Tuesday, October 14, 2014

East Village Walking Tour

Houston and Bowery art mural wall
Last Sunday Jeff and I took a walking tour of the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, offered by the Strand, the legendary bookstore in Union Square. We spent two hours going through the main streets and side streets and seeing former flophouses, bars, theaters and libraries. I was particularly interested in the neighborhood's street art.

Our tour started at the corner of the Bowery and Houston streets, where there is a big art mural.
Mural Detail

What's now the John Varvatos store was once the legendary CBGB nightclub. We saw the former home of the Fillmore Theater and an apartment where Trotsky lived, along with the first public library, a former German shooting club and more.
Everywhere we went we saw neat graffiti art. Some of it was informal and spontaneous, like Cost and ENX's stuff, which always appears together.

 Some of it was clearly sponsored/commissioned.

Some of it is community-approved and changes regularly. This mural of Joe Strummer replaced an earlier version. The mural itself is a large canvas attached to the wall near Tompkins Square Park.

One of the best examples of street art I saw was this decorated mosaic lightpost. They are all over the East Village and the product of a man named Jim Power, "Mosaic Man" of New York City.

Here is a detail of one of his mosaics:

This mosaic wall of his is one of the oldest installations in the city.

We actually got to meet the Mosaic Man himself, who happened to be working on a mural outside of Tompkins Square Park. He was so friendly, and even complimented by blinged-out Hello Kitty cell phone. Fun!

We strolled through colorful St. Mark's Place, full of restaurants, shops, tattoo parlors and more. There is a legendary vintage clothing store that sells to the likes of Lady Gaga and a former theater where you can see the handprints of Joan Rivers and Kitty Carlisle.

After passing through Astor Place we finished up the tour at the Strand, where we browsed for a while. Jeff and I spent some more time in Union Square and then wound up back at St. Mark's Place for dinner, where we went into one of the many Japanese restaurants on that street for a delicious bowl of ramen. It was the perfect ending to a really fun afternoon!


JoAnn said...

A perfect day!Thanks for sharing the photos, too.

Audrey said...

My mom grew up on St. Mark's Placw (my dad grew up in the neighborhood too) and it seems like its become so trendy since the days when we used to visit relatives there more often. Now all you need is some Ukrainian food to make your next visit complete!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Loved the great street art.

Becca said...

Love this! so glad you're enjoying your new home. When I visited NYC all I really saw was 9/11 site and Wall Street and Time Square. I might have liked the less touristy stuff much better.

Ted said...

Hey, I'm just noticed that you've become a New Yorker! Welcome to my fair city.