Many opposites coexist peacefully in the East Village: dive bars and craft-cocktail dens, Ukrainian diners and the latest chef-driven restaurant, stylish boutiques and counterculture stores. Famous for its nightlife, the East Village has become increasingly more upscale in recent years with St. Marks Place trading in some of its grit for a hodgepodge of students, well-earning postgrads, and international expats. At its roots, the neighborhood is a community of artists, activists, and social dissenters—and though this is still the essential vibe here, the finish is much more polished these days.
East of 1st Avenue is Alphabet City, once the city’s seedy drug haunt but now an ever more gentrified neighborhood. There is still a young, artistic (and sometimes seedy) vibe in and around Tompkins Square Park.