West Village (includes Greenwich)
There’s no mistaking the West Village for anywhere else in Manhattan. Once a pastoral hamlet whose streets were planned in the 18th Century, the street grid bears little resemblance to Manhattan’s orderly layout. The narrow, intimate streets in the West Village seem to haphazardly cross each other in no particular pattern, so even New Yorkers sometimes get lost there, although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; getting lost in the West Village can be an enjoyable experience. Consisting mostly of brick row houses, low-rise apartments, and hidden courtyards, the tree-lined streets in the West Village still invoke its rural history. There’s far more to it than just an unusual design and great architecture though. The West Village has been a center of creativity, free thought, and counterculture for almost the entirety of its existence, and that cultural history is apparent at every turn. This bohemian atmosphere goes back a long way - the West Village was actually labeled ‘Little Bohemia’ in 1916 - and the nightclubs, music venues, experimental theaters, and coffeehouses where many artistic greats rubbed elbows still give the neighborhood its distinct character.
The identity of the West Village is inseparable from the long list of creative people who lived there (or still live there). Writers such as Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, e.e. Cummings, and Jack Kerouac called it home. Bob Dylan began his career there. Every notable jazz musician in history has played the Village Vanguard. Edward Hopper painted there. The list goes on but even a small sample illustrates that the West Village is more than just an artists haven; it has long been the artistic capital of New York City, if not America. This spirit of non-conformity and innovation still abounds, although the desirability of the West Village has made it rather expensive to live in these days. Nonetheless, it is brimming with culture: poetry readings, Off-Off-Broadway shows, live jazz, art showings, and alternative films abound there. The West Village is a great place to dine, shop, drink, or just hang out. The myriad shops, restaurants, and historic bars there all have the same hip character as the neighborhood, and the variety of options is astounding. In short, the West Village is overflowing with things to do. Combine that with the neighborhood’s classic architecture and laid-back charm, and on the whole there’s no place else like it in Manhattan.