The History of Alphabet City
The History of Alphabet City

Alphabet City may once have been considered dangerous but today is a mix of affluent New Yorkers, NYU students and longtime creatively inspired residents. This mix gives Alphabet City a personality that runs deep no matter how many new buildings spring up. With graffiti art lining the walls, beautiful parks, wonderful restaurants, and one of kind vintage shops, this is a neighborhood to explore and fall in love with.

The Beginning of the Alphabet

Alphabet City is the area from 14th Street to Houston Street, and from Avenue A to Avenue D. Before it was bustling with buildings, this area was marsh. In the 1800's developers began building apartments and a large German community sprang up. By the early 20th century the area became more diverse with Jewish, Irish and Italian immigrants making this area their home.

By the 1980's things had shifted again and the area became home to a number of Puerto Ricans. There was poetry and music in the air as artists began to make one small cafe a hub for artistic expression.

A Creative Hub

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, founded in 1973, became a safe place for artistic expression. This was simply a room in Miguel Algarin's apartment. It became so packed with brilliant, creative minds that there was a need for more space. In 1981, the building at 236 East 3rd Street became a home for playwrights, painters, poets, musicians and artists of all kinds. Today, there are weekly poetry slams, literacy programs, visual art installations, and evenings of jazz.

Green Space in the Heart of Alphabet City

Along with the historic spaces in Alphabet City, one of the most iconic is a green space. Tompkins Square Park was originally owned by Peter Stuyvesant in the late 1600's. In the 1800's Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor of New York and Vice President under James Monroe, owned the land. Between 1835 and 1850 the area was turned into a park. Three of the trees which were originally part of the park design are still standing today!

Not only are the plaques, statues and playgrounds important to the park, but the ability to come here and have a voice may be most important. Demonstrations have taken place here in 1857, 1875 and most recently in the 1980's. Fans of the hit musical RENT will recognize the clash between police and protesters over a place for the homeless to sleep. Today this is a place where there is a dog run, great playgrounds for the kids and feeling of history.

Being Off the Subway Line

The fact that Alphabet City is off the subway line keeps some of its charm intact. As this neighborhood is a bit of a trek for many it is not packed with tourists like areas such as Union Square or Battery Park City. This has helped some local restaurants and shops maintain their integrity and their following. From vintage dresses to vinyl records, there is a curated sense of beauty even in the stores.


Peter Cooper Village / Stuyvesant Town is located just outside the border of Alphabet City, north of 14th Street and runs from First Avenue to Avenue C. With Oval Park, a pet-friendly path, programming for the kids and spacious no-fee apartments, we can be your home just north of one of the most creative neighborhoods in the city. For more information call 1-877-774-1849 today!