A trip to New York is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their life! The Big Apple offers tourists many attractions, including neighborhoods where you can breathe the true soul of the city.
Speaking of New York's neighborhoods. One of the most interesting is East Village, a colorful and busy special district, away from chaos and skyscrapers, where you can completely immerse yourself in the style of the avant-garde of music and art history.
The History of East Village
The East Village neighborhood has changed a lot over the years. In fact, it was born in the 19th century as a district for the rich American families, but already from the 20th century, with mass immigration to New York, it became a district for immigrants, especially from Eastern Europe. It is known to still have a strong Ukrainian community today.
From the 1970s onwards, the appearance of the district changed radically. It is depopulated due to the economic crisis.
The district's abandonment caused property prices to collapse, allowing poor artists and musicians to rent spaces and quickly revitalize the area's life. The latter became the nerve center of the new artistic and musical avant-gardes; among these in particular the NO-WAVE.
What to see in East Village
The East Village is a special area that doesn't have any major attractions per se. The most important thing is to explore the district itself, which is considered an open-air art gallery where you can breathe the atmosphere of the intellectual counterculture that has developed since the 70s.
When strolling through the East Village, there are some sights that deserve to be seen once in a lifetime. Below we want to find out exactly what they are.
The most important area of the East Village is definitely Alphabet City, so called because here the streets are shown with the letters of the alphabet instead of the usual numbers.
Alphabet City is a residential area where you can find delicious bistros and all kinds of shops around the clock where you can buy an art painting or an underground music record.
This is the part of New York that everyone dreams and imagines of discovering, colored by the murals, with background music and the presence of numerous street artists and young people whizzing on their skateboards.
Merchant's House Museum
The Merchant's House Museum is the ideal place for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the East Village. It was built in 1832 and was once the home of an old merchant. Today, the original interior remains a landmark of American architecture of the period.
Museum opening hours:
- Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m
- Friday to Monday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m
One of the most important buildings in the East Village is the Cooper Union, a university considered outstanding for architecture, design and engineering.
Alamo Cubes and the new and old Cooper Union
Founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, it is the first American university to offer full scholarships to all students.
In the Cooper Union you can admire the fantastic Great Hall, where Abraham Lincoln gave one of his first speeches, followed by numerous Presidents of the United States.
You can visit La Cooper Union between Cooper Square and Astor Place.
Alamo is a special sculpture, a black steel cube that can rotate when pressed. It was created by Tony Rosenthal and is located in the center of Astor Place in the East Village.
Installed in 1967 for the "Sculpture and Environment" initiative launched by the city's Cultural Affairs, it was intended to be a temporary installation that over time became a symbol of the East Village neighborhood.
What to eat in the East Village
There are plenty of places in the East Village area where you can enjoy a leisurely meal without spending a fortune.
If you want something to eat and drink, be sure to walk along St. Marks Place, a street that is always busy, full of young people, restaurants and bistros on every corner.
The Tree Bistro represents the cool and innovative style of the neighborhood. The kitchen offers numerous dishes, especially French cuisine, and a wide selection of wines, which make it an ideal place for aperitifs at a really affordable price.
For those who love Italy and can't go without a good plate of pasta in New York, you can indulge yourself in the East Village by heading to Giano, one of the best Italian restaurants in the city.
In the heart of the East Village you will find Momofuku Ko, an Asian restaurant that is one of the most famous in New York with two Michelin stars.
Here it's really important to book in advance to get a table, otherwise you'll have to eat at the bar. If you are a lover of Asian cuisine, this is definitely worth it!
The restaurant fully respects the East Village style, with industrial furniture and lots of murals that make it an absolutely trendy place.
The cuisine varies between Chinese, Japanese and Korean dishes.
Eating at Momofuku Ko is an experience, but be prepared. The bill could be pretty salty!
Speakeasy in East Village
In addition to the good restaurants, the East Village is the ideal place for aperitifs and drinks with friends!
In this area you will find something unique that only New York can offer, Speakeasy, the secret bars of New York.
During the Prohibition era, when it was illegal to consume alcohol in America, there were many bars in New York that served alcohol illegally. Some of them are still open today and you can find them right in the East Village area.
I also remind you that I dedicated an entire tour to these bars to discover the speakeasy. Click here to find out more!