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New York, NY
RESERVE IN ADVANCENo
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATIONNone
HIGHLIGHTSSt. Mark's Place; funky shops; Tompkins Square Park; Nuyorican Poets Cafe
SUBWAYAstor Pl. (6); 2nd Ave. (F); 3rd Ave. (L); Delancey St. (F, J, M, Z); Grand St. (B, D); Bowery (J, Z)
As Greenwich Village’s overflowing population of beatniks and hippies surged eastward across the city in the '50s and '60s in search of grittier pastures, they transformed what was once an immigrant-packed working class neighborhood into the "East Village": a hotbed of counterculture with leaders like Dylan, the Velvet Underground, and Patti Smith that was much more extreme than the gently bohemian Greenwich Village. These days, gentrification has swept away many of the dive bars and artists’ flophouses, replacing them with hip hotels, designer boutiques, and trendy restaurants. That said, the narrow, twisting streets still hold enough tattoo parlors, used vinyl shops, punk clubs, and cultural landmarks–like the Nuyorican Poets Café (a forum for poets and visual artists since 1973) and “Mosaic Man” Jim Powers’ embellished lampposts around St. Mark’s–to keep things interesting.
GO HERE WITH
Boho types; friends
WHY WE LIKE IT
Sure, gentrification has really changed the scene here, but if you take a wander through the East Village, you can still connect with the funky vibes of the ’60s and ’70s. We like to start at St. Mark’s Place (E. 8th Street between Third Avenue and Avenue A), which was once ground zero for the counterculture set. An afternoon spent in Tompkins Square Park will yield not only dog walkers and playing children, but also plenty of hippie and punk types frolicking on grounds not-quite-yet gentrified. Be it an offbeat alternative boutique, an edgy salon, or a hole-in-the-wall noodle bar, there’s always something that grabs our attention around here.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
It’s a shame that many of the neighborhood’s most important landmarks, like groundbreaking punk club CBGB, have closed.
GOOD TO KNOW
The East Village extends north from Houston Street to 14th Street, and east from Fourth Avenue to Avenue C. While the western parts of East Village have become more gentrified, Alphabet City (east of First Avenue, encompassing Avenues A to D) retains that gritty, raw feel that draws artists and students. If you need help getting your bearings, check out the East Village Visitors Center (www.eastvillagevisitorscenter.com; open Tue.-Sat.: 1:00pm-6:00pm), which offers maps, friendly advice on where to go, and guided tours of the neighborhood.
Williamsburg (New York); Shoreditch (London)
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