The East Village is a neighborhood that encapsulates everything that people first think of when they hear the words “New York City.” That means unique-looking buildings of varying vintages; a rich cultural history that spans from gangsters to Andy Warhol, from Beatniks to Beastie Boys; and something cool happening on every corner. The East Village spans the area from Houston Street to 14th Street, and from the East River to Fourth Avenue. Once the home of luminaries such as Andy Warhol, Madonna, The Ramones, and Allen Ginsberg, the East Village has historically been a safe haven for artists, musicians and a feisty counterculture so well-known the Broadway musical Rent sets its stage in its streets. As that Broadway love letter suggests, the East Village has lost some of its ragged edges in recent years, but the East Village remains one of Manhattan’s most distinctive — and just-plain-cool — neighborhoods.
A study in stylish contrasts, the East Village contains the highest concentration of bars in New York City and the Strand’s eight miles of books. New York University and Cooper Union students roam The East Village’s tattoo parlors on St. Marks Place, the bars and clubs of Alphabet City, the innumerable hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants (and small-scale fine dining establishments) east of Second Avenue, and East 9th Street’s eccentric and trendy boutiques. The birthplace of punk, postmodern art, and the Nuyorican literary movement, the East Village cultural scene is still going strong. With a growing network of upscale apartments and condominiums sprouting between the art-tagged buildings, the East Village’s new construction condominiums and luxury rentals make for a fascinating juxtaposition with the classical architecture of the federalist Merchant’s House Museum, the neo-romanesque Puck Building, and the gothic Grace Church.
Several subway lines and bus routes criss-cross the neighborhood, and the renovated Tompkins Square Park provides a respite from the relentless East Village-ness of it all. Hip students, young professionals, and long-time residents add to the sense of diversity, and East Villagers consider themselves members of a close-knit community — welcoming, to be sure, but also guardians of a neighborhood whose richness is unique and beloved, and which makes it one of the most desirable residential neighborhoods in Manhattan.