The Village

For six years (from July 2007 through August 2013), the home base for Walking Off the Big Apple was Greenwich Village, so many posts on this website highlight the cultural history and European-like streets of this neighborhood.

The Village begins south of 14th Street and stretches from Broadway on the east all the way west to the Hudson River. The southern boundary is conventionally Houston Street, although blocks of Sullivan, Thompson, and MacDougal Streets south of Houston (SoHo) have more in common with the Village than with SoHo.

We often distinguish Greenwich Village from the East Village, the area off to the east that has a different sort of character. Some people talk about the West Village. This distinction, preferred by people with an attitude, refers to the more quaint and wealthier parts of the neighborhood west of 6th or even 7th Avenue.

Greenwich Village is often symbolized in these pages through its most famous park - Washington Square Park. Passing through the park's Washington Square Arch, the southern terminus of Fifth Avenue, represents the passageway into the liberating mindset of the neighborhood. The park itself is in the final stages of a controversial multi-year renovation (we don't take things lightly down here), one that has seemed like an eternity. This website, around since July 2007, documented the park before the renovations. The park looks photogenic in all the seasons.

Read the post, 25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village, for general guidance about the neighborhood.

For a portrait of Greenwich Village in 1912, read One Hundred Years Ago in Bohemia: Greenwich Village 1912.

Suggested self-guided walks:

West 10th Street, From Fifth Avenue to Waverly Place (considered one of the most beautiful blocks in the city)

• Hawks and Architecture: A Red-tailed Hawk Guide to Washington Square Let three fledgling hawks show you around the are.

• University Place is nice, stretching from Washington Square Park to Union Square. (Here's a slideshow from 2008 that features a few businesses that no longer exist.)

• Definitely go to St. Luke's Place where an unusual assortment of famous (and some fictional) people lived.

St. Luke's Place

• Get to know the buildings of Harvey Wiley Corbett - the East 8th Street Apartments, and the Village skyscraper - One Fifth Avenue.

• Edgard Varèse (1883-1965) lived here. He's a French-born modern composer some people know.

• Everyone knows the paintings of Edward Hopper. A favorite pastime is looking for the Hopper light on the side of Village buildings. Hopper lived on Washington Park North from 1913 until the day he died in 1967. This was his neighborhood.

home and studio of Edward Hopper, 3 Washington Square North

Bob Dylan fans need to find Jones Street.

Minetta Street follows an old stream, Minetta Brook.

• A favorite walk in every season is from Washington Square Park to the Hudson River - in spring or even in winter. One variation would be to follow the Hudson River School painters who worked in the Village.

Bleecker Street could easily serve as the Village's main thoroughfare.

• The Village's Italian heritage is vitally important for the neighborhood's character, especially the South Village.

• Many poets found in high school and college readers lived in the Village at one time - Edwin Arlington Robinson, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Hart Crane, e.e. cummings, Vachel Lindsay, Delmore Schwartz, and many others. The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas drank himself to death at the White Horse Tavern. The Village inspires poetry.

springtime in the Village

• The Village can be loud at night so look for quiet spaces to recover in the morning. One good spot is James J. Walker Park.

• Another important thoroughfare is Hudson Street, and a wonderful self-guided walk is to walk the whole thing.

• Learn the distinction between Washington Mews and MacDougal Alley.

Grove Street is a great literary street.

A Scene from Lower Fifth Avenue
Lower Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village

 • Walking Lower Fifth Avenue can seem like a walk back into a previous century, especially if you see it in black and white.

• Greenwich Village is a tough neighborhood and can easily weather a tropical storm or hurricane (except for the lower parts on the river).

Walk from the Arch to W. 10th to see the holiday lights, a stroll far away from the usual holiday crowds.

• Washington Square Park still seems like one of the most appropriate places in New York to raise hell.

In September of 2013, Walking Off the Big Apple moved to Upper Manhattan. Look for several posts about Washington Heights and Inwood.

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