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East Village, Manhattan

The East Village used to be a part of the Lower East Side, but when the Lower East Side became a slum, real estate developers began to promote the name East Village to dissociate the neighborhood from the bad reputation of the Lower East Side.

The East Village has always been a hip area and a strong contributor to American Arts and culture in New York City. In the 1950s it was home to the Beat Generation, in the 1960s it was a Hippie neighborhood and from the late 1970s to the 1980s it was the epicenter of punk music. The legendary music club CBGB, which is considered to be the birthplace of punk music, was located in the East Village, it closed in 2006. Many bands started their career in one of the clubs in the neighborhood, such as Patti Smith, Blondie, the Ramones and the Beastie Boys. During those times, the East Village has also attracted all kinds of freaks, homeless people and drug addicts. Tompkins Square Park used to be a tent city for the homeless, until the riots of 1988, when the police struggled for days to kick squatters out. Alphabet City, as the area around Avenue A to Avenue D was called, used to be a no-go area.

Today, the East Village remains to be one of the hippest neighborhoods in New York. Experimental clubs, bars and innovative fashion are very present in the neighborhood. The most popular street to stroll along is St. Marks Place. However, the East Village has lost a bit of its image as an edgy and radical kind of place, and many long-time residents, who knew the East Village of the 1980s or earlier, complain that it’s not what it used to be anymore. They regret that the hype has destroyed the revolutionary and radical character of the neighborhood. Also, as it gets more and more expensive to live there, many of them are forced to move out.

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