Greenwich Village Description
Greenwich Village has retained much of its charm and historic character over the years, thanks in part to its activist residents, zoning regulations, and an eccentric deceased landowner named Bill Gottlieb. South of 14th Street and west of Sixth Avenue (or Broadway, depending on whom you ask), Manhattan’s grid system of streets ceases to function, and crooked, narrow lanes begin. How else to account for the intersection of West Fourth and West 12th Streets? The northwestern corner, now referred to as the Meatpacking District
, with its industrial buildings and quaint cobblestone streets, had until recently doggedly resisted development, and some streetscapes appear much as they were fifty years ago. Now packed with restaurants, bars and the towering Gansevoort Hotel, it too has quickly entered the 21st century. Although long-time residents bemoan the weekend bridge-and-tunnel crowd, endless throngs of visitors, and double-decker tour buses, both the residential buildings and entertainment locales underscore its true New York flavor. Jazz locales and trendy cafés compete with quieter establishments and small off-off-Broadway theaters.
Where once was a marshy rural hamlet, entirely separate from New York City proper, Greenwich Village grew to become one of the most interesting sections of lower Manhattan in the 20th century. In the postwar 1950s' the new Beat Generation's loose collection of writers, poets, artists, and students artists and hipsters moved here, creating the east coast precursor to the Haight-Ashbury hippie scene of the next decade. In the 1960's the Village was the center of the folk music scene and home to safe houses used by the radical anti-war movement. And it was here also that the gay-rights movement intensified after the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The Stonewall/Christopher Street area today is testimony to the neighborhood’s unique and liberal character.
Historic Washington Square Park
is the center and heart of the neighborhood, but there are also city playgrounds, including Desalvio, Minetta, and Thompson Street, among others. Perhaps the most famous, though, is "The Cage," officially known as the West 4th Street Courts. Located above the West Fourth Street–Washington Square subway station at Sixth Avenue, the courts are the stomping grounds of basketball and American handball players from all over New York. The Cage has also become one of the most important sites for the citywide "Streetball" amateur basketball tournament.
Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1973 the Village Halloween Parade
takes place every year on October 31st at 6PM in the Village. A mile-long ad hoc pageant of masqueraders, mummers, drag queens, exhibitionists, drunkards, druggies, puppets and pets, the parade draws an audience of two million from throughout the region and is the largest Halloween event in the country.
Fine dining can be had at a number of chic restaurants in the Village, noteworthy are the celebrity frequented Butter
, the classic American cuisine at the Gotham Bar and Grill
, or more casual lighter fare at Atomic Wings
on 4th Street (famous for its trans fat free buffalo wings).
Lastly, if all of the above information has convinced you that the Village is where it's at, you might want to consider a stay at one of the hotels in the neighborhood or nearby vicinity. The Mercer Hotel
on the street of the same name offers loft living accommodations, as well as celebrity clientele and world-famous Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Mercer Kitchen
. The recently renovated Washington Square Hotel
offer first class accommodations and Greenwich Village walking tours. Or for a truly unique place to stay, you can check out the Minetta Suites
, located on a small, secluded side street in Greenwich Village, just off MacDougal Street. This historic hotel is located in a five-story yellow residential building and boasts rooms which include kitchenettes with microwave ovens, refrigerators, and espresso machines.