History of the East Village
Today’s East Village stretches from the East River to Third Avenue (east to west) and from East Houston Street to 14th Street (south to north). In the early 17th century, most of the area was a farm owned by Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant. However, by the early 19th century, it had become part of the growing city and was home to many immigrants from Europe.
After World War II, the tenement apartments and vibrant international community began to attract students, political activists, artists, and musicians.
The neighborhood became the epicenter of counterculture in New York City, home to artists like Allen Ginsberg and Andy Warhol, and was an incubator for avant-garde theater and the New York punk scene.
The past of the East Village shaped what the community is today – an exciting neighborhood with a lively nightlife that is the definition of downtown living.
The Vibe of the East Village
New developments in the East Village are relatively rare, but many older buildings are being remodeled to offer contemporary conveniences and polish. This trend has increased demand, but the East Village is still an affordable alternative to pricey neighboring areas.
If you’re looking for value, there are many pre-war walkups in the East Village to consider, especially as you search farther east.
Convenient access to the subway, ferries, and buses makes getting in and out of the neighborhood easy and affordable. It’s also bike-friendly, with plenty of Citi Bike stations and dedicated bike lanes.
Unique Features of the East Village
During the day, the East Village may seem like just a quiet neighborhood. However, once the sun sets and the stars come out, the area becomes packed because of the abundance of bars and restaurants to explore.
Although the neighborhood’s rough edges have been somewhat smoothed as time progressed, the birthplace of the American punk scene still has character. You can stroll down the street and find an old-school dive bar or avant-garde performance art in a low-key venue.
Things to Do in the East Village
Whether you’re looking to explore St. Mark’s Place, have a “wee dram” in a whiskey bar, or visit Tompkins Square Park, there’s always something to do in this downtown Manhattan neighborhood. Here are some of our favorite East Village activities:
- Shop at Vintage Vendors: The side streets in the East Village are dotted with curated vintage clothing and jewelry boutiques.
- Get Active: Tompkins Square Park draws families, tourists, pet lovers, and athletes to its tree-shaded benches, chess tables, and basketball courts. The park also frequently hosts free musical concerts and other events.
- Hit the Bars: Its variety of watering holes makes the East Village a top NYC nightlife destination. If you’re looking for a spot with a little more atmosphere and tasty brews, check out the historic McSorley’s Old Ale House!
Top Food Choices in the East Village
The East Village is one of New York’s most diverse dining neighborhoods. Cheap options are available for a quick bite as well as destination restaurants where you can spend the evening and a week’s paycheck. No matter which option you prefer, these restaurants should definitely be on your list:
- Veselka: One of the most popular restaurants in the East Village, this traditional Ukrainian café is a New York icon, serving affordable comfort food since 1954.
- Ippudo NY: This East Village establishment has been giving New Yorkers their ramen and pork bun fix since 2008.
- Taqueria St. Mark’s Place: The dive-bar appearance of this busy taco joint is belied by the tasty margaritas and juicy barbacoa “street style” tacos available once you step inside.
Top Three Things We Love About the East Village
1. The endless creative energy makes living in the East Village the complete New York experience.
2. Bars, clubs, and delicious food keep the avenues hopping, with plenty of parks and side streets to explore.
3. Public transportation in the East Village is affordable and easy to find.