East Village NYC in Focus
Known for its reputation as a bastion for Beatniks in the 1950s and later, the birthplace of punk rock and hip-hop, the City’s center of counterculture, grew out of earlier roots as a neighborhood of working class Polish and Ukrainian immigrants. The 1960s ushered in a new era however, and the community redefined itself as East Village. The onetime lower rent haven attracted creative poets, musicians and coffee house patrons. Jonathan Larson’s long-running Broadway rock musical and movie Rent, portrays the neighborhood in the early 1990s; exposing the East Village neighborhood to the world as home to a collection of artists and activists, filled with drugs and crime, and ravaged by the AIDS epidemic.
East Village Now
In the new millennium, its storied past is slowly giving way to gentrification: newcomers, attracted by its interesting past and eclectic diversity acquire property and increase the demand for rental space. The result has both raised the price of housing and increased the goods and services available in the community.
In the East Village, still known for its high concentration of bars, night life and restaurants, retail is now more diverse and newer housing options make it an interesting, if less gritty, place to call home, especially for younger buyers.
Generally bounded on the west by Broadway and the Bowery and continuing east to the East River, the East Village begins at 14th Street and ends at Houston Street, but does not actually have defined boundaries. It includes the smaller communities of Alphabet City, Loisaida, St. Marks Place and the Bowery.
The main green spaces are the 57-acre East River Park and Tompkins Square, former drilling grounds for the New York National Guard and site of 1960s-era war demonstrations and the highly publicized rousting of the homeless in the late 1980s. The park underwent massive renovations in the early 1990s, and now is notable for its first-in-New York City dog run and as popular gathering place for young families, students from nearby New York University and seniors. Amenities added include playgrounds, handball and basketball courts, ping-pong tables, and permanent outdoor chess tables. More recent refurbishment added three swimming pools, picnic grounds and a bathing area for pets.
Places to Eat
Popular eateries span most nationalities comprising varietal offerings from Venezuelan (Caracas), Scandinavian (Vandaag), Austrian (Edi and the Wolf), and all ethnicities in between, including the historic Ukrainian East Village Restaurant.
The East Village is served by subways 4, 5, 6, F and L, and bus lines M8, M9, M14, M15 and M21.