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East Village, Manhattan, 10030


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The East Village is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It lies east of Greenwich Village, south of Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town, and north of the Lower East Side. Within the East Village there are several smaller neighborhoods, including Alphabet City and The Bowery.


The neighborhood was once considered part of the Lower East Side, but in the 1960s it began to develop its own culture and became known as the East Village. Scores of artists and hippies began to move into the area, attracted by the base of Beatniks that had lived there since the 1950s. It has been the site of counterculture, protests and riots. The neighborhood is known as the birthplace and historical home of many artistic movements, including punk rock and the Nuyorican literary movement.


It is still known for a diverse community, vibrant nightlife and artistic sensibility, although in recent decades gentrification has changed the character of the neighborhood.






Today's East Village was originally a farm owned by Dutch Governor Wouter van Twiller. Petrus 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 1800s. 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. The "East Village" was formerly known as Klein Deutschland ("Little Germany, Manhattan"); however, Little Germany dissolved after the SS General Slocum burned into the water in New York's East River on June 15, 1904. From the years roughly between the 1850s and the first decade of the 20th century, the "East Village" hosted the largest urban populations of Germans outside of Vienna and Berlin. It was America's first foreign language neighborhood; hundreds of political, social, sports and recreational clubs were set up during this period, some of these buildings still exist.


What is now the East Village once ended at the East River where Avenue C is now located. A large portion of the neighborhood was formed by landfill, including World War II debris and rubble from London, which was shipped across the Atlantic to provide foundation for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.


Definitions vary, but the boundaries are roughly defined as east of the Bowery from 14th Street down to Houston Street.




Until the mid-1960s, this 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 1960s. 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.'"


Newcomers and real estate brokers popularized the East Village name, and the term was adopted by the popular media by the mid-1960s. In 1966 a psychedelic 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 June 5, 1967 edition.


In 1966 Andy Warhol promoted a series of 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 The Electric Circus opened in the same space with a benefit for the Children's Recreation Foundation (Chairman: Bobby Kennedy). The Grateful Dead, The Chambers Brothers, Sly & the Family Stone, the Allman Brothers 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 a Yiddish Theatre on 2nd Avenue. 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 - and its West Coast counterpart, to establish new British bands like The Who, Pink Floyd, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and Led Zeppelin. It too 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, Madonna, Talking Heads, the Plasmatics, Glenn Danzig, Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys, Anthrax, and The Strokes. From 1983 - 1993, much of the more radical audio work was preserved as part of the Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine recording project, which was based in the nearby Lower East Side.




Over the last 100 years, the East Village/Lower East Side neighborhood has been considered one of the strongest contributors to American arts and culture in New York. During the great wave of immigration (Germans, Ukrainians, Polish) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, countless families found their new homes in this area.


The East Village 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. Mark's 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, Stephen Lack, Greer Lankton, Joseph Nechvatal, Nan Goldin, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Wojnarowicz and Jeff Koons.


The East Village is the setting for Jonathan Larson's musical Rent; set in the early 1990s, the story chronicles a group of friends over a year in their struggles against poverty, drug abuse and AIDS.


The musical Rent chronicled a period in the neighborhood's history that is bygone. It opened at the New York Theater Workshop in February 1996. It described a New York City devastated by the AIDS epidemic, drugs and high crime, and followed several characters in the backdrop of their effort to make livings as artists.




The East Village's performance and art scene has declined since its hey-day of the 1970s and 1980s. One club that had opened to try to resurrect the neighborhood's past artistic prominence was Mo Pitkins' House of Satisfaction, part-owned by Jimmy Fallon of Saturday Night Live. It closed its doors in 2007, and was seen by many as another sign of the continued decline of the East Village performance and art scene, which has mostly moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 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 Avenue A, where downtown acts find space to exhibit their talent, and the poetry clubs.


Punk scene icons stayed 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 and reigns over Manitoba's bar on Avenue B.


The East Village contains several hamlets of vibrant communities within itself.




Alphabet City comprises nearly two-thirds of the East Village. It also once was 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." 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 23rd Street to the north where Avenue C ends. Some famous landmarks include Tompkins Square Park, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the Stuyvesant Town private residential community.




Loisaida is a term derived from the Latino (and especially Nuyorican) pronunciation of "Lower East Side", a neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City. 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.




Eighth Street becomes St. Mark's place east of Third Avenue. It once had the cachet of Sutton Place, known as a secluded rich enclave in Manhattan, but which by the 1850s had become a place for boarding houses and a German immigrant community. It is named after St Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, which was built on Stuyvesant Street but is now on 10th Street. St. Mark's 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 St. Mark's Place, 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).


St. Mark's is along the “Mosaic Trail”, a trail of 80 mosaic-encrusted lamposts 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".




The Bowery, former home to the punk-rock nightclub CBGB, 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.


The Bow’ry, The Bow’ry! They say such things,

Today, the Bowery has become a boulevard of new luxury condominiums. It also is home to the Amato Opera and the Bowery Poetry Club, contributing to the neighborhood's reputation as a place for artistic pursuit. Artists Amiri Baraka and Taylor Mead hold regular readings and performances in the space.


The redevelopment of the avenue from flophouses to luxury condominiums has met with resistance from long-term residents, who agree the neighborhood has improved, but that its unique, gritty character is also disappearing.




Tompkins Square Park is a 10.5 acre (42,000 m²) public park in the Alphabet City section of the East Village neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It is square in shape, and 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.


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. 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. On July 31, a rally against the curfew resulted in several clashes between protesters and police.




The park is 57 acres (230,000 m2) that runs along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive from Montgomery Street to East 12th Street. It was designed in the 1930s by Robert Moses, who wanted to ensure there was parkland on the Lower East Side.


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.


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. The Tower was controversial in the neighborhood; some viewed it as a masterpiece, others as an eyesore. The tower appeared in the opening credits for the television show NYPD Blue and also appears in the musical Rent. In May 2008, it was dismantled. According to NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, the tower was rotting in sections that made it a safety hazard. Its removal was seen as another symbol of the fading past of the neighborhood.


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.




The cemetery is actually two, which sit on 2nd Street between The Bowery and 2nd Avenue. They are open the fourth Sunday of every month. The first and more prominent is the City cemetery, which is second oldest non-sectarian cemetery in New York City. It sits next to the oldest public cemetery in New York City not affiliated with any religion, the "New York Marble Cemetery." The cemetery was opened in 1831 and at one point contained ex-U.S. President James Monroe.




Other than geography, the East Village's most notable commonalities with Greenwich Village are a colorful history, vibrant social and cultural outlets, and street names that often diverge from the norm.


The Bowery is a north-south avenue which also lends its name to the somewhat overlapping neighborhood of the Bowery; St. Mark's Place, a crosstown street well-known for counterculture businesses; and Astor Place/Cooper Square, home of the Public Theater and the Cooper Union. Nearby universities like New York University (NYU), The New School, and The Cooper Union have dormitories in the neighborhood.




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% White, 27% Hispanic and 7% Black.


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. This is considered the founding of the Hare Krishna religion in the United States, and the tree is a special religious site for Krishna adherents. Poet Allen Ginsberg, a long-time East Village resident, attended the ceremony.


The neighborhood's Puerto Rican population is heavily Roman Catholic. Recently redevelopment spurred by both development of the neighborhood and New York University's expansion have caused several churches to be closed, including St. Mary's Help of Christians on East 10th Street, and St. Ann's. There has recently been much controversy over St. Brigid's, the historical parish on Tompkins Square Park.


Since the 1890s there has been a large Ukrainian 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 The Ukrainian Museum; the Shevchenko Scientific Society; and the Ukrainian Cultural Center are evidence of the impact of this culture on the area.


Although there is widespread appreciation for New York University and what it offers the city, the residents of the East Village have a love-hate relationship with its dominant resident.


St. Ann's Church, a rusticated-stone structure with a Romanesque tower that dated to 1847 was destroyed by the University to make way for a monolithic 26-story, 700 bed dormitory for students. Amongst brownstones and historic buildings, the school has built many of these large dorms and this one in particular is now the tallest structure in the area. "There are larger changes going on here," said Lynne Brown, vice president of university relations and public affairs. "I fear this tendency to blame any trend residents don't like happening at the doorstep of NYU," said Brown, mentioning that the university has been one of the longest inhabitants of the East Village. But Nancy Cosie, a 20 year resident and former St. Ann's parishioner, does not buy that argument. "Enough is enough," Cosie exclaimed to The Village Voice, "This is not a campus. This is a neighborhood, and this is my home." NYU's destruction or purchasing of many historic buildings (such as the Peter Cooper post office) have made it symbolic of change that many long-time residents fear is destroying what made the neighborhood interesting and attractive. "I live on Avenue B and 9th Street," an NYU student said. "I know I'm part of the problem - gentrification that is. But where am I supposed to live?"


NYU has often been at odds with residents of both the East and West Villages, with legendary urban preservationist Jane Jacobs battling the school in the 1960s. "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.













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