Manhattan’s West Village is a neighbourhood comprised of tree-lined cobblestoned streets with brownstones, trendy boutiques and cozy restaurants. Delve a little deeper as this intimate neighbourhood below 14th Street is also known as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, an eclectic dining scene, nightlife and is also home to the narrowest house in NYC.
Here are some tips on how to live like a local in the West Village:
As the birthplace of the gay liberation movement, Stonewall Inn—a National Historic Landmark—is a must see; the gay tavern/bar is located in the heart of the West Village on Christopher Street, just outside the Christopher Street subway station of the 1 Line. The bar was raided by police on June 28, 1969, which sparked the beginning of the gay rights movement. In June 2015, Stonewall received official landmark status from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission because of its unique connection to LGBT history.
Nearby Christopher Park features real-life sculptures of gay couples, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion.
Farther north on a street dotted with brownstones is The LGBT Community Center offering health and wellness programs, arts (don’t miss the Keith Haring mural), entertainment, performances and cultural events. A welcome center is open to residents and visitors, and Think Coffee is its resident coffee shop.
Christopher Park, West Village, Manhattan
Walking, Running and Biking:
The West Village neighbourhood is perfect as a backdrop to walk and explore its winding, tree-lined streets—the area between Greenwich Avenue and Bleecker Street, from Christopher Street to Bank Street, offer a particularly stunning glimpse into the unique beauty of this iconic neighbourhood.
Among beautiful brownstones, visitors can find the narrowest house in NYC at 75½ Bedford St., just south of Commerce Street, as well as the Friends Apartment Building (90 Bedford St.), which includes the Little Owl restaurant on the ground floor. Don’t forget to stop in The Gardens at St. Luke in the Fields, a “hidden gem” park that guarantees a serene and reflective experience in the middle of an otherwise bustling neighbourhood.
For those seeking an invigorating run or bike ride, try Hudson River Park on the western edge of the West Village, along the Hudson River. In the warmer months, Pier 45 at Christopher Street becomes an urban “beach” experience with wide open green space for lounging under the sun (minus the sand and swimming). Don’t forget to take in the stunning views of the City and its diverse mix of gorgeous architecture.
The West Village offers plenty of attractive shopping options. From the trendy boutiques along Bleecker Street and Christopher Street—James Perse, Cynthia Rowley, Brunello Cucinelli and Rag & Bone, to name a few—to hidden treasures like the City’s only Monocle Shop on Hudson Street, Three Lives & Company (books) on West 10th and Greenwich Letterpress (for stationery aficionados) and Doodle Doo’s (kids’ toys and salon in one) on Christopher Street, the downtown neighbourhood complements the department store shopping experience farther uptown.
When you think of the perfect New York City date, there can’t be a more appealing backdrop than the West Village. From cozy restaurants like Buvette to hidden options like the speakeasy-style Hudson Clearwater and Decoy (beneath dim sum favoriteRedFarm) to popular dining establishments like Keith McNally’s Morandi and Ristorante Rafele (both Italian) and April Bloomfield’s Spotted Pig, the neighbourhood has no shortage of delicious and memorable dining experiences. For a more casual setting and especially delicious burgers, try either Westville or Corner Bistro. Coming soon is the walk-in Commerce Sweet Shop on Bedford Street from famed chef Harold Moore. Cheese lovers should hit Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker Street. For a delicious dessert, don’t overlook Big Gay Ice Cream, located at the corner of Grove Street at Seventh Avenue South; theMagnolia Bakery, where Carrie Bradshaw once cooled her famous heels on Sex and the City, at Bleecker Street and West 11th Street; or for chocoholics, Li-Lac Chocolates, featuring handmade confections, located at Eighth Avenue and Jane Street. Don’t forget the out-of-this-world almond croissant, brioche or individualised quiche from one of the best bakeries in New York City,Patisserie Claude, along West 4th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Excellent coffee experiences can be had at The Elk, Joe or Jack’s Stir Brew.
The Little Owl, West Village, Manhattan
Entertainment & Nightlife:
For jazz lovers, head to the very intimate Smalls Jazz Club or try the Village Vanguard, sometimes called the “Carnegie Hall of Jazz.”
Off-Broadway theater lovers can take in great options at either the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street; the Cherry Lane Theatre on Commerce Street (currently playing Colin Quinn The New York Story, directed by Jerry Seinfeld), or the Bank Street Theater, home to the Labyrinth Theater Company, on Bank Street.
Gay bars abound in the West Village including the longest-running neighbourhood gay bar Julius’, Pieces (karaoke fans, step up!), The Duplex, The Monster, Stonewall Inn (play pool or see a drag show) or piano bar Marie’s Crisis (show tunes, anyone?). The longest-running lesbian bar in the country is here, Henrietta Hudson, or try The Cubbyhole further north.
For those seeking a great speakeasy for dinner or drinks, go to the retro-looking, Prohibition-style bar Employees Only, which is masked by psychic readings in its entry foyer, on Hudson Street.
“The West Village is one of the City’s most beloved neighbourhoods, and we invite visitors to discover this beautiful and authentically NYC enclave,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s President and CEO. “As the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, the West Village also has a fascinating storied history.”
To coincide with the West Village spotlight, NYC & Company is debuting a new short documentary film highlighting the neighbourhood’s draw, particularly its thriving LGBT history. Details on more neighbourhood highlights can be found atnycgo.com/insiderguides.