East Village, Manhattan

East Village, Manhattan
Neighborhood in Manhattan

Second Avenue and 6th Street, facing south.

Location of the East Village in Lower Manhattan, denoted in gray
East Village, Manhattan

Map of New York City, with the dot showing the position of East Village in Manhattan

Coordinates: 40°43′39″N 73°59′09″W / 40.72750°N 73.98583°W / 40.72750; -73.98583Coordinates: 40°43′39″N 73°59′09″W / 40.72750°N 73.98583°W / 40.72750; -73.98583
Country  United States
State  New York
City New York City
Borough/County Manhattan/New York
Named 1960s[1]
Streets 2nd Avenue, 1st Avenue, Avenue A, Bowery, St. Marks Place
Population (2010)[2]
  Total 62,832
Demonym(s) East Villager
ZIP code 10002, 10003, 10009, 10012
Congressional Districts 8, 12, and 14
New York State Assembly Districts 64, 66, and 74
New York State Senate Districts 25 and 29
City Council District New York City Council District 2
Community Board Manhattan Community Board 3
Police precinct NYPD 9th Precinct
Fire protection 4th and 6th Battalions

East Village is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Its boundary to the north is Gramercy Park and Stuyvesant Town, to the south by the Lower East Side, and to the east by the East River. Generally, although definitions vary on the neighborhood's exact street boundaries,[3] the East Village is considered to be the area east of Broadway to the East River, between 14th Street and Houston Street.[1]

The area was once generally considered to be part of the Lower East Side with a large Russian, Ukrainian and Jewish population but gradually changed and by the late 1960s, many artists, musicians, students and hippies began to move into the area, attracted by cheap rents and the base of Beatniks who had lived there since the 1950s. The neighborhood has become a center of the counterculture in New York, and is known as the birthplace and historical home of many artistic movements, including punk rock[4] and the Nuyorican literary movement.[5] It has also been the site of protests and riots.

East Village is still known for its diverse community, vibrant nightlife and artistic sensibility, although in recent decades it has been argued that gentrification has changed the character of the neighborhood.[6]


Early development

Former German-American Shooting Society Clubhouse at 12 St Mark's Place (1885). East Village once had a sizable Little Germany, an area within which this building is located.

The area that is today known as the East Village was originally a farm owned by Dutch Governor-General Wouter van Twiller. Peter Stuyvesant received the deed to this farm in 1651, and his family held on to the land for over seven generations, until a descendant began selling off parcels of the property in the early 19th century. Wealthy townhouses dotted the dirt roads for a few decades until the great Irish and German immigration of the 1840s and 1850s.

Speculative land owners began building multi-unit dwellings on lots meant for single family homes, and began renting out rooms and apartments to the growing working class, including many immigrants from Germany. From roughly the 1850s to first decade of the 20th century, the neighborhood has the third largest urban population of Germans outside of Vienna and Berlin, known as Klein Deutschland ("Little Germany"). It was America's first foreign language neighborhood; hundreds of political, social, sports and recreational clubs were set up during this period, and some of these buildings still exist. However, the vitality of the community was sapped by the General Slocum disaster on June 15, 1904, in which over a thousand German-Americans died.

Later waves of immigration also brought many Poles and, especially, Ukrainians to the area, creating an Ukrainian enclave in the city. Since the 1890s there has been a large concentration roughly from 10th Street to 5th Street, between 3rd Avenue and Avenue A. The post-World War II diaspora, consisting primarily of Western Ukrainian intelligentsia, also settled down in the area. Several churches, including St. George's Catholic Church; Ukrainian restaurants and butcher shops; The Ukrainian Museum; the Shevchenko Scientific Society; and the Ukrainian Cultural Center are evidence of the impact of this culture on the area.

The area originally ended at the East River, to the east of where Avenue D is now located, until landfill including World War II debris and rubble shipped from London was used to extend the shoreline outward to provide foundation for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.[7]

New neighborhood

A wall in the East Village, featuring a mural of two men

Until the mid-1960s, the area was simply the northern part of the Lower East Side, with a similar culture of immigrant, working class life. In the 1950s, the migration of Beatniks into the neighborhood later attracted hippies, musicians and artists well into the 1960s.[1] The area was dubbed the "East Village", to dissociate it from the image of slums evoked by the Lower East Side. According to The New York Times, a 1964 guide called Earl Wilson's New York wrote that "artists, poets and promoters of coffeehouses from Greenwich Village are trying to remelt the neighborhood under the high-sounding name of 'East Village.'"[1]

Newcomers and real estate brokers popularized the new name, and the term was adopted by the popular media by the mid-1960s.[8][9] In 1966 a weekly newspaper, The East Village Other, appeared and The New York Times declared that the neighborhood "had come to be known" as the East Village in the edition of June 5, 1967.[1]

Arts scenes

Music scene

Patti Smith, seen here in Copenhagen in 1976, is one of the many poets, musicians and artists who got their start in the East Village[10]

In 1966, Andy Warhol promoted a series of multimedia shows, entitled "The Exploding Plastic Inevitable", and featuring the music of the Velvet Underground, in a Polish ballroom on St. Marks Place. On June 27, 1967, the Electric Circus opened in the same space with a benefit for the Children's Recreation Foundation whose chairman was Bobby Kennedy. The Grateful Dead, The Chambers Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Allman Brothers Band were among the many rock bands that performed there before it closed in 1971.

On March 8, 1968, Bill Graham opened the Fillmore East in what had been a Yiddish Theatre on Second Avenue at East 6th Street in the Yiddish Theater District. The venue quickly became known as "The Church of Rock and Roll", with two-show concerts several nights a week. While booking many of the same bands that had played the Electric Circus, Graham particularly used the venue, as well as its West Coast counterpart, to establish in the US British bands such as The Who, Pink Floyd, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream and Led Zeppelin. The Fillmore East closed in 1971.

CBGB, the nightclub considered by some to be the birthplace of punk music, was located in the neighborhood, as was the early punk standby A7. No Wave and New York hardcore also emerged in the area's clubs. Among the many important bands and singers who got their start at these clubs and other venues in downtown Manhattan were Patti Smith, Arto Lindsay, the Ramones, Blondie, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Madonna, Talking Heads, Television, the Plasmatics, Glenn Danzig, Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys, Anthrax, and The Strokes.

Few icons of the punk scene remain in the neighborhood as it changed. Richard Hell lives in the same apartment he has lived in since the 1970s, and Handsome Dick Manitoba of The Dictators owns Manitoba's bar on Avenue B.

Art scene

Performer Murray Hill with the "Downtown Legends" wall at Mo Pitkins' House Of Satisfaction, depicting artists of the East Village performance scene, including the Reverend Jen, Nick Zedd, Allen Ginsberg, Reverend Billy

Over the last 100 years, the East Village and the Lower East Side have contributed significantly to American arts and culture in New York.[11] The neighborhood has been the birthplace of cultural icons and movements from the American gangster to the Warhol Superstars, folk music to punk rock, anti-folk to hip-hop, advanced education to organized activism, experimental theater to the Beat Generation and the community of experimental musicians, composers and improvisers now loosely known as the Downtown Scene.

Club 57, on St. Marks Place, was an important incubator for performance art and visual art in the late 1970s and early 1980s; followed by Now Gallery, 8BC and ABC No Rio.

During the 1980s, the East Village art gallery scene helped to galvanize a new post-modern art in America; showing such artists as Kiki Smith, Peter Halley, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Stephen Lack, Greer Lankton, Joseph Nechvatal, Jim Radakovich, Nan Goldin, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, Jeff Koons, Kevin Larmee, and Dave Vulcan.

The East Village, specifically the area known as Alphabet City, is also the setting for Jonathan Larson's musical Rent, which captures the neighborhood in the early 1990s; it opened at the New York Theatre Workshop in February 1996.[12] Rent describes a city devastated by the AIDS epidemic, drugs and high crime, and follows several characters in their efforts to make livings as artists.[13][14]


The East Village's performance and art scene has declined since its height in the 1970s and 1980s.[15] One club that tried to resurrect the neighborhood's past artistic prominence was Mo Pitkins' House of Satisfaction, part-owned by Jimmy Fallon of Saturday Night Live. The venue's past performers include figures such as Murray Hill, Rob Corddry, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Moby, and Debbie Harry.[16] It closed its doors in 2007. A study done by Fordham University notes the decline of the East Village performance and art scene, and how "the young, liberal culture that once found its place on the Manhattan side of the East River" has shifted in part to new neighborhoods like Williamsburg in Brooklyn.[17][18] Rapture Cafe also shut down in April 2008, and the neighborhood lost an important performance space and gathering ground for the gay community. There are still some performance spaces, such as Sidewalk Cafe on 6th Street and Avenue A, where downtown acts find space to exhibit their talent, and the poetry clubs Bowery Poetry Club and Nuyorican Poets Café.[19]

Photograph of St. Nicholas showing Second Street, just west of Avenue A. The church and almost all buildings on the street were demolished in the 1960s and replaced with parking lots

From 2004 to 2009, the art gallery American Painting, located on East 6th St., between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, exhibited the works of several New York and American artists, namely Andrei Kushnir, Michele Martin Taylor, Carol Spils, Barbara Nuss, Joachim Marx, Stevens Jay Carter and Michael Francis. One of their last exhibits, "East Village Afternoon", depicted local interiors, exteriors, and scenes of the changing neighborhood.[20]

Gentrification and preservation

Gentrification and effects

As has often been the pattern in Manhattan, a neighborhood that is "discovered" by artists and bohemians and then becomes "hip", will often begin to attract more affluent residents, which drives up the price of housing, and begins to drive out the residents who "turned over" the neighborhood. This is one theory of gentrification,[21] and some argue that it has also occurred in the New York City neighborhoods SoHo and Tribeca in Manhattan, as well as Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Over the course of time, this demographic shift begins to change the essential character of the neighborhood: it becomes safer, more comfortable, less tolerant of noise, and less "edgy". Some gentrification opponents say that this process causes the neighborhood to lose its unique identity for the sake of money.[22]

The term "gentrification" is often used to reflect this,[23] and the gentrification of the neighborhood has resulted in people being pushed out and some buildings in the area being torn down and replaced by newer buildings.[24] For instance, actor David Schwimmer bought an 1852 townhouse on East 6th Street in 2010 and got several notices of its possible landmark status the next year; however, he had the building torn down and rebuilt, which angered some of his neighbors.[25]


1st Avenue, looking north at 10th Street

In 2008 a rezoning modified much of the zoning in East Village. The area affected by the rezoning roughly bounded by East 13th Street on the north, Third Avenue on the west, Delancey Street on the south, and Avenue D on the east.[26][27] It was the first time that a rezoning had occurred in the area since 1961.

The rezoning was done in response to concerns about the character and scale of some of the new buildings in the neighborhood.[28] The previous zoning limited the area of floor space that a building could have, but there were no limits on building heights or on setbacks from the street. The new zoning established height limits for new development throughout the affected area, decreased allowable density in much of the midblock residential areas but increased it along wider thoroughfares, capped air rights transfers, eliminated the current zoning bonus for dorms and hotels, and created incentives for the creation and retention of affordable housing.[29]

The city first released a draft rezoning in July 2006, after hearing input from neighborhood advocates including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), Community Board 3, the East Village Community Coalition, and City Councilmember Rosie Mendez. Concerned that the Third Avenue corridor, where much of the most out-of-scale development was occurring, was left out of that draft, advocates continued to push for an expansion of the rezoning,[30] eventually securing the 3rd/4th Avenue Corridor Downzoning in 2010. The GVSHP report "Keeping in Character" summed up the changes this way:

"Under the new zoning, development tends to be shorter and much more similar in height to surrounding buildings, must maintain the all-important street wall, is usually less bulky than could have been built under the old zoning, and is more likely to be for residential use than a hotel or dormitory.

"In fact, in many cases the new zoning makes it more desirable to retain existing buildings rather than tear them down and replace them as the old zoning had encouraged. The rezoning does contain some zoning bulk bonuses for the creation or retention of affordable housing. But even in these cases the new developments are nevertheless required to maintain the same height limits as all other new developments in their zoning district."[31]

The rezoning process and hearings were marked by protests and accusations of promoting gentrification and increased property values over the Lower East Side's historic status as a home to New York's low-income immigrant communities and their needs for affordable housing. Residents of Chinatown, which is adjacent to the southern boundary of the rezoning area, were worried that by blocking the construction of tall, slender towers in the East Village, developers wishing to build in that style would turn their sights to Chinatown. Most of Chinatown is zoned as commercial districts, which are relatively lax in terms of building character and land use regulations. This led the Community Boards in the area (Boards 1, 2, and 3) to create the Chinatown Working Group in order to address the concerns of residents and to work to preserve Chinatown's particular character, employment opportunities, and affordable housing.

Landmark efforts

"Extra Place", an obscure side street off of East 1st Street, just east of the Bowery

Local community groups actively are working to gain individual and district landmark designations for the East Village to preserve and protect the architectural and cultural identity of the neighborhood. One such group is the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP). It has undertaken a complete survey of the East Village, documenting the history of every single building in the area.[32] In the spring of 2011, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) proposed two East Village historic districts: one small district covering the block of East 10th Street known as Tompkins Square North, and one larger district focused around lower Second Avenue that would encompass 15 blocks and 330 buildings.[33] The original proposal for the larger district excluded buildings such as the Pyramid Club and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on East 2nd Street. As a result of the efforts made by local community groups such as GVSHP, the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, East Village Community Coalition, and Historic Districts Council, however, the proposed district now includes these buildings.[34]

In January 2012, the East 10th Street Historic District was designated by the LPC. Minutes before the designation, an out-of-scale rooftop addition on one of the included buildings was approved by the Department of Buildings.[35] In October 2012 the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District – the larger district – was also designated by the LPC. Preservation and community groups of the East Village seek to have other buildings landmarked, including parts of St. Mark's Place, the blocks to the north, and more of the streets bordering Tompkins Square Park.[36] Other successful efforts to retain the neighborhood's low-rise character by controlling development include the East Village downzoning of 2008 and the 3rd/4th Avenue Corridor downzoning, effective in 2010.[37]

GVSHP and allied groups have rallied to get some notable buildings designated as individual landmarks, while other structures have been demolished over community objections. Individual landmarks include Webster Hall, a Romanesque Revival concert hall and nightclub designed in 1886 with an "extraordinary cultural history." According to GVSHP's 2007 request for evaluation for the building, "Over the last 120 years, the space has hosted everything from debutante balls and society dinners to wrestling matches, political rallies, union meetings, and bohemian costume dances."[38] Less than one year later, in 2007, the building was designated an individual landmark. A year earlier, the LPC designated P.S. 64, a French Renaissance Revival public school built in 1904-6 by architect and school superintendent C.B.J. Snyder.[39] Supporters hoped the 2006 vote would serve the practical purpose of ending the owner's removal of architectural details; it was but one chapter in a heated, ongoing controversy over the building, which had been used as the CHARAS/El Bohio community center until New York City sold it to developer Gregg Singer. The year 2006 also saw GVSHP call for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to prevent the demolition of the former Van Tassel and Kearney Horse Auction Mart, a building described as both stately and humble, built for horse trade but eventually used as a factory for "Rosie the Riveter"-type women working during World War II, then a studio of the major abstract expressionist Frank Stella.[40] The Commission did so by calendaring the building, and designated it a New York City landmark is 2012.

Other individual landmarks in the neighborhood include the former Yiddish Art Theater, now in use as a movie theater, which also is an interior landmark (a relatively rare distinction), designated in 1993; the Stuyvesant Polyclinic, built in 1884 and designated in 1976; the Children's Aid Society's Elizabeth Home for Girls, designated in 2008; and the First Houses, the country's first public housing development, built in 1935, designated in 1974, and still used as low-income housing today.

Looking south from East 6th Street down Second Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares through the East Village
East 5th Street between Second Avenue and Cooper Square is a typical side street in the heart of the East Village

Landmark efforts have included a number of losses as well. Despite the request of GVSHP and allied groups in 2012 for landmarking of Mary Help of Christians school, church and rectory, with parts dating to 1850 and designed by Nicholas Serracino, by July 2013 demolition had begun. A new development including residences and ground-floor retail is slated to fill the site.[41] In 2011, an early-19th century Federal house at 35 Cooper Square — one of the oldest on the Bowery and in the East Village — was demolished to make way for a college dorm, over requests of community groups and elected officials.[42]

The Landmarks Preservation Commission acts on no particular schedule, leaving some "calendared" requests for designation open indefinitely, such as the 1886 Tifereth Israel synagogue.[43] Sometimes it simply declines requests for consideration,[44] as it did regarding an unusually intact Italianate tenement at 143 E. 13th Street.

2015 gas explosion

On March 26, 2015, a gas explosion occurred on Second Avenue. The explosion was caused by the leaky gas line, which might have been tapped.[45]

The explosion and resulting fire destroyed three buildings at 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue, between East 7th Street and St. Marks Place. At least twenty-two people were injured, four critically, and two people were initially listed as missing. One body, as yet unidentified, was found in the rubble several days later.[46] Later, two men were found dead in the debris of the explosion; these men are presumed to be the ones listed as missing.[47] Three restaurants were also destroyed in the explosion.[48]


New York University

Along with gentrification, the East Village has seen an increase in the number of buildings owned and maintained by New York University, particularly dormitories for undergraduate students, and this influx has given rise to conflict between the community and the university.[49]

St. Ann's Church, a rusticated-stone structure with a Romanesque Revival tower on East 12th Street that dated to 1847, was sold to NYU to make way for a 26-story, 700-bed dormitory. After community protest, the university promised to protect and maintain the church's original facade; and so it did, literally, by having the facade stand alone in front of the building, now the tallest structure in the area.[49] According to many residents, NYU's alteration and demolition of historic buildings, such as the Peter Cooper Post Office, is spoiling the physical and socio-economic landscape that makes this neighborhood so interesting and attractive.[50]

NYU has often been at odds with residents of both the East and West Villages due to its expansive development plans; urban preservationist Jane Jacobs battled the school in the 1960s.[51] "She spoke of how universities and hospitals often had a special kind of hubris reflected in the fact that they often thought it was OK to destroy a neighborhood to suit their needs", said Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.[52]

Cooper Union

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, founded in 1859 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter Cooper and located on Cooper Square,[53] is one of the most selective colleges in the world,[54] and formerly offered tuition-free programs in engineering, art and architecture.[55][56] Its Great Hall is famous as a platform for historic speeches, notably Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union speech,[57][58] and its New Academic Building is the first in New York City to achieve LEED Platinum Status.[59]


The East Village contains several smaller vibrant communities, each with its own character.

Alphabet City

A Loisaida street fair in the summer of 2008.
St. Marks Place is a major shopping street, with many businesses that cater to the tourist trade

Alphabet City, comprising nearly two-thirds of the East Village, was once the archetype of a dangerous New York City neighborhood. Its turn-around was cause for The New York Times to observe in 2005 that Alphabet City went "from a drug-infested no man's land to the epicenter of downtown cool."[60] Its name comes from Avenues A, B, C, and D, the only avenues in Manhattan to have single-letter names. It is bordered by Houston Street to the south and 14th Street to the north. Landmarks within Alphabet City include Tompkins Square Park and the Nuyorican Poets Café.[61][62][63] This part of the neighborhood has long been an ethnic enclave for Manhattan's German, Polish, Hispanic, and Jewish populations. Crime went up in the area in the late 20th century but then declined in the 21st century, as the area became gentrifiied.[64]

Loisaida is a term derived from the Latino, and especially Nuyorican, pronunciation of "Lower East Side". The term was originally coined by poet/activist, Bittman "Bimbo" Rivas in his 1974 poem "Loisaida". Loisaida Avenue is now an alternative name for Avenue C in the Alphabet City neighborhood of New York City, whose population has largely been Hispanic (mainly Nuyorican) since the late 1960s. During the 1980s many of the old, vacant, tenement buildings in this area became inhabited by squatters.[65]

In Alphabet City, Eighth Street becomes St. Marks Place east of Third Avenue. It once had the cachet of Sutton Place, and was known as a secluded rich enclave in Manhattan, but by the 1850s had become a place for boarding houses and a German immigrant community.[66] It is named after St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, which was built on Stuyvesant Street but is now on 10th Street. St. Marks Place once began at the intersection of the Bowery and Stuyvesant Street, but today the street runs from Third Avenue to Avenue A. Japanese street culture and a Japanese expatriate scene forms in the noodle shops and bars that line the street, also home to an aged punk culture and CBGB's new store. It is home to one of the only Automats in New York City (it has since closed).[67] St. Marks Place is along the "Mosaic Trail", a trail of 80 mosaic-encrusted lampposts that runs from Broadway down Eighth Street to Avenue A, to Fourth Street and then back to Eighth Street. The project was undertaken by East Village public artist Jim Power, known as the "Mosaic Man".[68]


Once synonymous with "Bowery Bums", the Bowery area has become a magnet for luxury condominiums as the East Village neighborhood's rapid gentrification continues
Main article: Bowery

The Bowery, former home to the punk-rock nightclub CBGB that closed in 2006, was once known for its many homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation centers and bars. The phrase "On the Bowery", which has since fallen into disuse, was a generic way to say one was down-and-out.[69]

The Bow’ry, The Bow’ry!
They say such things,
and they do strange things
on the Bow’ry
From the musical A Trip to Chinatown, 1891[70]

Today, the Bowery has become a boulevard of new luxury condominiums. It is the location of the Bowery Poetry Club, contributing to the neighborhood's reputation as a place for artistic pursuit; artists Amiri Baraka and Taylor Mead held regular readings and performances in the space.[71]

Redevelopment of the avenue from flophouses to luxury condominiums has met resistance from long-term residents, who agree the neighborhood has improved but its unique, gritty character is disappearing.[72]

Little Ukraine

Taras Shevchenko Place, with St. George's Church on the north side, and St. George Academy on the south side.

Little Ukraine is an ethnic enclave in the East Village, which has served as a spiritual, political and cultural epicenter for several waves of Ukrainian Americans in New York City as far back as the late 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, Ukrainian immigrants began moving into areas previously dominated by fellow Eastern European and Galician Jews, as well as the Lower East Side's German enclave. After World War II, the Ukrainian population of the neighborhood reached 60,000,[73] but as with the city's Little Italy, today the neighborhood consists of only a few Ukrainian stores and restaurants. Today, the East Village between Houston and 14th Street, and Third Avenue and Avenue A[74] still houses nearly a third of New York City's Ukrainian population.[75]

Little Ukraine itself is traditionally defined as

As it did a century ago, St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church serves as the anchor of Little Ukraine, offering daily liturgies and penances, and operating the adjoining St. George Academy, a coeducational parochial school. Since 1976, the church has sponsored an annual Ukrainian Heritage Festival, regularly described as one of the few remaining authentic New York City street fairs.[76] In April 1978, the New York City Council renamed a small connecting street between East 7th Street and East 6th Street after Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's national bard.[77]

Parks and gardens

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park is the recreational and geographic heart of the East Village. It has historically been a part of counterculture, protest and riots.
The Tompkins Square dog run was the first in New York City, and is a social scene unto itself[78]
Main article: Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park is a 10.5 acres (42,000 m2) public park in the Alphabet City section of the East Village neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Square in shape, it is bounded on the north by East 10th Street, on the east by Avenue B, on the south by East 7th Street, and on the west by Avenue A. St. Marks Place abuts the park to the west.[79]

Communist Rally, 1877

In July 1877, railroad workers received their second wage cut of the year by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. On July 14, railroad employees in Martinsburg, West Virginia, began what came to be known as the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. On July 25, 1877, twenty thousand people gathered in Tompkins Square Park to hear communist orators speak about revolution, the strike, and the policies of President Hayes. All speeches were repeated in German at a second stand, as the neighborhood had such a large German population at that time. David Conroy, Chairman of the Working Man's Organization in NYC and organizer of the rally, stated that the purpose of the meeting was to harmonize the differences between the strikers and the railroad companies, and to urge the citizen soldiery to refrain from acting against the strikers. Although the rally did not get out of hand, New York City police and National Guardsmen eventually charged the crowd with billy clubs, later claiming that the rally was not being held in a peaceful manner. In the wake of this "riot," the City, in conjunction with the War Department, established an official city armory program led by the 7th Regiment.[80]

Police Riot, 1988

The Tompkins Square Park Police Riot was a defining moment for the neighborhood. In the late hours of August 6 into the morning hours of August 7, 1988 a riot broke out in Alphabet City's Tompkins Square Park. Groups of "drug pushers, homeless people and young people known as 'skinheads'" had largely taken over the East Village park, but the neighborhood was divided about what, if anything, should be done about it.[81] The local governing body, Manhattan Community Board 3, adopted a 1 am curfew for the previously 24-hour park, in an attempt to bring it under control.[82] On July 31, a rally against the curfew resulted in several clashes between protesters and police.[83]

East River Park

Main article: East River Park

The park is 57 acres (230,000 m2) and runs between the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and the East River from Montgomery Street to East 12th Street.[84] It was designed in the 1930s by Robert Moses, who wanted to ensure there was parkland on the Lower East Side.[84] In 2010, construction was completed on the East River Promenade, which now runs from East 12th Street to Grand Street and continues to be expanded south.[85]

Community gardens

There are reportedly over 640 community gardens in New York City—gardens run by local collectives within the neighborhood who are responsible for the gardens' upkeep—and an estimated 10 percent of those are located on the Lower East Side and East Village alone.[86]

Open Road Park

A former cemetery and bus depot, Open Road Park is a garden and a playground occupying the width of a city block.

Tower of Toys on Avenue B

The Avenue B and 6th Street Community Garden is one of the neighborhood's more notable for a now-removed outdoor sculpture, the Tower of Toys, designed by artist and long-time garden gate-keeper Eddie Boros. Boros died April 27, 2007.[87] The Tower was controversial in the neighborhood; some viewed it as a masterpiece, others as an eyesore.[87][88] It was a makeshift structure, 65 feet high, assembled of wooden planks. The "toys" suspended from it were an amalgamation of fanciful objects found on the street (Boros was a strong voice for reusing and recycling). The fantastical, childlike feeling of this installation was fitting, considering that the garden boasts a children's adventure playground and garden.[89] The tower appeared in the opening credits for the television show NYPD Blue and also appears in the musical Rent.[87] In May 2008, it was dismantled. According to NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, the tower was rotting and thus a safety hazard.[90] Its removal was seen by some as a symbol of the neighborhood's fading past.[90]

Toyota Children's Learning Garden

Located at 603 East 11th Street, the Toyota Children's Learning Garden is not technically a community garden, but it also fails to fit in the park category. Designed by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, the garden opened in May 2008 as part of the New York Restoration Project and is designed to teach children about plants.[91]

La Plaza Cultural

Main article: La Plaza Cultural

La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez (La Plaza Cultural) is a community garden, open-air theater and green space in the East Village

Marble cemeteries

A production of John Reed's All the World's a Grave in the New York Marble Cemetery, which does not contain headstones

The New York City Marble Cemetery, located on 2nd Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue, is the second oldest nonsectarian cemetery in New York City. The cemetery opened in 1831. U.S. President James Monroe was interred there.[92] Others interred there include Stephen Allen, mayor (1821–1824); James Lenox, whose personal library became part of the New York Public Library; Isaac Varian, mayor (1839–1841); Marinus Willet, Revolutionary War hero; and Preserved Fish, a well-known merchant.[92]

Nearby, on Second Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets, is the oldest public cemetery in New York City not affiliated with any religion, the similarly named New York Marble Cemetery.[93] It is open the fourth Sunday of every month.[94]


Ethnicity and religion

According to 2000 census figures provided by the New York City Department of City Planning, which includes the Lower East Side in its calculation, the neighborhood was 35% Asian, 28% non-Hispanic white, 27% Hispanic and 7% black.[95]

On October 9, 1966, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, held the first recorded outdoor chanting session of the Hare Krishna mantra outside of the Indian subcontinent at Tompkins Square Park.[96] This is considered the founding of the Hare Krishna religion in the United States, and the large tree close to the center of the Park is demarcated as a special religious site for Krishna adherents.[96] The late poet Allen Ginsberg, who lived and died in the East Village, attended the ceremony.

Several Roman Catholic churches in the East Village have fallen victim to financial hardship in the last decade. Unable or unwilling to maintain them, the Roman Catholic Church has shuttered St. Mary's Help of Christians on East 12th Street, as well as St. Ann's. There has recently been much controversy over St. Brigid's, the historic parish on Tompkins Square Park. One of the mainstays that remains active is St. Stanislaus, just steps from Tompkins Square Park.

Cultural institutions

The Nuyorican Poets Café has been located off Avenue C and East 3rd Street since its founding in 1973

Preservation institution:




Music venues:

  • Bowery Ballroom concerts and shows
  • Mercury Lounge live music
  • SideWalk Cafe performance and live music
  • The Stone experimental music

Poetry venues:

Theaters and performance spaces:

Neighborhood festivals

Sherry Vine and Joey Arias during the 2009 HOWL! Festival


On subway, the nearest stations are Second Avenue (F train), Astor Place (4 6 <6> trains), Eighth Street – New York University (N Q R W trains), and First Avenue (L train). On bus, the nearest buses are M1, M2, M3, M8, M9, M14A, M14D, M15, M15 SBS, M21, M101, M102, M103.


Local blogs

  • East Village Breaking News
  • East Village Today

Local news

Movie theaters

  • Anthology Film Archives
  • City Cinema Village East
  • Landmark's Sunshine Theater
  • Two Boots Pioneer Theater
  • Village East Cinema



Notable residents

Punk rock icon and writer Richard Hell still lives in the same apartment in Alphabet City that he has had since the 1970s
Miss Understood stops a M15 bus in front of the Lucky Cheng's restaurant at 2nd Street on First Avenue.
Lotti Golden, St. Mark's Place, 1969, Newsweek

See also


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