History & Culture
Like central Greenwich Village to its east, this part of Manhattan followed a similar path from being farmland to a 19th-century residential neighborhood away from the bustle of downtown and eventually an area with a decidedly bohemian edge. Its 19th-century past is visible in stately rowhouses, most in brick, and some streets that remain cobblestone to this day. Even occasional street names recall this period: When cholera or other outbreaks hit the Financial District, banks would temporarily move their operations to Bank Street. For much of the 20th century, the West Village would be associated with the writers and artists who called it home — Willa Cather, e.e. cummings, and Jack Kerouac among them. This legacy lives on in institutions like the Cherry Lane Theatre (on Commerce Street), the Lucille Lortel Theatre, and, more recently, the new location of the Whitney Museum, which opened in 2015.