Popularized and romanticized in the musical “Rent,” the East Village has always been a diverse neighborhood. Bordered by East 14th Street, Broadway, Houston and the East River; this mostly rental area gained recognition in the 1960s as a bohemian enclave and in the 70s as the birthplace of American punk rock. The buildings in the area are mostly older tenement-style apartments.
Some long-time residents complain of the neighborhood’s recent gentrification as the neighborhood ranks high with the under-30 crowd bringing new restaurants and boutiques throughout Alphabet City. Still, the East Village remains an incredibly rich area culturally, home to the Joseph Papp Public Theater, Cooper Union, Joe’s Pub, the Nuyorican Poetry Café, Bowery Poetry Club, and East 4th Street’s Theater Row which boasts cultural buildings which house eight theaters and twelve dance companies as well as a couple of community development groups. For indie film lovers there are the Anthology Film Archives on East 2nd and the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on East Houston. And for the music lovers, while legendary punk clubs CBGBs and Electric Circus may have closed, there are still several great venues nearby, among them the Bowery Ballroom, Mercury Lounge, and Sidewalk Café, as well as plethora of bars both upscale and divey.
The 10.5 acre Tompkins Square Park, despite its riotous history, is one of the city’s loveliest parks. Among its ancient elms, you can find something for everyone, including dog runs, basketball courts, a weekly market, and outdoor music events. Also worth exploring are Little Ukraine, Little India, Little Japan and St. Mark’s Place.