SVA Guide to NYC 2017: West Village
November 8, 2017
With its cobbled streets, leafy sidewalks, and certifiably cool history it's impossible not to be charmed by the West Village. It's also hard not to get lost amongst said charming streets when they start to twist and Manhattan's grid breaks down. Located below 14th Street between the West Side Highway and Greenwich Village at West 4th Street, embrace the wandering nature of the West Village and explore its bohemian, historically preserved past and lively present.
Here are a few of the many things to see, do and taste in the neighborhood, as recommended by members of the SVA community.
10 Things to Do in the West Village:
Check out American art at The Whitney Museum – 99 Gansevoort Street (at 10th Avenue)
The Whitney Museum has been dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting American art since its founding in 1930, with a focus on presenting work by living American artists. Currently on view are solo exhibitions by Jimmie Durham and Toyin Ojih Odutola, as well as "An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940 – 2017," which features An Ecstatic Experience (2015), an experimental film by SVA alumnus Ja'Tovia Gary (MFA 2014 Social Documentary Film).
Buy books at Three Lives & Company – 154 West 10th Street (on the corner of Waverley Place)
Around since 1968, Three Lives is one of the last remaining independent bookstores in the city. Drop in, browse the well-stocked shelves or ask the friendly staff for a recommendation.
Kick back in iconic Washington Square Park
Site of the eponymous marble arch and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory landmark, the lush park is also home to countless performers, chess players, and NYU students. A great place to "study, tan, socialize," says BFA Advertising student Jack Welles. For something quieter, try Abingdon Square just below 12th Street.
This corner of the city boasts two premier film venues, showing foreign, independent and classic titles (including weekend midnight movies at IFC). IFC has a "great indie movie selection and amazing popcorn," says Eduardo Solana (BFA 2017 Fine Arts).
The Vanguard, open at its current location since 1935, is a venerable standard bearer—having hosted Miles Davis, John Coltrane and countless other legends—while Fat Cat offers ping-pong, pool and other programming alongside late-night jam sessions.
Laugh your head off at the Comedy Cellar – 117 Macdougal Street
Come to this classic brick wall stand-up joint for comedy's current and rising stars, and the occasional surprise set by marquee names (Aziz Ansari, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Colin Quinn).
Celebrate LGBTQ and civil rights history at the Stonewall Inn – 53 Christopher Street
Site of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, the Stonewall Inn was the first New York City landmark to be recognized by the city's Preservation Commission on the basis of its status in LGBTQ history. While you're there, check out Mark Segall's public sculpture, Gay Liberation, just across the way at Christopher Park.
Visit poet Edna St. Vincent Millay's former home – 75 1/2 Bedford Street
Built in 1873, this 9 1/2 foot-wide structure is one of the city's narrowest houses. It was also once home to anthropologist Margaret Mead and cartoonist William Steig, and hosted John Barrymore and Cary Grant when it was a boarding house for the actors of the nearby Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street).
Shop for sleek stationary and travel guides at Monocle – 535 Hudson Street
The Monocle brand began with Monocle magazine in 2007 and it has since launched five retail stores (the New York location being its fifth) from which to showcase its sophisticated sensibility and sell chic and practical products.
Stroll down literally any old street.
Emphasis on old. Areas like Weehawken Street, Grove Street and the majority of Greenwich Village (formed after the American Revolution) have been designated historic districts, helping retain the quiet, low-scale nature of the neighborhood. Fall is a fantastic time to meander through an older New York City.
Five Local Eats:
Corner Bistro – 331 West 4th Street (on the corner of Jane Street)
Low on frills but rich in ambiance, this Village classic is known for its straightforward burgers (and a recently introduced vegetarian version). Get in line, grab a drink and prepare to be fully sated.
Buvette – 42 Grove Street
A little—really little—slice of Paris in the West Village, Buvette does bistro-decadent small plates all day.
Papaya Dog – 333 Sixth Avenue (at West 4th Street)
Super-cheap hot dogs and soft drinks are available at all hours at this no-frills vendor.
Vol de Nuit – 148 West 4th Street
Frites, mussels and a patio are the main attractions of this small brick-laid bar.
Porto Rico Importing Co. – 201 Bleecker Street
With a wide selection of coffees and teas to take home or enjoy out on Bleecker Street, this family-owned company has been perking up Villagers since 1907.