During the era of the Beatniks, many inspired artists, writers, musicians, and actors headed to the east and west coasts to create a new sort of culture. Greenwich Village in Manhattan quickly became the east coast center of Bohemian culture, from which many rebellious ideas and interesting art forms sprung. In fact, many famous American artists and writers, including the ineffable Jack Kerouac, were residents of this area when it was just beginning to gain a reputation around the world.
Although the starving artists have moved on to other, cheaper areas of New York City, first SoHo then TriBeCa, mainly, Greenwich Village, or The Village to those who know and love it, still certainly retains much of its artistic culture. It’s now home to many upper-middle-class families, but even these doctors, lawyers, and financial gurus embrace the culture and history of The Village and still largely practice a live-and-let-live left-wing political theory.
The Village isn’t totally devoid of the traces of Bohemian culture. Now, though, Greenwich Village bohemian culture is concentrated in smaller areas. On some level, the students of NYU, whose main campus is located in The Village near Washington Square Park, fit largely into this cultural ideal of rebellion and new ideas that break free from old traditions. The Village also has one of New York’s largest concentration of gays and lesbians, who are free to live as they choose in this eclectic area.
You’ll still find some of the coffee shops that inspired Jack Kerouac and similar writers if you head to Greenwich Village. These shops and others like them still carry that feeling of new ideas swimming through the air, just ready and waiting to explode out into the broader culture. If you want to feel like a hippie for a day, walking the streets of Greenwich Village, New York is a good way to do it.