Greenwich Village, usually just called ‘The Village’, is nestled between Chelsea and SoHo. Despite being in between these very popular neighbourhoods it holds its own rather well because it too has its own personality. An area rich in music, laughs, and good eats; it’s also known mostly as a residential area for the wealthy and the well-known. I also hear that they throw a pretty mean Halloween Parade over here!
While Greenwich Village is known as one of the most expensive place to live in in the US, the quaint neighbourhood has attracted quite a handful of famous people. I heard that one of the Olsens, as well as Sarah Jessica Parker and her family, live in this area. The really wealthy also live in closed-off areas for maximum privacy.
The fact is it’s a lovely neighbourhood that’s not as crowded as the rest of Manhattan, which probably adds to its charm. Plus, you’ve got the NYU over here.
Walking here was a very nice experience (but I bet biking would be more so!) since as I mentioned it’s not crowded. Despite the fact that it’s home to off-Broadway theatre, popular restaurants, plus a handful of comedy bars and jazz clubs that now-famous names used to perform in, it’s not as insane as Times Square.
Below is the door that marks the famous ‘Cafe Wha?’ where the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Allen, and Bill Cosby got to practice their craft before they became super famous. Mister Hendrix himself greets you at the entrance.
In my mind there are lots of things I want to do in Greenwich Village the next time I return. Mostly it has to do with eating pizza at Artichoke, but maybe an evening at the Comedy Cellar wouldn’t be so bad either. Macdougal Street alone offers a ton of things to see (and eat) already!
Fellow fans of ‘FRIENDS’ might also recognize this Grove Street apartment building, although sad to say Central Perk does not exist. The series was filmed in LA anyway. 😀 But if you want to see it for yourself, the apartment stands at 90 Bedford Street, at the corner of Grove Street. You can also find Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment, as well as the Huxtable House, in this neighbourhood.
Walking along, we came across a little market area which really reminded me of the weekend markets we have in Makati, on the areas where many of the upper class live as well.
Greenwich Village was the center of the gay rights movement in the 1970’s, and no place knows that as well as the Stonewall Inn. This gay bar– already declared as a US National Historic Landmark– was the site of the Stonewall Riot in 1969, which marked the beginning of the fightback of the LGBT community against discrimination and unfair treatment.
The Stonewall Riot inspired the people in America, as well as those in Canada, Australia, and Wester Europe, to stand up for gay rights. To this day, people gather at the Stonewall Inn during Pride March to celebrate the role it played in encouraging widespread love and acceptance towards the LGBT community.
Moving on to the next must-see location at Greenwich Village, we went to check out Washington Square Park. I must say, navigating the streets over here can be confusing because it’s not arranged in a numbered grid pattern like the rest of Manhattan. The streets have names and they kind of intersect each other in random ways. You really need Google Maps in your pocket around this area.
Washington Square Park is the most important landmark here in Greenwich Village, and in fact The Village used to be called Washington Square in the 19th Century. The park is marked by the iconic Washington Arch at Fifth Avenue– an imposing marble structure modelled after the Parisian Arc de Triomphe. It stands 77 feet high so it is impossible to miss.
During the celebration of the centennial of Washington’s inauguration as first president of the USA, this grand marble arch was built to replace an older wooden one. The iconography found on the Arch centers on images of war and peace. On the spandrels contain images of the Roman goddess Victory, and there are also stars in different sizes along with capital W’s on the upper portion of the arch.
And of course, a park dedicated to Washington wouldn’t be complete without a statue of the man himself. The one I shot below was of ‘Washington At War’, where he is accompanied by Fame and Valour on each side. On the opposite side, you will find Washington dressed in civilian outfit to mark ‘Washington At Peace’. Here, he is accompanied by Wisdom and Justice.
These two figures were added much later to the arch. There’s also an inscription on the top of the Arch that says, ‘Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.’ This is a quote from Washington of course.
This whole area used to be a military training ground. Can you believe it? When they excavated the park to do some repairs to the arch, they actually found a good number of skeletal remains underneath!
Passing through the Washington Arch and into the park’s territory, I was immediately swept away by the fun energy of the people inside the park. Everybody was engaged in some sort of activity, whether young or old, two or four-legged. This is a fantastic place to people-watch.
There were people sitting quietly on the benches, reading the paper or clicking away on their smart phones. I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, I’ll sit too.’ For a little while, I just kind of watched people move around me and listened to the sound of Washington Square Park. I could feel the breeze brush against my neck and it seemed to be calling for rain.
Allowing myself to just bask in the pulse of this place made me appreciate the fact that I was here all the more. Sometimes a quiet moment is all you need to realize that life is good. 🙂
Since this park pretty much lies right inside the NYU “campus”, it’s not rare to see some students engaging in recreational activities around these parts to destress. Makes me want to go back to being a college student too, to tell you the truth.
Exiting the park on the other side, it was unfortunate I didn’t have too much time to check out the bits of NYU opened to the public. I wanted to get a feel of what being a student in here is like, because the tuition is outrageous! Haha! Alas, next time perhaps? Hey, a girl can dream right?
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