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History Of The East Village

The East Village was once the northern division of the Lower East Side, but in the 1960s, the demographics of the area above Houston Street changed as hippies, musicians and artists moved in. As the East Village developed a culture separate from the rest of the Lower East Side, the two areas came to be seen as two separate neighborhoods. Over the last 100 years, the East Village/Lower East Side neighborhood has been considered one of the strongest contributors to arts and culture in New York.

The East Village is known as the birthplace and historical home of many artistic and cultural movements, including: punk rock, the American gangster, the Warhol Superstars, folk music, anti-folk, hip-hop and experimental theater.

During the 1980s, the East Village art gallery scene helped to galvanize a new post-modern art in America, showing artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nan Goldin and Jeff Koons.

The East Village in the 1990s provided inspiration for the Broadway musical Rent.

Description Of The Neighborhood

The East Village is known for a diverse community, vibrant nightlife and artistic sensibility.

A Japanese expatriate scene forms in the noodle shops and bars that line Saint Marks Place, also home to an aged punk culture and CBGB's new store. The street has long hosted alternative retailers, including St. Marks Comics, Trash & Vaudeville, a handful of open front markets that sell sunglasses and silver jewelry, as well as many record stores with rare and competitively priced merchandise.

The many small movie theaters in the neighborhood include Landmark's Sunshine Theater, Village East Cinema, Anthology Film Archives and City Cinema Village East.

There are about 60 community gardens in the East Village, constituting 10 percent of all the community gardens in New York, giving the neighborhood a relatively green feel.  

Nearby neighborhoods include: The Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, Noho, Gramercy, Alphabet City (partially contained within the East Village), Nolita, Little Italy and Chinatown.


Tompkins Square Park (East 7th and Ave A), which has a history of activism and protests, is currently known for its playgrounds, dog run, monuments, basketball courts, handball courts and built-in outdoor chess tables, which attract young families, students and senior citizens.

The East River Park (East River from Montgomery St to 12th St) has football, baseball and soccer fields, tennis, basketball and handball courts, a running track and bike paths. There is an amphitheater for public performances, access to the East River for fishing and views of The Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge.

The Sock Man (27 Saint Marks Place) sells unusual and creative socks.

Performance Space 122 (150 1st Ave) is an Off-off Broadway theatre that has hosted thousands of world-premier and ongoing works by such artists as Eric Bogosian, Spalding Gray, Karen Finley, Eddie Izzard and John Leguizamo, and serves as a home to countless emerging artists.

The Ukrainian Museum (222 East 6th St) is the largest museum in the U.S. committed to acquiring, preserving and exhibiting articles of artistic or historic significance to the cultural heritage of Ukrainians.

Anthology Film Archives (32 2nd Ave) is a cinema and film archive devoted to the preservation and exhibition of experimental film.

The New Museum of Contemporary Art (235 Bowery) is the only museum in New York exclusively devoted to presenting contemporary art from around the world.

Stomp (126 2nd Ave) is a unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy.

The Mercury Lounge (217 E Houston St) is a popular music venue.

The Pearl Theatre Company (80 St. Marks Place) produces a full range repertory theatre, strongly rooted in the classics, like Shakespeare.

The Fort at Sidewalk Café (94 Ave. A) is a music venue within a restaurant that was the birthplace of the antifolk musical movement. Entertainment ranges from Antifolk to comedy, spoken word, jazz, pop and rock.

The Metropolitan Playhouse (220 East 4th St) explores America’s theatrical heritage to illuminate contemporary American culture. The Playhouse produces early American plays, new plays drawn from American culture and history, and plays from around the world that resonate with the American canon.

Nuyorican Poets Café (236 East 3rd St) is a forum for poetry, music, hip hop, video, visual arts, comedy and theatre.

Bowery Poetry Club & Café (308 Bowery) sponsors poetry events every night, and workshops and readings in the afternoons.

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (74A E. 4th St) is one of the primary Off-Off Broadway theaters, with the purpose of supporting and presenting multi-cultural and multi-national original performance work by emerging artists.

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