It was Different from the Start, a crazy pattern of streets that broke from the city’s grid plan, reflecting the boundaries of a rural village. As a bohemian haven, the leafy lanes of the Village have been home to artists and writers. Jazz musicians, beat poets, and performers like the young Bob Dylan found their places here. Later it became popular with gays, and today cafés and funky shops attract young people from all over the city. The village really comes to life at night, when cafés, theaters, and clubs beckon at every turn.

The Halloween Parade

Anything goes in this wildly gaudy annual parade of cross-dressers and amazing costumes. It draws 25,000 marchers and reportedly two million spectators. The parade route goes up 6th Avenue, from the Village to 23rd Street, starting at 7pm.


  1. Washington Square Park

    In 1826, a marshy area was filled to form this popular park. The restored marble arch by Stanford White went up in 1892, replacing a wooden version that marked the centenary of George Washington’s inauguration. Mothers with strollers, chess players, and young lovers now occupy benches where drug dealers once reigned. The fountain in the center is where Bob Dylan sang his first folk songs.

    • 5th Ave, between Waverly Pl & 4th St

    Washington Square Park

    Street performers in Washington Square Park
  2. MacDougal Alley

    These 19th-century stables for the fine homes on Washington Square North were converted into studios by artists early in the 20th century, causing the street to be known as “Art Alley de Luxe.” Among the residents were painter Guy Pene du Bois and sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who established the first Whitney Museum in 1914 at 8 West 8th Street, adjoining her studio.

    • East of MacDougal St, between 8th St & Waverly Pl

    MacDougal Street
  3. Washington Mews

    Another group of stables turned into houses around 1900, the Mews attracted both writers and artists. No. 14A housed, at various times, author John Dos Passos and artists Edward Hopper, William Glackens, and Rockwell Kent. Writer Sherwood Anderson often stayed at No. 54 with his friend and patron, Mary Emmett. In contrast to the modern buildings in much of Manhattan, this type of quaint enclave is the reason many find the Village so appealing.

    • University Place to 5th Ave

  4. Grove Court

    This group of six townhouses in a bend in the street was developed by grocer Samuel Cocks, who thought that having residents nearby would help his business at No. 18. But while such private courts are prized today, they were not considered respectable in the 1850s, and the disreputable types who moved in earned it the nickname “Mixed Ale Alley.” O. Henry used the block as the setting for The Last Leaf.

    • Grove St near Bedford St

    Grove Court
  5. Jefferson Market Courthouse

    The site was a market in 1833, named after the former president, Thomas Jefferson. The fire lookout tower had a giant bell that alerted volunteer firefighters. When the courthouse was built in 1877, the bell was installed in its clock tower. The building became a treasured Village landmark, and, after the market had moved and court sessions were discontinued, it was eventually saved from demolition after a spirited local campaign and converted into a branch of the New York Public Library in the 1950s.

    • 425 6th Ave, between 9th & 10th Sts

    • Open noon–8pm Mon, Wed, 10am–6pm Tue, Thu, 10am–5pm Fri, Sat

    • Free

    Jefferson Market Courthouse
  6. Cherry Lane Theatre

    In 1924, a warehouse was converted into one of the first Off-Broadway theaters and showcased plays by the likes of Edward Albee, Eugene Ionesco, David Mamet, and Harold Pinter. Today, the “Cherry Lane Alternative” uses established playwrights to mentor talented newcomers.

    Cherry Lane Theatre
  7. Bleecker Street

    The present line-up of ordinary shops and restaurants belies the history of this street. James Fenimore Cooper lived at No. 145 in 1833, Theodore Dreiser stayed at No. 160 when he came to New York in 1895, and James Agee lived at No. 172 from 1941 to 1951. The café at No. 189, the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal, was the San Remo bar, the favorite gathering place for William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Jack Kerouac, leading lights of the beat generation.

    • Between 6th Ave & West Broadway

    Bar on Bleecker Street
  8. New York University

    Founded in 1831, N.Y.U. enlarged the scope of early 19th-century study from its previous concentration on Greek and Latin to contemporary subjects: a “rational and practical education” for those aspiring to careers in business, industry, science, and the arts, as well as in law, medicine, and the ministry. It has grown into the largest private university in America and now occupies many blocks around Washington Square.

    • Washington Square

  9. Judson Memorial Church

    An elegant work in Romanesque style by Stanford White, with stained glass by John La Farge, the church was built in 1888–93 as a memorial to Adoniram Judson, the first American Baptist missionary in Asia. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. contributed to the construction. White’s use of mottled yellow brick and white terracotta trim introduced light coloration into American church architecture.

    • 55 Washington Square South

    • Open for services 11am Sun

    • Free

    Judson Memorial Church
  10. 75 Bedford Street

    New York’s narrowest home, just 9.5 ft (3 m) wide, was built in 1873 in a passageway in the Village. Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay lived here, as did actors John Barrymore and, later, Cary Grant. No. 77 is the oldest house in the Village, dating from around 1799, and at No. 103 is “Twin Peaks,” an 1830 structure remodeled in 1925 by Clifford Reed Daily to house artists and writers, who would presumably be inspired by the architecture.

    • Between Morton & Barrow Sts

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