There’s no denying that New York City has a reputation for being liberal and progressive. But did you know that distinction mostly started in this Manhattan neighborhood?
You might not know it from the sky-high house prices here today, but Greenwich Village in New York City was once a bohemian haven, one of the birthplaces of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, as well as the hotbed of the Beat Generation. What once was a sanctuary for creatives, including poet Edgar Allan Poe and novelist Floyd Dell, is now a popular choice of residence for highly paid actors and musicians. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely lost its boho vibe.
Here’s a tip: call it just “the Village” if you want to fit in. With its winding streets that provide a stark contrast to the gridded layout of the rest of New York City, this neighborhood was once an isolated hamlet with its own flair. Starting in the 20th century, new ideas flourished here. From the first racially integrated nightclub to LGBT movements, the Village focused on acceptance and diversity.
Over the years, educational institutions have claimed a bit of the Village for themselves, meaning higher education plays a major role here today. Wander the city campus of New York University or check out the design displays at the Pratt Institute or Parsons School of Design. The student populations, who come from all over the world, help to maintain the area’s progressive atmosphere.
The arts culture here is also alive and kicking. Walk through the neighborhood any evening of the week and you’ll hear laughter escaping from comedy clubs and the sounds of jazz drifting through the air. Catch a show at an Off-Broadway – or even an Off-Off-Broadway – theater.
Hungry? Whether you’re a diehard carnivore or a gluten-free vegan, you’re well catered for. Chic vegetarian eateries sit alongside authentic Italian restaurants and Asian-inspired clam bars. Consider brunch in an old speakeasy or a late-night snack at a hole-in-the-wall falafel place.