The East Village is on Lower Manhattan's East Side and is famed for its ultra-chic nightlife with area bars, cocktail lounges, music venues, and hip restaurants. During the day, you'll find a laid-back, bohemian crowd with boutique shops, casual cafés and diners, vintage clothing stores, tattoo parlours, and culture shops. It's a former punk scene hub but today is an epicentre of souvenir shops and trendy takeaway food joints. 

This is one of Manhattan's most storied areas and has managed to repeatedly reinvent itself over the years to match the needs of whatever the adventurous crowd needs at the moment. This spirit of adventure is what defines the Village and keeps people coming back for more year after year. If you're looking to party with the hip and bohemian set on the East Coast, the East Village is the place to be.

East Village in New York - one of the highlights of 12 Most Popular Neighbourhoods in New York and 8 Best Places to Go Shopping in New York (Read all about New York here)

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Highlights of the East Village

The East Village is a multicultural haven with tonnes of attractions and activities from the trendiest nightclubs to great street food, bohemian art galleries, and hip small shops. The bars, shops, and restaurants of St. Mark's Place combine with its historic vibe as a music and art hub to draw many visitors. Astor Place is the heart of art and architecture schools and offices, and is the historic location of Lincoln's Cooper Union Address from 1860. 

Bars, clubs, and independent shops like Proletariat, McSorley's Old Ale House, and the Strand Book Store are all iconic locations that juxtapose insider hip clubs next to old-fashioned pubs (McSorley's is the oldest pub in the city) with iconic offerings (Strand is one of the largest indie bookshops in the world). For a quiet and artsy experience, head here during the day. For the vibrant and lively, show up later for the nightlife. 

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History of the East Village

The East Village is marked by multicultural influences and is famous as the birthplace of the US punk rock scene. It's been a music destination since the 1960s and an art destination since the early 1980s, which helped to launch artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. It originally was an upscale area in the Eastside, but by the mid-19th century it had become a working-class immigrant area. 

It wasn't until the mid-20th century that the Village gained its own area and cultural identity, and by the 1960s it was a counterculture centre. Even when the city suffered a period of decline in the '80s, the music and art scenes here continued to thrive, from punk and hard rock clubs to LGBT bars and art galleries. Through many ups and downs, hardship, and gentrification, it's still amongst the most iconic areas in the city. 

Good to know about the East Village

The East Village has a great deal of history underneath its gritty, working-class, artistic exterior. Iconic films like "Taxi Driver" and "The Godfather Part II" were filmed here. It has also been the performance home of many jazz and blues musicians who fit stealthily into the punk and rock scene, such as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Billie Holliday. 

You'll find a surprising spiritual scene here as well, with "tenement synagogues" tucked between houses and hidden, historic churches representing dozens of ethnic identities. As an LGBT hub, it's also the roots of the drag subculture. It is still, however, a rough-and-tumble area, and when you're partying here, it's a good idea to stick to groups and keep your wits about you. Don't expect a quiet residential area here. Especially at night, the streets are crowded with nightlife and the pulse-pounding beats of the bars and clubs.

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East Village in New York