During the 20th century, New York’s Greenwich Village was home to the city’s coolest residents. Small printing presses, experimental theater, and gay bars and lesbian bars thrived here along with a strong alternative culture. After World War II, leaders of The Beat Generation wrote poems and stories in Village coffee houses. Though many of the artists have been pushed out by high rents in today’s New York, Greenwich Village still offers high culture, cheap food and small-town coziness.
Start out in Washington Square Park. Here, alongside dog parks and food carts, you’ll find the Washington Square Arch. Built in 1892, this marble arch was based on Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. Head to the southeast corner of the park to challenge someone to an outdoor game of chess.
Grab a bite to eat on MacDougal Street, just to the south of Washington Square Park. Once lined with bohemian coffee houses, this street now hosts cheap ethnic food. Enjoy a falafel, an Indian wrap or a slice of pizza.
Greenwich Village has a long tradition of experimental live theater but these days, it is a center for New York’s film community. Catch a limited-release film at the IFC Center. This art-house theater replaced the Village’s beloved Waverly Theater on Sixth Avenue. If you prefer, catch a film classic at Film Forum in the southwest part of the village.
Take a stroll along the the narrow streets of the West Village for a glimpse of the neighborhood as it once was. Here, the winding, diagonal streets rebel against the grid of the rest of the city, making an excellent place to wander.
Turn down Christopher Street to see one of the most important locations for the American gay rights movement. The Stonewall Inn was the site of the historic Stonewall riots of the 1960s, in which gay activists fought against police for three days. Today, Christopher Street offers bars and shops popular with the LGBT community.
Greenwich Village is served by numerous metro and bus stops. Arrive at the West 4th Street metro stop for the most central location.