During the 19th century, millionaires like the Astors and Vanderbilts had homes in East Village,
but the waves of Irish, German, Jewish, Polish, and Ukrainian
immigrants who flooded into New York City in the 1900s soon displaced the elite, who moved uptown.
Since then, the area has been home to the Beat generation of the 1950s, hippies in the 1960s, and punks
in the late 1970s and 1980s. Today it's still a young person's neighborhood, with its experimental music
clubs and theaters and cutting-edge fashion.
New York University is in the area, so there's no shortage of
clientele here. Foodies take note: this neighborhood reputedly contains the most varied assortment of ethnic
restaurants in New York City, from the crush of Indian eateries on the south side of East Sixth Street (sometimes called "Little Bombay")
to McSorley's Old Ale House, a pub that seems unchanged since it first opened in 1854.
Nearby, in what was once the home of the Astor Library,
the restored Public Theater has been the opening venue for many now-famous plays.
For more trend-setting street life, head east toward Alphabet City (named for avenues A, B, C, and D)- still a little rough around the edges
but with many reasonably priced, fun, and gamut-running places to eat, drink, and shop…and, if you're really getting into the scene, some very cool tattoo parlors.
A haven from the pressure of classes at New York University, students regularly gather around the Alamo at Astor Place.
The Alamo is a 15-ft (4.5m) steel cube designed by Bernard Rosenthal that revolves when pushed. Cooper Union, a school
that holds many interesting public lectures and exhibits, was established in 1859 just in time for Abraham Lincoln to
make a campaign speech in its auditorium.
Today, Blue Man Group performs its popular Tubes Off-Broadway audience-participation performance art extravaganza at the Astor Place Theater.