In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the East Village was a seedier, edgier place. Blocks with abandoned buildings, dark streets, lingering vagrants, and drug addicts were the norm. In the present day, remnants of those gritty times are few and far between –– instead, this eclectic, bohemian nabe has become one of the most sought-after sections of the city in which to live and play. The East Village stretches from 14th Street to Houston Street, and Third Avenue to East River; the Gramercy area and Stuyvesant Town lie north, the Lower East Side is to the south, and Greenwich Village sits directly west.
Famous Villagers such as Madonna, The Beastie Boys, and beat generation writer Allen Ginsberg made the neighborhood the hip, artsy enclave that it still is today. However, the East Village was once inexpensive and somewhat affordable by Manhattan standards, so the nabe attracted many artists and writers. But now, this section of downtown garners high prices, particularly for new developments. Condo construction remains abundant as the area continues to gentrify.
What’s the neighborhood like?
You’ll find many restored tenement buildings, new condo buildings, townhouses, and still, some un-renovated walk-up apartments sprinkled throughout. Restaurants, bars, and shops line the avenues and are intermittently scattered on side streets, so you won’t have any reason to leave your neighborhood unless you want to.
What is there to do?
You’ll never get bored in the East Village. Tompkins Square Park’s renovation in the early ‘90s brought the 10.5-acre park back to life. The green space is a gorgeous retreat for denizens and dogs alike. The dog park –– the first in New York City –– is a Manhattan favorite, particularly during the Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, which hosts the largest dog Halloween party in the country.
Also, the East Village is known for its array of community gardens. If you wander through the enclave, you’ll undoubtedly stumble upon several, if not many on your travels.
East River Park, which extends from Montgomery Street downtown to East 12th Street, is fantastic for running and biking. Or, relax by the water and take in the breathtaking views of the East River.
The famed Kraine Theatre, original home to the hit musical Rent, which was also set in the area, is on East 8th Street between Avenues A and B. Since the days of Rent, Off-Broadway shows like Showgirls! The Musical, and Bayside! The Unmusical! have had successful runs at the Kraine.
Other not-to-miss attractions include the Bowery Ballroom, Nuyorican Poets Café, and the St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery.
St. Mark’s Place is a shopping destination and runs through the center of the neighborhood. You’ll also find a host of restaurants on this street.
Where to dine?
You won’t go hungry in the East Village. On St. Mark’s Place alone, you’ll find go-to dining spots like Mamoun, Xi’an Famous Foods, and Jules Bistro, which features delicious French food and live jazz. A few other popular eateries worth trying are Lavagna on East 5th Street, Ngam on Third Avenue, and Momofuku Noodle Bar on First Avenue.
If you’re looking more for nightlife, McSorley’s, one of the oldest taverns in the city, is a staple for beer and good times. Other nightlife hubs include Rue B for cocktails, eats, and music on Avenue B, and Death + Company on East 6th.
How much does it cost?
Expect a small one-bedroom non-doorman rental sans elevator to start at about $2,500 per month. If you want to buy, you’ll pay anywhere from about $600K for a small one-bedroom with a doorman (or a larger walk-up apartment), to $1 million and higher (depending on square footage) for a one-bedroom luxury condo with amenities like concierge, a washer/dryer and a terrace or roof deck. Larger condos start at about $1.5 million and go up from there.
What’s coming up?
Construction on new condominiums at the site of the former BP station and auto shop on Second Avenue should start soon. The project plans for 50,000 square feet of residential space and 7,000 square feet of retail.
A 12-story, mixed-use project at the eastern edge of the neighborhood on Avenue D between 6th and 7th is currently in development. Other new condo buildings on the radar include 500 East 14th Street, 227 East 7th, and 524 East 14th Street.