Living in New York City's East Village means having your social life at your doorstep. Many of Manhattan's best happy hours, cheap restaurants, and fun bars are right here. People move here to go out, not to hunker down—which is hard to do given the constant hum of a party. Despite its gentrification, the area is still a little grungy and eclectic, and indisputably cool. Your eyes are often drawn to something new: a little wine bar, basement consignment shop, hidden garden or a statue in a second-floor window. The street life has grown increasingly upscale, but it's still as vibrant as ever.
The East Village is bordered by 14th Street, Houston Street to the south, Avenue D to the east and the Bowery/Third Avenue to the west. Subways run along the edge of the neighborhood but not through it, and that can mean a good 15-minute walk to a station. The #6 train stops at Astor Place (East 8th Street and Fourth Avenue), the F train at Houston Street and Second Avenue, and the L train at 14th Street and First or Third Avenues. Just a little farther away, Union Square also has the 4, 5, R, Q and N trains. Several buses, including the M15 running up First Avenue and down Second Avenue, and the M8, which goes crosstown on 8th and 9th Streets, can make life easier when they arrive on time. Given the limited transportation options, CitiBike, the new bike-sharing system, is especially valuable here.
Tompkins Square Park is the neighborhood's heart. Long downtrodden, it has spiffed up along with its surroundings, but still sees its share of drifters. There's always some activity, whether a drum circle, yoga class, game of chess or the Sunday greenmarket. It also has a sizable and popular dog run, with separate areas for large and small dogs, plus benches for owners. Speaking of pups, scores come out for the area's annual Halloween Dog Parade, a canine costume contest that is the city's biggest. The far East Village also has several community gardens that were built on empty lots in the 1970s and 1980s. Each is only open about 10 hours a week, but they're nicely landscaped and generally quiet, providing perfect spots to read and relax. There's even a weeping willow at East 9th Street and Avenue C.
While Tompkins Square Park has a nice little playground, the East Village is not exactly family-friendly. On weekends, when the college kids pack in, the streets can be noisy at all hours. Narrow and crowded sidewalks make it challenging to push a stroller. If you're looking to raise a family downtown, the more grown-up West Village or Tribeca would be a better bet.
East Village residents are predominantly single and childless. Only 28% are married and 10% have kids. Residents in their 20s make up 28% of the population, while folks in their 30s account for 24%. The median household income is $46,159.
Over half of residents have a commute of 30 minutes or less. It takes 30-45 minutes for 25% of them to get to work. Much of this is dependent on how long it takes to walk to a subway.
Just about every street in the East Village has something going on, with distinct pockets. Around Third Avenue and St. Mark's Place (8th Street) there's a loud fraternity vibe, with a number of takeout pizza joints and sports bars. Farther east, closer to Alphabet City (Avenues A, B, and C), things have a more mature character. You can take a tour of world cuisine in a few blocks: tacos, arepas, bangers and mash, ramen noodles or falafel. East 6th Street is lined with Indian restaurants. You'll find chic boutiques and bars predominately on the cross streets, such as East 7th and 9th Streets. There are also a lot of places to go for great happy hour specials, many lasting until 8pm.
Most of the cultural options hearken back to the East Village's bohemian days, with performers in small, no-frills rooms that seem to miss the fog of cigarette smoke. The 40-year-old Nuyerican Poets Cafe is a classic, with poetry slams, spoken word or music every night. Be prepared for a line out the door. Anthology Film Archives screens independent and avant-garde cinema. La MaMa hosts experimental theater, while the New York Theater Workshop has sent shows like Rent to Broadway. There's jazz at The Stone, international dance bands at Nublu, rock at Webster Hall and Irish jam sessions at Dempsey's. It is impossible to be bored here.
East Village History
Considered part of the Lower East Side until the 1960s, the East Village was long an immigrant community. Its story has Dutch roots, going back to when governor Peter Stuyvesant's farm sat in the vicinity of today's East 10th Street and Second Avenue. The area steadily developed as the city grew and farms were divided into plots, with immigrants moving in to newly constructed tenements in the early part of the 19th century. First came the Irish and Germans, followed in the 1880s by an influx of Italians, Russians, Romanians, Hungarians and Greeks. Yiddish theater flourished along Second Avenue, catering to the large Jewish population. Colorful as it all was, conditions in the tenements were abysmal, and the area became the focus of social reformers like Jacob A. Riis. It also became a hotbed of activism and radical politics, with anarchism and socialism debated in the streets. In the mid-20th century, Puerto Ricans moved in (referring to the area as Loisida), joined by African-Americans. The polyglot community, social tolerance, and cheap rents attracted the artists and writers of the Beat Generation. They set up poetry houses, coffee shops, and jazz clubs, and imbued it with the creative, edgy spirit it's known for today. The neighborhood declined in the 1970s and 1980s, but it kept luring artists, who, as always, attracted gentrifiers. Though both the crime and bohemianism have largely disappeared, the East Village is still an exciting and interesting place to live.
77 St. Marks Place — Poet W.H. Auden lived in an apartment here. Before him, Marxist Leon Trotsky worked here.
150 East 2nd Street — Poet Allen Ginsburg lived here.
115 East 9th Street — Joey Ramone lived here.
234 East 4th Street — Madonna's first New York apartment.
120 East 10th Street — Photographer Diane Arbus lived here.
131 East 10th Street — St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery, the oldest continuously operated church in the city, is where Peter Stuyvesant is buried.
15 East 7th Street — McSorley's Old Ale House, immortalized by the writer Joseph Mitchell, opened in 1854 and is the city's oldest continuously-operated saloon.
151 Avenue B — Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker's old apartment.