There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
Today's East Village was originally a farm owned by Dutch Governor Wouter van Twiller. Petrus Stuyvesant received the deed to this farm in 1651, and his family held on to the land for over seven generations, until a descendant began selling off parcels of the property in the early 1800s. These blocks became the city's premier residential district. In the early 1830s, red brick row houses stretched north of Soho between Second Avenue and Washington Square. These row houses were soon joined by the ambitious ecclesiastical institutions of the city.
By the second half of the 19th century, Fifth Avenue had become the premier address of the upwardly mobile. First publishers and then textile firms moved into the area vacated by its wealthy residents and replaced the row houses with practical buildings which are greatly admired to this day.
Speculating devleopers began building multi unit dwellings on lots meant for single family homes and began renting out rooms and apartments to the growing working class. The "East Village" was formerly known as Klein Deutschland ("Little Germany, Manhattan). From the years roughly between the 1850s and the first decade of the 20th century, the "East Village" hosted the largest urban populations of Germans outside of Vienna and Berlin. It was America's first foreign language neighborhood; hundreds of political, social, sports and recreational clubs were set up during this period, some of these buildings still exist.
Until the mid-1960s, this area was simply the northern part of the Lower East Side, with a similar culture of immigrant, working class life. In the 1950s the migration of "Beatniks" into the neighborhood later attracted hippies, musicians and artists well into 1960s. The area was dubbed the "East Village," to dissociate it from the image of slums evoked by the Lower East Side.
This walking tour will begin at the foot of East Village, on Houston Street, in front of one of the city's most whimsical buildings...