One of New York’s best contemporary art museums
Images of the East Village when it was a countercultural epicenter in the 1960s and ’70s cast a long shadow. The neighborhood today, however, is far from the gritty one seen on screen in Taxi Driver. Even the once-infamous Avenues A, B, C, and D — the far eastern edge of the East Village — are now dotted with storefront galleries and restaurants serving artisanal cuisine. Still, some elements of the past live on in the form of the area’s decidedly young atmosphere and nightlife that extends into the early-morning hours. Wander the blocks around Tompkins Square and you’ll find more independent boutiques than flagships from international brands. A number of institutions, including the Anthology Film Archives, the New York Theatre Workshop, and the New Museum, help the East Village maintain its status as a vital center of the city’s cultural life.
When Whole Foods opened just to the south of the East Village and Trader Joe’s along its northern edge, some feared the demise of the area’s eclectic mix of restaurants and stores. As it turned out, they didn’t alter the neighborhood and instead joined the designer boutiques, small galleries, and trendy cocktail lounges and dive bars. Denizens and visitors continue to dine at the Indian restaurants on Sixth Street, the Japanese ones on Ninth, and others helmed by young chefs serving almost every cuisine imaginable. St. Mark’s Place still draws college students and recent grads. Cultural highlights include leading off-Broadway theater companies and the Cooper Union, which has hosted cultural and political events for over a century. One of New York’s best contemporary art museums, the New Museum, sits on the Bowery, while the Brant Foundation, an art space located in a former ConEd substation, opened in 2019 on Sixth Street.