Nestled between Midtown and the Financial district, lies one of the best parts of New York: the West, Greenwich and East Village, stretching from the Hudson to the East River. Low and old buildings with tree lined streets have attracted an impressive array of bars, cafes and European boutiques as well as all sorts of galleries, record shops and varied -purpose ventures. It is one of the rare places where some streets are still covered with cobble stones, and where, for just a moment, you would forget you’re in America.
The real, one and only would of course be Greenwich – tiny suburb of historical New York and not part of it before the end 19th century. As for the West Village, real estate agents have probably invented the concept, to name the area most spared of the shopping and restaurant frenzy currently raving in Greenwich. And I would add to the Village list the East one: despite the rough separation by the Broadway beat, it is also strangely peaceful, low lying for the best part of it, easy-going and still a tiny bit subversive.
So there is this belt, breathing between the high-rise battle of Mid- and Downtown, where every self-respecting visitor should spend much more time than with the over-marketed neighbors in the north of the city.
On the western tip, the tranquil neighborhood just below 14th street boasts with superb but sober houses, in red brick and beautiful doors. The cobblestoned streets offer an eerie view to the Hudson river. There is no other reason to come here: apart the houses, there is nearly nothing. But the streets offer this serene, placid feeling, away from all the madness of the city. Maybe the best spot to wander and to think, undisturbed by no one.
Despite this bourgeois feel, the Village has been home to the most brilliant and subversive artistic movement in the last century, the Beat Generation. Since way before the 1950s, weird artists already transformed farms into theaters, like the Cherry Lane, on the most amazing Commerce street. This tiny strip in the heart of the west Greenwich has no shops on it, and is actually a semi circle. Probably the best street in New York.
Going towards the heart of Greenwich, the most European savors spring to life on shop-laden rows. Whatever happens in the international relations scene, love or hate, Europe is the thing, the true source of gourmet-fashion-beauty pinnacle.
The village feel is amazing. On some roads, no sight whatsoever can be found of the New York that we know.
But the peaceful sights are regrettably interrupted by the long avenue strips crossing from south to north all areas of the city. You cannot remain lost for a long time; walking on any street will eventually bring you on one of them, bustling roads bringing a great rush of life into the observer, and new energy to carry on the city adventure.