A History of the East Village
A History of the East Village

Hosting unique performances year-round, Tompkins Square Park is considered the recreational and geographic heart of East Village. The diverse performance line-up includes events such as the open-air drag festival Wigstock, the Howl Festival and Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.

Whether you are interested in music and arts or you are just looking for a quaint hangout in New York, apartments near the East Village offer a wealth of entertainment, prime dining and shopping options. The East Village has been a scene of a vibrant artistic community since the early 1970s when it became the favorite place of musicians, artists and students. Known as the birthplace of artistic movements such as punk rock, hip-hop and the Nuyorican literature movement, the neighborhood has amazing history.

Early History

The area of Manhattan that would eventually became East Village, was originally a sprawling farm owned by the Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant. In the early 19th century, during the Great Irish and German Immigration, one of his descendants began selling off parcels of the land to poorer immigrants from Europe. This made the area less appealing and eventually transformed it into a slum, where thousands of inhabitants lived and worked in miserable conditions.
The growing working class from abroad made the area America’s first foreign language neighborhood. For approximately 60 years, hundreds of social, political, sports and music clubs were set there. During this time, new immigration waves brought Ukrainians, Poles and people from other countries in the neighborhood.
As the community grew larger, many residents gathered to strike and occasionally riot against the inhumane working conditions, hunger and other social injustices. These events set the stage for what East Village would become in the following decades – a home for the brave, independent and artistic minds.

Revival: The New Neighborhood

Although the area remained a home of immigrants until 1960, the gradual migration of Beatniks spawned the interest of artists, musicians, students and hippies. Waves of new inhabitants swept the neighborhood. To dissociate from the image of poverty, the new residents gave the area a new name – East Village.
As the community’s reputation as a center of counterculture grew, many influential musicians, artists and writers were drawn to the neighborhood. According to popular newspapers and magazines from that time, East Village became the heart of the underground culture in New York. Artists like Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg, Charlie Parker, Andy Warhol and many others made it their home base.
In addition to art and literature, music was also influenced by the local vibe. Artists like Madonna, Blondie, Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd started their careers there during the 1970s and 1980s. Thank to its musical diversification, the neighborhood is considered the birthplace of punk-rock, hip-hop, anti-folk and many other musical genres.


Nowadays East Village has been altered by gentrification, a pattern in Manhattan that often occurs when a certain neighborhood is considered hip and artsy. Although it lost some of its radical edge, the community is a more comfortable, safer and a less gritty and noisy part of New York today.
The bohemian lifestyle and spirited past of the East Village are still living in the numerous artistic hangouts, theaters, quaint restaurants and cafés. The neighborhood is a melting pot of culture, art, history and upscale living.


If you are looking for apartments near the East Village or other prime Manhattan areas, do not hesitate to contact StuyTown. We have offered some of the best spaces and value with no-fee rentals to residential customers in New York City since 1950.