Greenwich Village has a history and a reputation as a Bohemian enclave, and more artists writers, and musicians have lived in the area than it is possible to name. Bob Dylan once lived at 161 West Fourth St., and 11 West Fourth St. is Electric Lady recording studios, made famous by Jimi Hendrix.
Now, though, the feel is very much that of a university town: a little bit Libertarian, a little bit left wing, but not too radical, not too dangerous, and just passing through on its way to something else.
This is understandable, of course, when NYU is right on the doorstep and apparently owns large parts of the village.
There are still the trappings of its past, though. Cafe Wha, still exists, though looking slightly faded, and Le Figaro still retains some of its charm. The statues in Stonewall Place still remember a time not so long ago, when personal liberties had to be fought for, and remind us that there are those who would turn back the clock in that regard. On the whole, though, Greenwich Village now feels quaint, safe, and a little ways away from the cutting edge.
It remains a great place, though, and has its highlights. Washington Square Park is a great area for people-watching and listening to buskers. The view from Sixth Avenue north to the Empire State Building is great, and Cafe Reggio on McDougal Street had the best coffee (and waffles) I had in New York.
On a fine evening, as the chess players set up their tables on Thompson Street and the cafés along Bleecker street and West 3rd start filling up, there is a buzz, and it is hard not to find yourself with a smile on your face. It is hard not to feel a part of something. Or maybe it is the ghost of something - who knows.
P.S. If you have young children (2 to 6) there is a great children’s playground at Abington Square (corner Bleecker and Bank sts.) in the West Village. It gets very hectic, but we have found that an hour in the playground keeps our daughter happy for a day or so of less obviously child-focused activities.