The Statue of Liberty, Fifth Avenue, The World Trade Center, The Empire State Building, and The West Village. Is anything more quintessential New York? The West Village (“Greenwich Village”) is a beloved neighborhood in Manhattan that stems from a progressive place to one of historic preservation and prosperity. Why is it so beloved? Why is it preserved? And, does it still resonate?
The West Village is quite literally “off the grid.” The streets here were established before the planning commission of 1811 created the “grid” layout that made New York streets famous. The streets here are diagonal, and meant to run along with the Hudson River. If you want to just walk the streets and get lost in New York, this is the neighborhood for you.
The West Village has always been a focal point of new movements and ideas. As an enclave of Avant-Garde and alternative cultures, this neighborhood has housed some of the greatest poets, writers, artists, political minds, and progressives in the United States, including Mark Twain, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollack, Marcel Duchamp, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, William S. Burroughs, Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Rod McKuen, Marianne Moore, Dylan Thomas, William Faulkner, John Reed, and Andy Warhol.
Further, the Stonewall Inn stands proudly as a historic landmark from the Stonewall Riots that led to more rights and freedoms for the LGBTQ+ community. (Side note – across the street from the Stonewall Inn – The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop stands with pride.)
The West Village has kept its downtown progressive and bohemian culture, but added a lot of Botox along the way. “Little Bohemia” still has progressive ideals and NYU, but housing costs are some of the most expensive in the city.
Pizza, Pasta, and Eats – Oh My!
The West Village has some of the most notable restaurants in the city. From celeb sightings at Bar Pitti to sun and chill with Mexican fare and margaritas at Caliente Cab, Co or pizza wars between John’s of Bleecker St. (Noah’s Fav), Bleecker Street Pizza (My Fav) or Joe’s Pizza. You’ll never want for anything when you’re surrounded by top-tier specialty foods from Murray’s Cheese to the famous and historic high-end One If By Land, Two If By Sea, to desserts at Milk Bar, to hot dogs at Papaya Dog to brunch at Jack’s Wife Frida.
During non-COVID times, no where parties like downtown New York. And, although a definitive competition exists between the West Village and the East Village, the West Village reigns supreme for jazz lovers (The Blue Note), gay musical theater singers (Marie’s Crisis), and up-and-coming singer-songwriters and indie bands (The Bitter End). It’s not as punk/edgy/rock/urban as the East Village and the Lower East Side, but the West Village has a way of making their crowds feel at home. And, historically, what’s more edgy than the first racially integrated club? From the 1930s – 1940s the West Village was home to Café Society where all races and creeds could join over drinks, debauchery, and dancing. That same open-minded and progressive spirit still thrives today, even if that particular club is long gone.
Lusting Over Landmarks
On top of all of that, the West Village is simply beautiful. From the multiple parks and playgrounds down 6th Avenue, to the famous Washington Square Park, to the Hudson River Park, the area is surrounded by green space. Then, when you look around and see all of the 19th century architecture and wrought iron, it’s hard not to fall completely in love with the aesthetic. That’s probably why you see dozens of Insta influencers having photo shoots on any given day. Grab a big gay ice cream, a slice of pizza, and a notebook and head to Washington Square Park where you can live like a Beatnik, even if only for a day.
Other NYC Ideas!
Check out our previous posts for other NYC neighborhoods to check-out!
- Toasting the American Museum of Natural History
- Toasting Winter Walks
- Long Island City, Queens
- North Fork, Long Island
- Red Hook
- Rockaway Beach
- Murray Hill and Midtown East
- Central Park
- Discover the Best NYC Landmark and Lookout – Just For You!
- Spookiest Spots in NYC
- Sleepy Hollow
- New York Botanical Garden
- Tea Tasting in Soho and LES
- Toasting Holiday Spirit in NYC!
- Merry Christmas from Midtown Manhattan
- New York City Zoos
More coming each week!
And…it’s 2021…So, here’s my reminder.
Should I Come to New York in 2021?
If you are living outside the Northeast, the answer is still, sadly, no. For more on this, check out our other posts on 3 Months of New York City, Riding the Second Wave, Wandering and Wondering in NYC, and New York: Awakening from COVID-19 Slumber. The government is doing its best to make sure it stays below a certain percentage. Because, with so many people living in such a close proximity, pandemics are especially lethal here.
***UPDATE*** Since November 4th, the mandatory 14-day quarantine has ended! New York has moved to a test-based travel restriction. You have to show a negative COVID-19 test result from the past 72 hours upon arrival, then, three days after arrival (and quarantine), you have to receive another test here. If it’s negative, you’re good to go. If it’s positive, you must continue to quarantine. So, this means shorter quarantines (yay!), but two tests… Stay home if you can…If you can’t, you’ve been warned!
Wait this one out…New York will still be here when the dust settles.
As always, don’t forget to Toast The Moon to all of your international travels by visiting our store, and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and the ‘gram to catch all of our latest posts and adventures!
Stay in your region this year, stay safe, stay distant, and be like the NYC statues – wear your masks! We’ll see you on the other side.
Noah and Majhon