Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village


            The Greenwich Village, or simply “The Village”, is a small, cosmopolitan area located in lower Manhattan. Its perimeters lie between Broadway on the east, The Hudson River on the west, Houston Street to the south and 14th Street to the north. The majority of the village is considered part of the Historic district, which means that the main veneers and asthetic outer structure of buildings in the location are preserved, even during renovations.





             Named after Greenwich, London, Greenwich Village was once considered a hamlet (land smaller than a village), complete with a separate street layout than the rest of Manhattan. It officially became a village under English rule in 1712 and was first referred to as Grin'wich in 1713. In 1811, when New York City's grid plan was put into commission, the Village was allowed to maintain its own layout, which explains why much of the village’s streets are peculiar in comparison to the rest of NYC.




            Greenwich Village is generally known as an important landmark within bohemian culture. The neighborhood is known for serving as a home for artistic residents, and a safehouse for alternative culture. The progressive attitudes of many of residents in The Village has traditionally created a launching ground for new movements and ideas, whether political, artistic, or cultural. The culture typically equated to The Village began in the early 20th century with the arrival of art galleries, small presses and experimental theater to the area.

            The Village became an icon in bohemian culture during the 1950s, when the Beat Generation used it as a sanctuaty from what they deemed the oppression of social conformity. A collection of writers, poets, artists, and students took up residency in The Village, becoming the home of a couner-culture movement, which it still serves as today, acting as a safe haven for the gay liberation movement. The Village served as a muse for many works by famous writers including, among others, Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg, William S. Burroghs and Dylan ThomasGreenwich Village also played a primary  role in the evolution of the 1960s folk music scene. Three of the four members of The Mamas and The Papas met there, and world renound songwriter Bob Dylan resides there currently.

            As a matter of fact, several cultural and popular icons started in the Village's nightclub, theater, and coffeehouse scene during the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. Folk stars Peter, Paul and Mary, rock legends Simon and Garfunkle and highly respected musician Nina Simone all have ties to The Village. While the bohemian days of Greenwich Village have passed, mainly due to the increasingly high housing costs in the area, Greenwich Village remains home to many artists and creative figures, including Uma Thurman, Jon Stewart, Liv Tyler and even Barbra Pierce Bush, the daughter of U.S. President George W. Bush. 

            Today, The Villages indulges itself in trends and still plays a huge presence in groundbreaking art, as it serves as a foundation for many independent film festivals, performance art, and poetry readings. You’ll also find uniquely independent stores, thrifty clothing stores, grunge bars, and inexpensive cafes.




            The Village encompasses many interesting landmarks itself, assembling several museums, including the New York University art gallery and the Forbes Magazine galleries; restaurants, including The Corner Bistro and Plain Canvas; colleges, including  NYU and Yeshiva University’s law branch; and parks, including Washington Square Park and The 4th Street Courts, also known as "The Cage".

            It is also home to Christopher Street, which is a symbol of gay pride, and also hosts the world's oldest gay and lesbian bookstore, Oscar Wilde Bookshop, founded in 1967. The Village also serves as a community that celebrates gay culture, and anchors New York's "Village Halloween Parade", the largest in the country, every October 31st. The parade plays out as a mile-long extravaganza of a circus-like milieu, complete with drag queens and extroverts, drunkards, drawing an audience of two million.




By: Stephen Edwards