Must-See East Village
by nycgo.com staff, 03/03/2015
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There's something about the East Village that makes people recall the good old days. Known for cheap rents, it drew all kinds of so-called misfits: Beats and punks, artists and skaters. You could see the Ramones play for the price of a pizza slice, or hear Patti Smith read poetry in a church. But despite those common refrains, visitors continue to flock to the neighborhood—for what it is, not for what it once was.
Take it from Jimmy Webb, manager of long-standing vintage shop Trash and Vaudeville, which recently moved from St. Marks to new digs on East 7th: the spirit of the East Village is still alive, and it's still rock 'n' roll. "Rock 'n' roll is love," says Webb, who arrived in 1975 and never left. "It's not discriminatory." Back in the day his store drew the likes of Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop; these days you might see Skrillex or Lil' Wayne shopping its aisles.
Artist Dave Ortiz also sees the East Village as alive and well. He came from Brooklyn in 1988 to hang with skaters in Tompkins Square Park, and loved seeing a diverse group of black, white and Latino people all living together. "It's still a neighborhood where there's a freedom to be who you are," he says.
What's more, there are still independent book and record stores. St. Marks Place remains home for teenage punks who don't fit in anywhere else. And you can still find vibrant Spanish and Ukrainian communities, a classic New York City egg cream at Gem Spa and a multitude of artists looking for inspiration, the way upstarts like Jean-Michel Basquiat once did.
Where it is: The East Village extends north from East Houston Street to East 14th Street, and east from Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue to the East River. (Alphabet City is the neighborhood's eastern edge and includes Avenues A, B, C and D.)
How to get there: Take the F train to 2nd Avenue, the 6 train to Astor Place, the N or R to 8th Street–New York University or the L train to First or Third Avenues. —Christina Parella