Astor Place Area

4 Astor Place

Astor Place and its namesake, the Astor family, stretch back in New York’s colorful history. John Jacob Astor’s rags-to-riches story (he arrived penniless from Germany via England) is one of the 19th century’s best. His American Fur Company and Pacif... more

Astor Place and its namesake, the Astor family, stretch back in New York’s colorful history. John Jacob Astor’s rags-to-riches story (he arrived penniless from Germany via England) is one of the 19th century’s best. His American Fur Company and Pacific Fur Company cornered the fur trade; not surprisingly, the emblems decorating the Astor Place subway station are beavers, whose pelts made him one of the richest Americans of his day. The New York Public Library owes much of its existence due to the early Astor Library and subsequent bequests it received from the Astor Foundation. For decades, the reigning matriarch of the Astor clan, Brooke Astor, was a major benefactor of charitable organizations in New York, and despite her more than 100 years, she hasn't retreated from her incredible number of philanthropic activities. Starting at Broadway, you’ll find the famous Astor Place Hair Designers, where barbers perform amazingly quick and stylish haircuts at very reasonable prices. Walking west to Lafayette Street, you’ll pass by a unique school that teaches and provides counseling for transgender, gay and lesbian youth, next door to a large Barnes & Noble Bookstore. Arriving at Lafay... more

Astor Place and its namesake, the Astor family, stretch back in New York’s colorful history. John Jacob Astor’s rags-to-riches story (he arrived penniless from Germany via England) is one of the 19th century’s best. His American Fur Company and Pacific Fur Company cornered the fur trade; not surprisingly, the emblems decorating the Astor Place subway station are beavers, whose pelts made him one of the richest Americans of his day. The New York Public Library owes much of its existence due to the early Astor Library and subsequent bequests it received from the Astor Foundation. For decades, the reigning matriarch of the Astor clan, Brooke Astor, was a major benefactor of charitable organizations in New York, and despite her more than 100 years, she hasn't retreated from her incredible number of philanthropic activities.

Starting at Broadway, you’ll find the famous Astor Place Hair Designers, where barbers perform amazingly quick and stylish haircuts at very reasonable prices. Walking west to Lafayette Street, you’ll pass by a unique school that teaches and provides counseling for transgender, gay and lesbian youth, next door to a large Barnes & Noble Bookstore. Arriving at Lafayette, the street opens into a plaza containing the famous big black cube. Popular among skateboarders trying out new moves, the cube is a favorite meeting place for those en route to the nearby Public Theater, Cooper Union and East Village. An enormous new high-rise has been erected on the site of a former parking lot, which to some looks stylish and to others a garish Chinese-style condominium. Have a look at the lampposts here, many of which have been lovingly decorated with mosaic tiles (such as the above photo) by neighborhood residents.

Next door, take a look at Cooper Union’s landmark façade; the school was founded by Peter Cooper, a notable 19th century industrialist and philanthropist. Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and Clinton have given speeches in its Great Hall. Also visit Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, or take in a movie or play. Its celebrated founder, Joseph Papp, founded it in 1954 as the Shakespeare Workshop. Renamed the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1962, the Delacorte Theater in Central Park became the Festival's permanent summertime home.

Astor Place ends at Third Avenue, so continue on down St. Marks Place, a great block haunted by the punk rockers in the 1980s, music and book stores in the 1990s, and now mostly an open-air market selling many of the same cheap knock-offs available in Chinatown. But the great Kim’s Video, bigger than ever, still has a fine variety of offbeat video, vinyl and CDs. Some of the better-known places to eat on St. Marks Place include Dojo, Grand Sichuan, Khyber Pass, La Palapa, and Yaffa Café. Get fresh coffee beans at Porto Rico Importing Co. near Second Avenue, and continue walking east to enjoy some of the East Village’s best offerings as you head to Avenue A, where St. Marks Place ends at Tompkins Square Park.


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East Village Description

Astor Place Area is located in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. Long before the musical "Rent" brought in legions of pierced, tattooed teenagers from every corner of America (and drove up the rents), the East Village was an eclectic mix of elderly Ukranians and Poles, Dominican and Puerto Rican families, and assorted artists, wanna-be bohemians, punks, their followers, lovers and friends. (Did we leave anyone out?) Largely gone are the heroin dealers, all night parties, punk music extravaganzas and infamous Bagel Tree of the 1980s and early 1990s, but the real landmarks remain, including the Joseph Papp Public Theater, Tompkins Square Park, and Cooper Union. The Public offers some of New York’s finest Off-Broadway Theater as well as Joe’s Pub, with a diverse variety of live shows. Beautiful Tompkins Square Park offers something for everyone, including dog runs, basketball courts, a weekly market, outdoor music events, and occasionally local characters chatting late into the night to infrequent riots. To be fair, few other parks in America have played such an important role in radical or anarchist history.

Many long-time residents complain of the neighborhood’s recent gentrification, and skyrocketing rents forced even legendary punk club CBGB's to exit the neighborhood, replaced by a John Varvatos boutique. And while there are truly many new restaurants and boutiques dotting Avenues A, B and C, lots of the famous watering holes, dives, and other unclassifiably scrappy bars remain. Some of our favorites include Mars on lower First Avenue, Zum Schneider on Avenue C, 2A on the corner of Second Street and Avenue A, and Lit Lounge, with its adjoining Fuse Gallery. Make sure to check out the Polish butcher stores on First Avenue and the nearby Italian pastry shops, walk along the Ukranian strip of Second Avenue, try one of the Japanese restaurants on East Ninth Street, and also walk along St. Marks Place, one of New York’s most eclectic streets.

East 4th Street's Theater Row boasts cultural buildings which house eight theaters and twelve dance companies as well as a couple of community development groups. Among its members are New York Theater Workshop, La MaMa Experimental Theatre, Rod Rodgers Dance Co., WOW Cafe Theatre, Millennium Film Workshop, Duo Multicultural Arts Center, Teatro Circulo, Downtown Art, Alpha Omega Dance Co., Choices Theater, Teatro IATI, Cooper Square Committee and Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association.

The Nuyorican Poets Café is still going strong on East Third Street between Avenues B and C. Since 1973 its mission has been to create a multi-cultural venue that provides a stage for artists traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream media and culture. Poetry slams, theater performances, open jam sessions for hip-hop, poetry and jazz, as well as unique screenplay readings all take place on a weekly basis in this intimate cultural setting.

For film buffs, we would be remiss not to mention the Anthology Film Archives on East 2nd Street, a local theater best known for consistently showing the finest in avant-garde and experimental cinema. We also recommend the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on East Houston Street, home away from home for those who enjoy great acoustics and the company of die hard independent film fans.

The East Village is also home to the trendy Cooper Square Hotel as well as the charming Gem Hotel, making it a great neighborhood to enjoy your stay in New York.

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4 Astor Place
New York, NY 10003

Editorial Rating

Nearby Subway

  • to 8th St/New York Univ
  • to Astor Place -- 0.1

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