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Living in East Village

Bordered by Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side, the East Village is the definition of eclectic. Stylish bars and restaurants appeal the neighborhood to flashy young professionals, and NYU’s proximity means it hosts a revolving door of students. Yet areas such as Alphabet City are also home to long-term residents of all ages who mix and mingle in close-knit communities.

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During the day, the neighborhood feels calm and residential; café tables spill out onto the sidewalks and friends gather by the Tompkins Square Park dog run to gossip. Unmarked doorways contain quirky boutiques and art galleries with an alternative sensibility. After hours, however, it’s another story. The East Village becomes packed with revelers in search of late-night adventure, Victorian-themed cocktails and punk rock dance parties.

East Village real estate

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The majority of East Village real estate consists of prewar walk-ups, particularly the further east you go. Doorman buildings and high-rises are thin on the ground, but apartments that look unassuming from the outside often have hidden details within, like spacious roof decks or lush courtyard gardens.

The area has gone through an intense period of regeneration over the past two decades, including the construction of many new high-end condos along Avenue B. At the same time, there’s a push to maintain the low-population density of the neighborhood. While the avenues can be busy, those seeking quieter East Village apartments should have no trouble finding them in the neighborhood’s tranquil side streets.

East Village history

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Once part of Peter Stuyvesant’s New Amsterdam farm, the East Village started to urbanize in the 1830s when John Jacob Astor transformed Astor Place into a fashionable address. As immigrants from Eastern Europe and Germany flooded into the area, it became known as more of a working class neighborhood.

The East Village's cheap rent and free spirit drew many movers and shakers of the counterculture. Charlie Parker, Andy Warhol and Madonna are just a few of the luminaries who have honed their art here, and the area was particularly renowned for being a Beat poet haunt in the 1950s and punk rockers mecca in the 1970s. Though this fashionable neighborhood has gentrified in recent years, it still stays true to its artistic roots.

East Village restaurants

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There’s a thriving Asian community in the East Village, reflected in the area’s many Japanese ramen bars, home-style Filipino restaurants and Chinese dim sum eateries. David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants are the most famous of these. His empire consists of dessert spot Momofuku Milk Bar, the Noodle Bar, the Ssam Bar, and of course the Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko.

For quick bites, restaurants along St. Marks Place sell wallet-friendly hot dogs, thin crust pizza and the ever-popular Mamoun’s Falafel. The neighborhood’s Ukrainian heritage is on display at Veselka, which dishes up soothing bowls of borscht and toothsome pierogi around the clock. John’s of 12th Street has been serving old-fashioned Italian comfort food for over a century, and Angelica Kitchen was dishing up wholesome vegetarian food before clean-eating became a buzzword. For high-end vegan cuisine, Avant Garden eschews mock meats in favor of creative concoctions that bring out the best in seasonal vegetables.

East Village nightlife

The East Village’s punk pedigree is undeniable: it’s where the Ramones got their start and CBGB once ruled supreme. Yet the neighborhood’s punk rock attitude extends beyond its music scene. La Mama and The Public Theater stage thought-provoking, avant-garde shows for theater buffs, while the Bowery Poetry club and Nuyorican Poets Café host poetry slams and acts that straddle an intersection of performing arts genres.

Whether you’re in the mood for a dive bar or a craft cocktail, the nightlife scene has something for you. For an authentic historical vibe, follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and enjoy a pint at McSorley’s Old Ale House. This East Village institution has been serving residents a selection of ales from its well-worn wooden bar for 150 years. If you prefer East Village bars with a cool speakeasy-inspired slant, Death & Co. and Bedlam are happy to oblige. And there’s no shortage of 24-hour diners dishing up breakfast at 4am to late-night partygoers.

East Village shopping

The East Village has one of the highest concentrations of vintage shops in the city, particularly in the row of endless boutiques along 9th Street. Here you’ll also find bookshops, quirky home décor stores and various oddities. Fill your wardrobe with rock-and-roll animal prints and leather at Trash and Vaudeville, or for an upscale vintage inventory, head to Screaming Mimi’s, formerly staffed by Cyndi Lauper.

John Derian stocks delicately printed linens, papier-mâch home goods and decoupage platters in an evocatively old-world styled shop. Obscura Antiques and Oddities on Avenue A is one large cabinet of curiosities, preserved butterflies and all. And St. Mark’s Place is still the go-to shopping destination for body jewelry and kitschy accessories.   

East Village attractions

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For a taste of local culture, you can view richly embroidered textiles, vibrant Easter eggs and thousands of other Ukrainian artefacts at the Ukrainian Museum. It holds permanent and temporary exhibitions, with collections focusing on both folk and fine art. Another place to learn more about the East Village’s heritage is at the Merchant’s House Museum. Constructed in 1832, it was home to the same family, the Tredwells, for nearly a century and is part of the Historic House Trust of New York City. Plush furniture, gas chandelier lighting and hand-stitched dresses provide an intriguing glimpse into a typical family’s life in 19th-century New York.

East Village parks

Tompkins Square Park, perched at the edge of Alphabet City, is the neighborhood’s largest green space. With chess tables, a dog run and abundant musical events, it’s essentially an open-air living room for residents. The East River Park also skirts the East Village, spanning 2.4 miles of waterside greenery. There’s plenty to do in the park apart from people-watching: it features a soccer field, amphitheater, bike paths, gardens and children’s water play areas.

Small neighborhood feel

"The East Village has soul! A unique mix of old neighborhood small shops and restaurants that have been around for decades coupled with the best of the new cutting edge. Walk down a side street and feel like you are in Paris. Hard to find!"
Jill Meilus
Jill                 Meilus

What's In The Area: East Village

Driving Walking

Local tips and information for going out in the East Village from The Corcoran Group. Explore dining, shopping and nightlife.

All East Village tips




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