Attention JCrew shoppers – hop back on the subway and head north. Raggedly bordered by Houston and 14th Streets, 2nd Avenue and the East River, the East Village is Manhattan's host to the hippie, artsy, and punk non-scenes.
Believe it or not, this locale was once a farm owned by Dutch Governor Wouter van Twiller. The land was occupied by his family alone for over seven generations until a business-minded descendant in the 1800s began selling it parcel by parcel. It wasn't until the 1960s that this quirky area became more than the northern stretch of the Lower East Side. According to 1960s New York Times writer Earl Wilson, "Artists, poets, and promoters of coffeehouses from Greenwich Village are trying to remelt the neighborhood under the high-sounding name of 'East Village." Well, Earl, it worked.
Enter Andy Warhol, the Grateful Dead, the Beat Generation and of course, Rent. This village has seen such an influx of individuality, change, opinion and non-conformities that it has sprouted mini-neighborhoods within its come-one-come-all borders. Alphabet City is considered by the New York Times to be the "epicenter of Downtown cool." Poets and musicians find many a muse in Tompkins Square Park or the Nuyorican Poets Café. A couple doors down is The Bowery, a street once home to the homeless. Recently, though, this controversial area has sprouted sky-rise condominiums, creating palpable tension among long term residents. And just a few blocks west, St. Marks Place teems with energy from Japanese noodle cafes to the one and only CBGB store.
No matter the street, skateboarders and apothecaries unite in this village that prefers consignment over Cartier, cruisers over cabs. The eclectic restaurants offer global cuisine, and the décor is so un-cool that it is cool without trying to try at all. Chow down on vindaloo at Brick Lane Curry House or Malpeque oysters at Prune. After you've feigned indifference over your waitress's magically piecemeal outfit, satisfy your sweet tooth with chocolate soup at ChickaLicious.
If there is one rule in the East Village, and there may actually be just one, it is that you must keep going! Continue your evening of spicy aromas and bi-gender eyeliner with a concert at Bowery Bar, Mercury Lounge or the Sidewalk Cafe. If you've ingested the Village vibe, dance it out at punk palace Manitoba and let your hipster flag fly!
No matter your origin, the East Village guarantees a memorable New York night, so trade in your sneakers for some rope sandals or Vans and enjoy the experience!
- • East Village on Wikipedia: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Village,_Manhattan
- • East Village History Project: www.leshp.org
- • East Village Parks Conservancy: www.evpcnyc.org
- • East Village Idiot: eastvillageidiot.com
- • East Village Kitchen: eastvillagekitchen.com
- • East Village Neighborhoodr: eastvillage.neighborhoodr.com/
- • EV Grieve: evgrieve.com/