Views From the East Village: Where to Live and What to See

Every neighborhood in New York has its own atmosphere, and every street has a distinctive flavor. This is particularly true in the East Village, where traveling from 3rd Street to 4th Street means journeying from a haven for delicious food, vintage clothing, and raucous nightlife to a quiet residential neighborhood.

The East Village is quickly becoming the city’s leader when it comes to culture and the arts, which means hundreds of New Yorkers and outsiders are looking to move in. However, the neighborhood’s diversity can be overwhelming at first, which is why this handy guide is essential to anyone setting their sights on East Village property.

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East Village History

In its earliest history, the East Village was Dutch farmland owned by Peter Stuyvesant, Manhattan’s most renowned early developer. Eventually, his descendants began selling parcels of land, from with townhouses and, later, multi-unit developments sprung. Immigrating Germans took to the eastern regions of Manhattan, creating Kleindeutschland (Little Germany) ― the first foreign language neighborhood in the nation. Blocks upon blocks of boarding houses were erected to accommodate the quickly swelling population of the neighborhood, which was exceeding 50,000 in the 1860s.

When Germans started dispersing around the turn of the century, other immigrants, especially Poles and Ukrainians, replaced them. During this time, the East Village was comfortably lumped in with the Lower East Side; both regions were relative slums, where poor, industrial workers strove to eke out livings.

Then, barely have a century later, the East Village was decidedly divided as a separate neighborhood by invading artists, who sought to separate themselves from the working class. Beatniks ― Allen Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs, Andy Warhol, and their ilk ― were drawn to the area due to its low rents and relative isolation, since the disordered public transit at the time separated the East Village from the rest of the city. The neighborhood quickly became a cultural paradise, and tourists flocked to the area to see their favorite artists at work in music clubs, galleries, and coffee shops.

For most of the latter half of the 20th century, the East Village remained a haven for counter-culture, which tended to keep it looking squalid. Thankfully, the housing boom in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s inspired real estate investors to develop the neighborhood, maintaining its vital and unique history while dramatically increasing its property values.

Best Residences

The East Village continues to change ― as is generally the case in any New York neighborhood ― which makes it difficult to point to particular buildings as great places to live. There are some developers, Raphael Toledano for example, who tend to invest in high-quality buildings and provide first-rate service, but all that could change in a matter of months. Still, unlikely to change is the importance of the street you choose to live on:

best residences

  • East 7th Street. To the untrained eye, 7th may seem like just any other street, but in truth it boasts some of the neighborhood’s most significant sights, including world-famous bar McSorley’s, and Tompkins Square Park, which was planned by Stuyvesant’s family. Plus, a handful of excellent restaurants, vintage shops, and poetry spots fill in the gaps.
  • East 9th Street. Even before the ‘60s, young, creative people seemed to flock to 9th. Celebrities like Mark Twain, Buddy Holly, and Isadora Duncan preferred to explore this region of the Village in their hey-days. Today, visitors and residents come here for smart and funky shops and eateries that tend to have a foot in the past, like the Ukrainian diner Veselka.
  • East 4th Street. Unassuming and quietly residential until Avenue A, 4th is actually one of the most diverse streets in the neighborhood ― especially when it comes to food. Visitors and residents will find a smattering of Italian, Mediterranean, Thai, Mexican, and other ethnic joints up and down both sides.
  • East 5th Street. Meanwhile, just a block away, 5th is a haven for those who enjoy subdued nightlife. Residents here are closely knit, and house or block parties are relatively common occurrences. Additionally, a handful of laid-back bars, like Ace Bar, are perfect for a drink or some conversation with friends.
  • East 3rd Street. Close to the ever-glitzy Bowery neighborhood, 3rd boasts some of the East Village’s most beautiful buildings, including the stunning Bowery Hotel and nearby apartments. Still, 3rd keeps it real with some comfortable eateries like Two Boots Pizza, where you can catch a movie while enjoying a fresh slice.

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