Greenwich Village extends from Broadway to the Hudson and from 14th Street down to Houston Street. The Village is primarily a residential neighborhood that gave birth to the Beat Generation. Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Dylan Thomas all roamed the treelined streets. Even though rent hikes have sent such starving artists searching for new digs, the bohemian impact is still felt within the walls of the fabled coffeehouses and bars that border historic Washington Square Park. Past literary residents include Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, and today the area is overrun with the NYU students who study them. Downtown charm is personified in lots of low-rise townhouses, thumbnail-size gardens, secret courtyards and a serpentine layout of streets.
Washington Square Park and the rows of townhouses around it with charming alleys behind them are all frozen in time. The park, with its arch famous from much movie exposure, is the heart of the Village. This park, at the foot of Fifth Avenue, is an oasis and circus combined, where skateboarders, jugglers, stand-up comics, strollers, sweethearts, chess players, fortune tellers and daydreamers converge and commune.
Washington Mews and MacDougal Alley are quiet cobblestone lanes right off the square. Legendary streets such as Astor Place and Bleecker Street (famous Beat and hippie hangouts) are lined with super-hip boutiques, delis displaying esoteric beers from around the globe and cafes and restaurants of all stripes.
It makes sense that New York University is in the Village, an area that has been home to some of the world’s most famous writers and artists including Henry James, Edith Wharton, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Eugene O’Neill, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning and Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
At night, Greenwich Village comes alive with sounds from late-night coffeehouses, cafés, experimental theaters and music clubs. At fabled coffeehouses like Caffe Reggio and Café Figaro, you can order a double espresso or cappuccino and pretend for a few minutes that you’re Allen Ginsberg or William Burroughs.
The Village is home to a large community of gays and lesbians. Across Seventh Avenue is Christopher Street, site of a historic clash (in front of the Stonewall Bar) in 1969 between city police and gay men, marking the beginning of the gay rights movement.
Enjoy a weekend in Greenwich Village with Next Stop New York (800-434-7554).
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