Living in Nolita: Things to Do and See in Nolita, New York
Nolita—The Hip and the Historic
The tiny neighborhood of Nolita (“North of Little Italy”), with its narrow tree-lined streets, is considered by its residents the new SoHo: charming, elegant, and hip—an urban oasis with an effortlessly cool vibe. The area has a quiet, yet stylish residential ambiance, with a mix of longtime tenants and trendsetting newcomers.
Nolita was originally part of Little Italy: a neighborhood of social clubs, rustic restaurants, family-run groceries, butchers, bakeries, and Catholic churches, and the heart of Italian-American life in New York City from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. It still has an Old World charm. A place to escape from the crowds and the tourists who frequent Little Italy, Chinatown, and SoHo, where you can still get to know your neighbors, yet with all the benefits of downtown living.
Where is Nolita Located in NYC?
- East to West Boundaries: Bowery to Lafayette Street
- North to South Boundaries: Houston Street to Broome Street
- Subway: 6, B, D, F, M, J and Z
- Ticket Out of the City: The Williamsburg Bridge and FDR Drive
What to Do in Nolita?
Nolita is home to unique stores that cater to a sophisticated, creative crowd. McNally Jackson Books on Prince Street is a gathering spot for local writers, offering readings, book-signing events, and panel discussions with celebrated authors from around the world. The neighborhood has become a magnet for many independent designers and owner-operated retail stores, vintage shops, pop-up art galleries, and boutiques, many having moved from SoHo to seek the relaxed residential atmosphere for which the neighborhood is known. It also attracts international fashion houses, such as Issey Miyake as well as outdoor-adventure brands such as REI and Roots.
In the summer, Nolita’s café-lined streets are perfect for outdoor lounging, as are its wide, easily accessible open spaces and parks. The area has a distinct European character at times, reminiscent of laid-back urban neighborhoods in Italy and France. That said, both Nolita and neighboring Little Italy host popular summer festivals that draw tourists and out-of-towners.
Nolita’s nightlife is more subdued than in neighboring SoHo and the East Village, with small bars, vintage speakeasies, and intimate pubs alongside more upscale establishments like Botanica, Sweet and Vicious, or the extravagant Goldbar.
Among Nolita’s architectural landmarks are the circa-1809 St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mulberry Street, the original seat of the Archdiocese of New York. Taking up an entire city block at 295 Lafayette Street is the iconic Puck Building. Home to REI, commercial office space, and a handful of luxury penthouses, the Romanesque-Revival building with its ornamented red-brick façade was built in 1885 by Albert Wagner as the headquarters of Puck Magazine. Famous residents of Nolita have included film director Martin Scorsese, who was raised in the neighborhood; the late David Bowie and his wife, Iman; and singers Courtney Love and Rihanna.
Many small galleries dot the neighborhood, among them the nonprofit Storefront for Art and Architecture, which has a gallery at Kenmore Street, as well as the downtown incarnation of the Upper East Side’s Salon 94 Bowery and the Andrew Edlin Gallery nearby. The Bowery’s International Center of Photography offers sophisticated academic programs, acclaimed photography exhibits, and an extensive library. Nearby is the world-renowned New Museum of Contemporary Art. During the warmer months, pop-up street art and outdoor galleries go on display throughout the neighborhood, where exposed outer brick walls are transformed by upcoming local artists into ever-changing, colorful murals.
What to See in Nolita?
Because of its small scale, real estate inventory—and turnover—is lower in Nolita. Residents like to stay put. The area offers only a handful of full-service condominiums, but Nolita’s property market offers the luxury buyer everything from single-family townhouses to restored warehouse lofts. New full-service condominiums are rising and existing spaces are being developed. For example, the top two floors of the iconic Puck Building on Lafayette Street, which encompasses an entire city block, were converted in 2014 into six deluxe penthouses, one of which recently fetched the highest price in the neighborhood. The median sales price for apartments shot up by more than 50 percent over the past five years. Prices can range from $1 million for a studio or one-bedroom apartment to upwards of $50 million for a full-floor penthouse.
Where to Eat in Nolita?
Nolita has some of the best restaurants south of Houston Street in a low-key setting, including New York City’s first ever pizzeria, Lombardi’s, on Spring Street, which opened in 1905. The neighborhood offers a wide variety of espresso bars and gourmet patisseries, including Zagat’s highly-rated Milk Bar Nolita, an offshoot of the famous Momofuku restaurant group. For creative international cuisine, residents can choose from the Musket Room, which serves contemporary New Zealand fare; Estela, which specializes in Mediterranean plates; and Uncle Boons, which offers Michelin-rated Thai food.
What Schools are in Nolita?
Nolita has a few public schools, but no private schools. The standout is the NYC Lab Middle/High School for Collaborative Studies. Nearby is New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math, a highly-ranked K-12 school for gifted students at East Houston and Columbia streets.
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