West Village and Greenwich Village

Today, this area is one of the wealthiest in the city, however it wasn't always that way. Before Dutch settlers arrived, the area was literally a village, home to an Algonquin community called Sapokanikan. Soon after the Dutch arrived, they forced the Native Americans out and took over the fertile farmland. For years, this village remained a quiet country escape from the bustling urban area to the south. In 1731, Captain Peter Warren built a mansion in the village, and soon other affluent families were following suit, quickly giving this area a lasting high social status.

When the City Commissioners began to plan the new grid layout of the city's streets, the village remained untouched and so its streets continue to have their own patterns. Soon, like the Lower East Side, this part of the village became home to numbers of artists, writers, musicians, and bohemians, because it had retained its laid- back air of being a "village", its funky cafes and bars, and its low rents. In the 19th century, these people included Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and Henry James. Later on, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Dylan Thomas, and then in the mid- 20th Century, it shared residents with east village of Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez, and more. Today, the area is still inhabited by some artists, but only those who have "made it" and can afford high priced real estate.

The Brown Building 
Today it is part of NYU, but in the beginning of the 20th century, it was called the Asch Building and was the site of The Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire that killed 146 people, mostly those of young women, who worked in the top three floors of the ten floor building. 

Cafe Reggio
This is one of the oldest cafes in the area. It is open 24/7 and offers a great atmosphere and a great chocolate mousse. 

Meat Packing District
The Meat Packing District is an entire neighborhood in the northwest corner of the west village. It got its name in the very early 20th century, when it was home to 250 slaughter houses and packing plants. In the late 20's, the city wanted to improve this area, so the High Line elevated freight line was constructed and finished in the early 30's. Today, the train no longer runs and the track is a public park called the High Line. Over the decades, the waterfront of the district began to decline and in the 60's, so did the neighborhood. In the 70's, a new industry began crop up in the area, which was nightclubs catering to gay patrons. In the 80's as the industrial companies were on their way out, the area became known for drug dealing and prostitution, especially of transsexuals. Now, the nightclubs became sex clubs, which were often run by the mafia. In the mid- 80's many of these clubs were closed as a part of AIDS prevention. In the late 90's, the area had a major turnaround and became very expensive and fashionable. Many high end stores and restaurants began to pop up and in 2004, the area was named "New York's Most Fashionable Neighborhood". 

Cafe Wha
This "cafe" is one of the old vestiges of the mid 20th century. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, were frequent performers at this venue, especially before they attained much fame. Other acts included the Fugs, the Velvet Underground, and Jimi Hendrix. Today it is a bar and home to the Cafe Wha? House Band, which plays fast paced versions of pop songs. 

Washington Square Park
Originally, this spot was a marshland with the Minetta Brook running through it. Later, it was the site of  hanging gallows. In the 1820's, it was made into a public park and parade ground for the military. After this change, more buildings were built around it. In the 20th century, the park allowed buses to use the middle region (where the fountain is today) as a turnaround and idling spot. Since then, vehicular traffic in the park has been outlawed and more trees and benches have been added to the park.
Washington Arch
This was originally erected in wood in 1889 to commemorate George Washington's inauguration 100 years earlier. It had so much good publicity that Jan Paderewski, a piano player, gave a benefit concert to raise money for the permanent arch that stands there today.