Let me start by saying that I was a teenager in the 1970's. I spent a lot of time wandering around The Village. I loved that there was an edge to it. West 8th street had a great mix of head shops, record stores, stores that specialized in really good band tee-shirts and posters. It was a place where 20 drama club nerds could end up after a successful show and dinner in Chinatown, sitting in Washington Square Park with a jug of wine, not worried about being hassled by the police. There were inexpensive restaurants and bars. There was the 8th street Playhouse:
Yes, it was edgy and seedy! That was the whole point.There was an honesty to the village. Anyone could come. Everyone could be who they were. This led to birth of political movements.
|Stonewall riots http://gvshp.org/|
So what is Greenwich Village like today?Well, Greenwich Village is still worth the trip to visit. There are many architectural treasures to be seen, just above street level.
|Row of houses along 6th Ave.|
|Jefferson Market Public Library|
8th Street TodayAs I said earlier, 8th street used to be one of my favorite places to hang out. I would spend hours in the poster and t-shirt shops. I used to go to a place called Mamie's for ice cream sundaes. And i used to go to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show with my friends. It was a place where someone who didn't have a lot of money could come and hang out for an evening and feel like they were welcome and belonged here.
Today 8th street has become a gentrified, and expensive. The restaurants are all upscale. Now, it is home to one of my favorite "coffee-snob" places - Stumptown
|The best coffee roasters and brewers around|
On the other hand there is also 5oz. Factory. This store sells frozen custard and fried Wisconsin Cheese curds. But taking advantage of being on 8th street their prices start at over $7 for the cheese curds. Way beyond what I am willing to pay.
But all is not forsaken. For Washington Square Park is still the heart of Greenwich Village, and it has been rehabbed and is back to jewel status.
|Washington Square Arch|
And the feel of the park as a town square is still there. Near the Arch you will find the drummers and guitar players who have been there since the 1950's still congregating. The fountain is a performance space for acrobatic troops. The southwest corner is still home to chess players ready for a game. But be on your a-game before you sit down because they are good and will take your cash.
In other words, if you want some place to come and sit and watch people Washington Square Park is on of the best places in NYC.
One of the more interesting performers is the Washington Square Piano Player.
|Colin Huggins entertaining the crowd|
One place that is definitely worth the stop is Porto Rico Importing Co. This was the first store I had ever seen selling fresh roasted coffee. Walking into this shop, which has been on Bleecker Streetsince 1907 near 6th Ave is a delight for all of your senses.