As a tenement neighborhood once home to Irish, Jewish, Italian, and Ukrainian immigrants, buildings in the East Village tend to be smaller than those farther north in Manhattan. Even compared to structures in older Greenwich and West Village, East Village homes feel compact, though many recent renovations ensure that all modern conveniences are available. If you’re looking to get the most square-footage for your dollar, this probably isn’t the place. But if you want a co-op or perhaps a condo that’s close to the action, this can be a great neighborhood. Prices naturally reflect the East Village’s status as a much-desired place to live, but there are deals to be found on lower floors, in walk-up buildings, and in those properties farther east.
The East Village is served by two subway lines. The 6 train stops at Astor Place and Bleecker and Broadway on the western edge of the neighborhood, and the L train stops along 14th Street at Third Avenue and First Avenue on its way in and out of Manhattan. Of course, numerous bus lines supplement this service, and given the neighborhood’s 24/7 popularity, finding a car for hire is rarely a problem.
The East Village is served by several excellent public schools, including the East Village Community School, an elementary that earns a GreatSchools rating of 9 out of 10, and the East Side Community School, for students in grades 6-12, which earns a rating of 8 out of 10. The high school campus of the private Grace Church School is located right in Cooper Square, on the East Side of the neighborhood, and St. Brigid School and St. George Academy together provide students with a fine Catholic education from the nursery years to high school.
At the center of the East Village lies Tompkins Square Park, a 10.5-acre square of greenery with benches, walking paths, lawn space, and playing courts. Popular all year round with strollers, readers, and athletic types, Tompkins Square Park is a great place to catch a spell of quiet and a breath of fresh air in the middle of the compact, bustling East Village. The park also hosts utterly unique events like the Howl Festival celebrating Beat poet Alan Ginsburg, and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival every August. Several other parks, like the Dry Dock Playground and East River Park, give East Village residents other great options for getting outdoors.
Restaurants and Bars
An excellent neighborhood for eating and drinking out, East Village offerings run the gamut from high to low end, classic New York to global exotics. The Brindle Room, a cozy gastropub on E. 10th Street, serves a perennial contender for the best burger in Manhattan (and even in New York State). Bowls of steaming ramen at Momofuku noodle bar keep patrons coming in way past midnight. The offerings of oysters, seafood, and craft beer at Upstate may be limited in selection, but are uniformly excellent in quality. Dive bars abound in this neighborhood long home to struggling artists and radicals, but they aren’t the only option: tiny Amor y Amargo (it translates to “love and bitters”) on E. 6th Street serves up some of the most exquisite cocktails in New York.
Like its residents, shopping in the East Village has leaned toward the artistic and funky, but is rapidly rising up the economic ladder. This is a great neighborhood for denim, records, books, hipster crafts, vintage clothes, and even some high-end boutiques. Obscura Antiques and Oddities is the place to find gifts for your off-kilter friends, and after perusing the eyewear at Fabulous Fanny’s, you might never be able to shop for it anywhere else. Unique streetwear and celebrity-approved vintage are available at Community 54 and Metropolis, respectively. And if all that shopping has you hungry for a home-cooked meal, the East Village has you covered with tons of grocery stores. There’s East Village Farm and Grocery, Union Market, a sizable Whole Foods location, and plenty more places to pick up milk, bread, and organic tofu.
Landmarks and Culture
A general rule of thumb: If it’s happening, it’s happening in the East Village. That might mean independent film at Village East Cinema (or the ‘hood’s two other theaters), live music acts large (Webster Hall) and small (Mercury Lounge, the Stone), literary readings at KGB, or outdoor public art events at Tompkins Square Park. The neighborhood is also home to a staggeringly fascinating history and all the landmarks and surprises that come with it. See, for example, the New York Marble Cemetery — the oldest public, non-sectarian burial ground in all of the city, enclosed by stone walls in a stand of normal-looking apartment buildings.