|Graffiti is an important part of the culture of Alphabet City.|
The eastern section of the East Village (beyond First Avenue), also referred to as Alphabet City, is a neighborhood that has undergone significant gentrification in the past 30 years. I didn’t spend any time in this part of the city during my early days here in the 1980s. I do, however, have a lifelong friend who lived here during a portion of New York’s broke and crime-ridden years. She remembers the area well and even though her description is a bit frightening, she still has fond memories of her time there.
As we head into the weekend and some of us will no doubt head downtown for some “goings out” in the next few days, let’s take a look at this slice of NYC that, like the rest of this town, continues to change by the minute.
Here’s a glimpse back to an earlier, troubled, yet powerful time in history, followed by some of my favorite spots in present-day Alphabet City.
|Even today, the East Village is colorful.|
The East Village: How Times Have Changed
Remnants of those earlier times still exist –– the EV is one of the few areas of Manhattan with any amount of grit remaining from the good old days. My friend Lees Harris lived in Alphabet City in the mid-1980s. Recently, she reminisced about her gritty years there.
“I remember that my ex-boyfriend, Stephen, bought a condo on 8th street between Avenues B and C. When we moved in, we were not only the first tenants of the newly refurbished five-story walk up, but one of two inhabited buildings on the entire block! It was so cheap that he was able to purchase the top two floors in the front of the building and the roof access.” Today, the same apartment would probably be in the millions.