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St. Marks Place
New York , NY 10003
Long known as a countercultural hotbed, this downtown neighborhood is the perfect place to stroll around. The focal point of the area for many is St. Marks Place (aka 8th Street, between Lafayette Street & Avenue A) always bustling with people visiting the music shops and tattoo parlors. Below Astor Place, Third Avenue becomes the Bowery, the city’s one-time flophouse strip and home of missionary organizations catering to the down-and-out. Today, the Bowery has been renovated, cleaned-up and invaded by swank restaurants and clubs. One casualty of this gentrification was CBGBs, the birthplace of many American punk bands. The club closed its doors in Autumn 2006 because even its pedigree couldn’t withstand rising rents. Still, you have many eateries to choose from and places such as Tompkins Square Park (from 7th to 10th Streets, between Avenues A & B) to enjoy, much as locals do.
Off-Broadway shows thrive here, including Stomp (at the Orpheum on 2nd Avenue), a fun-for-the-whole-family percussion show which is one of the longest-running Off-Broadway productions ever produced. A few blocks east you’ll find the Blue Man Group, playing at the Astor Place Theater (for over 15 years!), and across the street is Joseph Papp Public Theater, where many productions that ultimately end up on Broadway get their start. Beat poets, anarchists, artists and musicians have put their marks on the East Village, which despite all the gentrification remains experimental, electrifying and eclectic.