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West Village: Birthplace of Cool


 I’ve never really spent much time in the area of Manhattan called the West Village.  In fact the area between mid-town and Soho has always been a bit of a mystery.  Streets are a bewildering labyrinth of winding lanes and confusing  intersections.  It is truly an area one can get “lost” in.

Years ago my husband and I announced our engagement to his parents at their favorite restaurant in Greenwich Village.  That was so long ago neither of us can remember what restaurant that was and his parents are gone now so….. it’s only a vague memory.

I decided on my  last trip to NYC to take some time and explore this part of Manhattan and see what I could see.

First of all I learned that it is considered to be most like the Left Bank of Paris–and I can relate to that.  It’s artsy, cute, quaint, confusing and filled with people who like to go their own way.

 Yep.  I found that.  The streets don’t follow the grid that is imposed on much of Manhattan.  In fact, how could 11th and 4th Streets intersect? They would be parallel in most of Manhattan.

And it is quiet by ordinance.  I thought this was interesting.  In India it is rude not to honk and most trucks have signs that say Please Honk.” Here you get a whopping big fine.

But on to what I discovered.

 There are darling streets with quaint and intriquing homes.  Oh how I ached to tour them.



I also loved the hidden park at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields.  It’s a beautiful retreat from busy urban life.



And great shops and inviting spots to eat.  Bleeker Street is known as the center and has become more high fashion but other streets have personal and fun places to spend your money. Or just browse.




People watching is at it s best here.  Purple hair, black kilts,  red pants, time travelers from the hippie days.  I’d spend more time spotting wild stuff  here if I could.



 Folks seem to have a sense of humor.  I like that.  It is great to watch people enjoying themselves.



 And some of them don’t want things to change and to keep their Village quiet.  Note the sign we spotted in a store window.



An eatery we’ll go back to is Minetta Tavern–once a speakeasy,  long time bar and now trendy go to  place, it exudes warmth and charm.  We enjoyed a wonderful meal soaking up the ambiance, imagining what it was like when the Village was filled with beatniks and jazz musicians.


 After exploring the West Village we meandered up to the High Line where people go to take a stroll.  Others to enjoy an afternoon nap in the sun.  If you don’t know what that is, click here and here for two posts  on DesignDestinations about this fabulous park in the sky on the west side of Manhattan. I’ve written about it before so won’t go into details.


This trip we enjoyed the the blooming plants.  Wow.  Have always gone in the winter before.  Spring is stunning on the High Line.  And the “art” that is  blooming along the way made me pause and smile.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Jun 19, 2012 Reply

    That area of NYC seems to have a Prague-like feel, from the photos—enough to entice me. Thanks!

    • posted by
      Jun 19, 2012 Reply

      I think you’d like it.  

  2. posted by
    Jun 20, 2012 Reply

    Susan, you have given me a trip down Memory Lane.  When I spent a month in New York I lived on 14th Street between 8th and 9th, so the neighborhoods you covered were on my radar; in fact, I recognized several of your photos.  I need to return!

  3. posted by
    Miller Marianne
    Jun 26, 2012 Reply

    Love travel with you…you see things that I either would not notice or go places that I did not have time to explore…pics are terrific…Greenwich at 2 in the morning is a bustle and feels safer and cleaner than it did 11 years ago. 

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