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The bohemian center of New York City, Greenwich Village, also known as the West Village, is most famous for an historic counter-culture scene that has spawned art, social and literary movements that range from the Beatniks to gay rights, to jazz and experimental theater.
Now established as one of the priciest areas of Manhattan, Greenwich Village balances its storied history of rebellion with its modern status as an affluent and aspirational neighborhood. Extending from Broadway to the Hudson River and from 14th Street down to Houston Street, Greenwich Village defies the rigid grid structure of Manhattan city-planning as a tangle of cobbled, shaded streets that criss-cross and meander, betraying the area’s roots as a Dutch and African hamlet.
Settled in 1664, Greenwich Village grew separately from the rest of New York City until the eighteenth century, creating a private, small-town feel that is appreciated by those looking to escape NYC’s high-rises. Downtown charm is personified in lots of low-rise townhouses, secret courtyards and tiny gardens that bloom in riotous color every spring.
Tucked within and around those garden enclaves is evidence of the West Village’s rebellious and artistic predilections: Washington Square Park is famous as a locus of nonconformity that manifests in its street performers, artists, parades and protests, while Astor Place and Bleeker Street are home to tattoo parlors, trendy restaurants, and alternative shops and boutiques.
Experimental theaters and clubs contribute to a thriving art scene, while the gay rights movement marks Greenwich Village’s Christopher Street as its birthplace and still-active center.
A myriad of famous writers have called Greenwich Village their home, including: Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, and Henry James. Painters Norman Rockwell, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock were once residents of the West Village as well.
While Greenwich Village’s reputation as a den of artists and rebels has made this NYC neighborhood famous, rising rents and gentrification have resulted in an area that is currently more affluent than anarchic.
Families now reside in the renovated townhouses and brownstones and play in the parks, while NYU and The New School students prowl the local bar scene and shops, all eager to live among the strong cultural and historical legacies of Greenwich Village.
With a powerful history, free spirit and elegant architecture, Greenwich Village is a prized neighborhood of New York City.