The area of the West Village is usually defined as bounded by the Hudson River on the west and either Sixth Avenue or Seventh Avenue on the east, extending from 14th Street down to Houston Street. The West Village contains some of the most historic and magnificent townhouses in the city.
Several generations of writers and artists have lived and worked here: in the 19th century, Henry James, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Stephen Crane; at the turn of the 20th century, O. Henry, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, and Hart Crane; and during the 1920s and ’30s, John Dos Passos, Norman Rockwell, Sinclair Lewis, John Reed, Eugene O’Neill, Edward Hopper, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the abstract expressionist painters Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning congregated here, as did the Beat writers Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The 1960s brought folk musicians and poets, notably Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul, and Mary.
Today, block for block, the Village is still one of the most vibrant parts of the city. Professionals occupy high-rent apartments and town houses side by side with bohemian, longtime residents — who pay cheap rents thanks to rent-control laws — as well as NYU students. Locals and visitors rub elbows at dozens of small restaurants, cafés spill out onto sidewalks, and an endless variety of small shops. The exciting mix of history and an artistic vibe make the West Village among the most desirable neighborhoods in the city.