Originally part of the Lower East Side, the area now called the East Village broke off in the 1960s, as artists, musicians and hippies began moving into the neighborhood, creating a culture that was separate and distinct from what was then a largely working-class neighborhood.
Bounded by Third Avenue, the East River, 14th Street and Houston Street, the East Village is known for its cutting-edge music and arts scene — the birthplace and home of punk rock and an important breeding ground for influential post-modern artists such as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons.
Throughout much of its history, the East Village was primarily an immigrant community, home to large populations of Germans, followed by Poles and Ukrainians. The area between 5th and 10th streets and Third Avenue and Avenue A still retains much of its ethnic flavor, with the continuing presence of Ukrainian restaurants, butcher shops, churches and cultural institutions.
With the influx of artists and musicians, the East Village became fertile territory for new artistic genres. The famed CBGB, which has since been replaced by a high-end clothing store, gave birth to the punk movement, launching the careers of such famed musicians as the Ramones, Misfits, the B-52’s, Blondie, Joan Jett and Talking Heads. East Village clubs and art galleries also presented innovative experimental theater and post-modern art.
As with other neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, the East Village’s growing reputation as an artistic enclave helped draw more affluent residents to the area, transforming the neighborhood into a mainstream, high-end community — though the East Village is still more affordable than neighboring Greenwich Village.
Today, the East Village is a popular destination for students, many of whom attend New York University, which has many dormitories located in the area, or the highly selective Cooper Union, located in the East Village’s Cooper Square.
Still a diverse community, the East Village is a larger subset of several distinct enclaves, including Alphabet City, a Mecca for downtown cool that encompasses Avenues A, B, C and D, east of First Avenue; and Loisada, the Spanish pronunciation of Lower East Side, concentrated along Avenue C.
Popular East Village thoroughfares include St. Marks Place, lined with bars and fashion boutiques; Sixth Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, a restaurant row for Indian cuisine; and the Bowery, once known for its homeless shelters but now synonymous with high-end condominiums, as well as the visually striking New Museum of Contemporary Art.