Renowned for its quaint restaurants and classic brownstone buildings that sit neatly on sun-dappled, tree-lined streets, New York City‘s West Village basks in the glory of its enduring chic, European appeal. Once the epicenter of America’s liberal avant-garde movements, including the 1969 Stonewall riots, it is an area where artists and performers have long felt an affinity—famously, Bob Dylan called it home for many years. Today, it remains a highly desired residential enclave for some of the city’s most wealthy and elite.
Blessed with waterfront views and enviable transport links, the West Village’s pedestrian-friendly streets remain among some of the most exclusive to live in the Big Apple. Add to that the recent development of the High Line and Hudson River Park, which has led to significant investment in the area throughout the past decade, and a boom in West Side property has ensued.
“There have been significant transactions in recent years, including our listing at Abingdon Mansion that sold for $30 million in 31 days, a record for last year, as well as penthouses transacting above $40 million and $5,000 per square foot. Nearby, blue-chip tech and other office tenants are moving in, and luxury brands from Hermès to Six Senses are calling the West Side home,” says Erin Boisson Aries of Christie’s International Real Estate Group. “Between the Whitney Museum of American Art, educational establishments such as Avenues: The World School, and the 7 Subway Extension to Hudson Yards, the larger area has grown a critical infrastructure to attract the best in culture and education.”
Part of the neighborhood’s quirky charm lies in the fact that many of its streets sit “off the grid,” predating the city’s iconic 18th-century grid plan. However, striking views command the highest premium in Manhattan, which means properties along the West Side Highway and with views of the Hudson River could not be better positioned. Residents looking for peace and privacy tend to steer further west of 7th Avenue, while the likes of Bank Street, West 11th Street, Perry Street, and Charles Street remain forever popular, says Boisson Aries.
Dining and Drinking
Buoyed by New York’s craft spirit renaissance, many of the city’s modern bars replicate the prohibition look and feel of speakeasies from the Roaring Twenties. But why not visit an original? Chumley’s, opened by social activist Leland Stanford Chumley in 1922 and frequented by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner has recently been revamped and its walls are adorned with the book jackets and photographs of former famous patrons.
Meanwhile, 425 West Street is home to The Rusty Knot. This nautical-themed rum bar offers a cool alternative to the more traditional destinations in the heart of Manhattan—and prides itself on a “tiki-dive” aesthetic akin to spending time “at your uncle’s lake house in the 1980s.”
Those with a penchant for high-end gastro pubs that serve seasonally focused fare, alongside an Old-World wine flight, will adore Bar Sardine on 183 West 10th Street. In the warmer months, its floor-to-ceiling windows open completely, helping to increase the popular spot’s compact footprint.
Italian dishes are plentiful in New York, but few restaurants deliver on all fronts like Via Carota. Known for exceptional pasta, this Italian mainstay sits in the heart of the West Village and queues can be long during peak times thanks to its no reservations policy. If that’s the case, try the chic outpost of city-favorite Sant Ambroeus on West 4th and Perry Street. This lively establishment is also a good option for a weekend brunch, as will be its soon-to-open neighbor Dante on Hudson Street (whose sister bar, Dante in Greenwich Village, recently won World’s Best Bar 2019). Dante West Village will take inspiration from Spain’s Basque Country, and the promise of a “Thrown Martini” has already piqued the interest of local residents.
For an inventive menu head to Toriko. The favored Japanese brand has chosen the West Village as its New York residence, and serves mouth-watering yakitori—grilled chicken skewers worthy of those it is famous for in Tokyo. Alternatively, a high-end omakase menu can be found at favorite Sushi Nakazawa.
The West Village remains one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in the city, not least for its array of eclectic boutiques and high-end shopping. Bleecker Street and West 4th Street are the primary stretches for top-tier purveyors, supported by a recent flurry of new stores opening their doors. These include Il Bisonte, a Tuscan brand of handcrafted leatherware whose sustainable bags and accessories are a celebration of Florentine craftsmanship.
LoveShackFancy, a lifestyle shop with a vintage twist, stocks everything from jewelry and stationery to hats, bags, belts, and beauty products, while designer boutique Edon Manor is where bags and shoes abound in plentiful glory. Locations closer to the Meatpacking district, along Washington and Greenwich Street, are also popular couture and boutique destinations, advises Boisson Aries, while everyday conveniences and groceries are readily accessible along 6th, 7th, and 8th Avenues.
Culture and Architecture
If notable architecture is the skeleton of the West Village, cultural hotspots are its beating heart. Recognized for nurturing a wave of independent presses and experimental theater during the 19th century, the area still houses historically significant buildings and culturally important organizations. Local residents and preservation groups have successfully lobbied for the area to be designated a historic district, and in 2005 the neighborhood became one of Manhattan’s first to be downzoned. As a result, high-rise waterfront towers are now prohibited, and the reuse of existing buildings is encouraged.
Examples include Westbeth Artists Housing, a non-profit housing and commercial complex, and the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library, originally designed by architect Frederick Clarke Withers as a courthouse in 1874.
“The West Village has always appealed to the artistic and downtown-loving clientele,” says Boisson Aries. “With its landmarked homes and shorter blocks, it has a European feel that resonates with die-hard West Village enthusiasts. Sought after for its prewar charm, landmarked townhouses, and overall lower density, it’s a market that is popular at all prices and configurations, from entry-level studios and one-bedrooms, to double-width townhouse mansions.”
On the Market
Wake in the morning to sprawling views of the Empire State Building and take breakfast on the large private balcony off the generous living room from this 858-square-foot (80 sq m), high-floor corner one-bedroom, one-bath condominium. Available through Christie’s International Real Estate Group, this is a full-service residence with a beautiful planted roof deck. It’s attended by a 24-hour doorman and full-time resident superintendent, and features a direct-access parking garage.
This oversized loft-like one-bedroom apartment is just minutes away from Abingdon Square Park. For sale through Christie’s International Real Estate Group, it features high ceilings and a king-sized bedroom with a large amount of storage space, while the co-op has a part-time doorman and a live-in super.
One of the most beautiful apartments in the West Village, this two-bedroom, three-bath corner duplex apartment is available through Christie’s International Real Estate Group. The apartment has double-height ceilings that allow for an abundance of light, with four exposures—including southern and western views. It’s a home that’s designed for entertaining, featuring an open loft-style layout, a kitchen built for a world-class chef, and a private terrace that spans 447 square feet (42 sq m) overlooking Jackson Square Park.