The arch at Washington Square in the heart of the Village is one of New York’s iconic scenes. Visit on a warm spring day and you’ll find busking street performers and political activists gathering under it. Greenwich Village’s bohemian roots still influence the neighborhood as one of city’s simultaneously most active and relaxed neighborhoods.
Greenwich Village began as farmland and evolved to the home of the city’s wealthy class in the 19th century. In the early 19th century, a potter’s field called Washington Square was developed into a leafy green park, while developers created handsome row-houses along its edges which remain some of the finest in the city. New York University would eventually grow from erecting its first building here, to dominating the area. In the 20th century, Greenwich Village became the home of intellectuals, writers, radicals, artists, and creative cognoscenti. The area retains that identity, and the coffeehouses, bookstores, Art-house cinemas, jazz clubs, and Off-Broadway theatre are comforting to lovers of NYC counter-culture.
It became famous for Beat culture in the 1950s and 1960s; and evolved into a bohemian enclave with the likes of writers Kerouac and Ginsberg on the scene, along with the rest of the city’s creative cognoscenti. Today, a mix of residents are drawn by its lively energy and commercial activity around Union Square and on Broadway and Sixth Avenue. It contains several Landmarked Historic Districts. NYU is housed in a several buildings near Washington Square, along with the New School, and Parsons School of Design they shape the young and academic character of the area. Inexpensive restaurants stand side-by-side with some of the city’s finest. NYC’s “village” neighborhoods stretch across Manhattan from Houston Street north to 14th Street. The borders of central Greenwich Village are roughly Third and Sixth Avenues. The larger Greenwich Village, includes the West Village, which is often thought of as possessing a separate and distinct character West of Seventh Avenue.