions, but also independent bookstores, record shops, and movie theaters like the Anthology Film Archives. It’s no surprise that this was where Andy Warhol’s original works were first debuted; a legacy continues, and one he would be very proud of.
The heart of the neighborhood: St. Marks Place
Perhaps no street personifies the life and times of the East Village better than St. Marks Place, A.K.A: “America’s Hippest Street” (F.Y.I., it’s also one of its the noisiest). It’s the street that has inspired musical groups like Led Zeppelin and the New York Dolls, where the phenom Hamilton begun at the Public Theater before taking off on Broadway, where a thrilling nightlife scene offers (hidden) after-hour stops, like the Prohibition-era speakeasies PDT (code for Please Don’t Tell) and Angel’s Share behind an unmarked door in a Japanese restaurant; and we haven’t even begun to mention its highly sought-after vintage boutiques. Since we’re in the neighborhood, we must (truly, it is a must) follow in the footsteps of Patti Smith, and have an order of “egg cream” from Gem Spa, which is not at all a place of leisure in fact, but a legendary newspaper stand and candy store that been the neighborhood’s lifeline since the 1920s.
The stomach of the neighborhood: International and Upscale
Like we said, culture is the neighborhood’s strong point, but along with it comes spectacular, global cuisine. With a Little Tokyo, Little India, Little Ukraine, and so many other little restaurants that’ll take you and your plate around the globe and back without ever leaving the Village. Above all, the neighborhood is king of late-night Asian eateries, with the reputation of having the best in the city, especially at the Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko of top-chef David Chang. And to continue this fine dining journey, it’s Italian at Porchetta, Greek at Pylo, Latin American at Secara. But for a good old fashioned New England style meal, it’s Luke’s Lobster, very famous and very delicious.
The lungs of the neighborhood: Tompkins Square Park
The only pure source of chlorophyll and fresh air in this niche neighborhood is a shared space of tranquility and leisure for inhabitants of the Village, located in its southern compartment of Alphabet City. Children of the East Village already know that Tompkins Square Park is magical grounds for meeting lifelong friends, especially its playground that is ideal for matchmaking. As for Bichon, he will meet his best buds in the park’s dog run. And at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, the entire city is harmoniously brought together in August. But if you’re not in the mood for chitchat, detach yourself from all else and stroll to 6BC Botanical Garden on 6th Street for a tranquil escape into a wild garden between spring and fall.
You’ll call the East Village home if …
- Forever young, that’s you
- You have an international palette
- To live like legends is your dream