Small curving streets, peculiar alleys, and historic town houses—it's easy to see why the tree-lined streets of the West Village (which are primarily residential) are in such high demand. A stroll here reveals charming cafés, carefully disheveled celebrities out and about, and well-dressed children playing in the parks. Visitors come here to feel like a local, to daydream about a life in New York. Unlike 5th Avenue or SoHo, the pace is slower, allowing shoppers to enjoy the peaceful streets and independent and designer stores. This is the place to come for unusual finds as well as global-brand goods. The West Village section of Bleecker Street is a particularly good place to indulge all sorts of shopping appetites; high-fashion foragers prowl the stretch between West 10th Street and 8th Avenue. Hudson Street and Greenwich Avenue are also prime boutique-browsing territories.
Christopher Street has long been the symbolic heart of New York's gay and lesbian community, though places like Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and parts of Brooklyn attract more gay and lesbian residents these days. On Christopher Street, among the cafés and adult shops, is one of the city's most acclaimed Off-Broadway theaters, the Lucille Lortel, where major playwrights like David Mamet, Eugene Ionesco, and Edward Albee have their own sidewalk markers. Nearby, at 51–53 Christopher Street, is the site of the Stonewall Inn and the historic Stonewall riots, one of the most famous, catalyzing events in the LGBT civil rights movement. Across the street is a gated triangle named Christopher Park, where commemorative statues of two life-sized gay and lesbian couples have posed for photos since 1992.