Thus what was once a seemingly forgotten neighborhood, whose primary purpose was industrial in nature—housing defunct railroads and old warehouses that have been developed into the High Line and art spaces, respectively—has become one of the most sought-after places to live in New York City. Buzzing with culture but maintaining a residential feel, it packs a punch in terms of things to do, see and eat. The following slides cover the best of the attractions, including Chelsea Market, Chelsea Piers and the aforementioned High Line, along with where to go for art, food and nightlife.
Where It Is: Chelsea is roughly located west of Broadway over to the Hudson River, from West 14th to West 30th Streets.
How to Get There: Take the A, C, E or L to 14th Street-Eighth Avenue; the C, E to 23rd Street; the 1 to 18th, 23rd or 28th Street; or the F or M to 14th or 23rd Street.
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.
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.
Over the years, notable residents of Gramercy’s town houses have included President Theodore Roosevelt, actor James Cagney, and scribes O. Henry, Oscar Wilde and Eugene O’Neill. In many ways, the neighborhood hasn’t changed much since they left. Its center, Gramercy Park, is a remnant of a bygone era—it’s a private oasis, a giant backyard for area residents’ exclusive enjoyment. (There’s only one other private park in New York City—at Sunnyside Gardens in Queens). The green space looks much the same as it did in the 19th century, and usually visitors must content themselves to peek through the fence at its lush greenery and impeccable landscaping. There are exceptions, however: Gramercy Park opens to the public every year for Christmas Eve caroling, and those willing to shell out for a night at the Gramercy Park Hotel receive the same access as those who pay an annual fee for a key to the park. The surrounding streets, meanwhile, have remained more or less continuously fashionable for 180 years—they’re packed with notable architecture; diverse dining options like Casa Mono, Pure Food and Wine, and Friend of a Farmer; and nightlife—especially live music at Irving Plaza, The Gramercy Theatre and Jazz Standard
In New York, change is the only constant, and the West Village embodies that fact. Its web of cobblestone streets, lined in Federal and Greek Revival townhouses, Italianate brownstones and deco-era apartment buildings, has largely withstood history. Yet those structures have contained waves of literati, progressive visual artists, equal-rights activists and, today, a fairly upscale population of gay couples, families and longtime denizens. Although some argue that this genius loci has strayed too far from the West Village’s boundary-pushing past, previous generations are still apparent. A tour of beloved destinations involves experiences of culture and politics as well as commerce—perfectly reflecting everything New York City has to offer.