West Village, New York City Travel Guide
West Village and Greenwich Village Summary
- Great shopping -- a mix of local shops and luxury boutiques, and street stalls
- Tons of fun nightclubs, bars, and lounges
- Historic (and newly renovated) Washington Square Park, a hub for generations of artists and activists
- Historic architecture -- beautiful brownstones and cobblestoned streets
- Home of the Beats, Bohemians, Abstract Expressionism, and gay pride in New York City
- Art galleries, live music venues, and art house cinemas
- Most nightclubs have long lines and raucous crowds.
- Shops sell sex and drug paraphernalia in plain view.
- Unlike most of Manhattan, Village streets aren't an easy-to-master grid.
- Heavy traffic on the weekends, especially at night
What It's Like
Greenwich Village (of which the West Village forms a part), the maze of streets between Houston and 14th streets on the west side of Manhattan, is probably the most romanticized neighborhood in New York City. Immortalized in recent popular culture by shows like "Friends" and "Sex and the City," the West Village's quaint brownstones, cobblestoned streets, and sidewalk cafes offer a, well, village-like charm not found anywhere else in Manhattan.
Its history, of course, is far richer even than the Magnolia cupcakes for which hordes of tourists descend on the West Village every day. For more than 100 years, the neighborhood has been associated with Bohemian lifestyles, political activism, and avante garde and countercultural artistic movements. Landmark moments in the histories of jazz and folk music, abstract expressionist art, Beat literature, '60s radicalism, and the gay liberation movement all took place here.
Only wildly successful artists can afford to live in the Village these days, however, as real estate values have skyrocketed, perhaps even faster than those in other hot Manhattan neighborhoods. The late 1990s transformation of the Meatpacking District, formerly the site of some 250 slaughterhouses and meat packing plants, into a boutique- and restaurant-filled hipster paradise, was perhaps the final phase of this development.
Where to Stay
Hotel options in the West Village range from swanky hipster properties like the Hotel Gansevoort in the Meatpacking District to the century-old Washington Square Hotel, a great value option near the New York University campus.