Wander south of Union Square and you’ll find yourself in one of the most iconic neighborhoods in New York City. The East Village burst to life in the 1950s as a center for counterculture, becoming a home to celebrated artists like Andy Warhol, W.H. Auden, Joey Ramone, and Lou Reed. Follow NYTG Neighborhood Guide: East Village (map here) to plan a day in the area.
NYTG Neighborhood Guide: East Village
Take the 4/5/6, N/Q/R, or L train to Union Square and head southeast. You’ll find an NYC landmark and bibliophile’s paradise at the corner of Broadway and 12th Street – The Strand boasts 18 miles of shelves with new, used, and rare books on every subject you can imagine. Keep with the reading them and upgrade your glasses at Fabulous Fanny’s on 9th Street between First and Second Avenue, a store dedicated to the design of bifocals. Get vintage threads that the NYU kids approve of at Metropolis on Third Avenue and 10th Street, Mr. Throwback on 9th Street, or at Community 54 on Avenue B. For more out-of-the-box purchases, check out Obscura Antiques and Oddities on Avenue A; selections from their stock include vintage coffins, morticians’ plugs, and shrunken heads.
Hungry? Skip Artichoke and eat at Luzzo’s on First Avenue, where you can get the same slice of namesake pizza without waiting on a 45-minute line. A few members of David Chang’s collective of eateries can be found above 10th Street – grab appetizers at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, entrees at Momofuku Noodle Bar, and desserts at Milk Bar. For a taste of East Village history, have a meal or a drink at Sidewalk Café. Open since the mid-80s, it’s hosted countless underground punk, indie, avant garde, and jazz shows over its lifetime. Join their ranks by taking the stage on Open Mic Night every Monday.
Thirsty? Some of the city’s longest-standing bars can be found in the East Village, most notably McSorley’s Old Ale House on 7th Street. This NYC institution has been slinging just two types of beer since it opened in the 1850s: house Blonde or Dark brew. Jimmy’s No. 43 down the block is haven for hops enthusiasts, boasting a huge mix of ales that proprietor Jimmy Carbone lovingly selects. Can you keep a secret? PDT (Please Don’t Tell) is a speakeasy behind a phone booth in the Crif Dogs on St. Mark’s Place; call the bar from the booth, and the bouncer will open the door. For cocktails sans-cloak-and-dagger, try Death & Company on 6th Street; their book of 50+ drink recipes changes with each season, so you’ll have return every few months to try them all.
Stroll down St. Mark’s Place, and you can get more than a cheap tattoo or piercing. Classic Trash and Vaudeville might’ve closed, but Search and Destroy serves up awesome vintage finds from the area’s punk rock period. Hit the local Barcade for a glass of wine to enjoy with a game of Street Fighter. Mamoun’s serves some of the best (and cheapest) falafel in the city, alongside other Middle Eastern dishes. When you reach the end of the road, take a walk through Tompkins Square Park on Avenue A.
The East Village has the most community gardens of any NYC neighborhood. You can find them on nearly every block, but check out the Miracle Garden, Children’s Garden, and Parque de Tranquilidad for an eclectic mix of landscapes. Some of NYC’s more unique museums are here as well, like the Anthology Film Archives on Second Avenue, Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space on Avenue C, and the Ukrainian Museum on East 6th Street. There’s also the Museum of the American Gangster on St. Mark’s –make sure to stop at Vazac’s Horseshoe Bar after, a tavern featured in “The Godfather”. Lift your spirits after learning about murder with an improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade on 3rd Street, or get inspired by the spoken-word artists at Nuyorican Poets Café. Both of these venues have been the starting point for some of the most talented performers of our time. Despite claims of its cultural demise, the East Village is still alive with artistic spirit. You just have to know where to look.
So concludes NYTG Neighborhood Guide: East Village — check out other NYTG Guides.
Featured image courtesy of messicanbeer.