East Village, New York City Travel Guide
East Village Summary
- Union Square and Tompkins Square Park are historic parks and popular hangouts.
- Center of alternative culture: yoga studios, vegan restaurants, tattoo parlors, and experimental theater
- Great dining -- some of the hottest and most diverse cuisine in Manhattan
- Fun bars, clubs and lounges
- Great people-watching; artists and students provide a young, fun, and dynamic scene
- Authenticity (locals really hang out there)
- Somewhat grimier than most Manhattan neighborhoods
- Drunk college kids cavorting on the street in the middle of the night
- Heavy foot traffic on the weekends, especially at night
- Limited subway access: Only the local 6 train stops here, and only on the neighborhood's western edge
- The few hotel options are expensive and so hip it hurts (see the Bowery Hotel).
What It's Like
Bounded by 14th Street to the north and Houston Street to the south, on the eastside of Manhattan, the East Village was for decades a sketchy neighborhood that tended to attract struggling artists, writers, and musicians -- a long-term artistic influx that fed the 1960s hippie culture and fostered the birth of punk rock in the 1970s. More recently, like much of Manhattan, the area has undergone a fair amount of gentrification, but still retains many elements of its gritty character and counterculture spirit, partly due to the constant influx of students from nearby New York University (in the West Village). Tompkins Square Park, at the neighborhood's center, is a gathering place for green-market shoppers, street performers, and people just hanging out. Surrounding the park are restaurants, vintage shops, low-key bars, and "alternative" businesses offering everything from vegan cuisine to drug paraphernalia.
Where to Stay
Hotel options are few in the East Village, though in recent years a few prominent boutique hotels have opened up on Bowery (a road that was, until recently, virtually synonymous with Skid Row). The Bowery Hotel, a celebrity favorite, was joined in 2008 by the sleek Cooper Square Hotel (two blocks north).