New York, NY
Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
Small-scale residential street that cuts through the heart of Greenwich Village, with many owner-operated specialty stores, restaurants, and nightclubs.
With its small-scale, historic buildings and creative storefronts, Bleecker Street's attractiveness and diversity reflect the best elements of this famous neighborhood. With its activity, variety, and informality, Bleecker manages to function both as a destination (for New Yorkers and tourists alike), and as a neighborhood street where residents can still get shoes repaired and buy groceries.
What Makes Bleecker Street a Great Place?
Parking available on one side of the street during they day and both sides at night; because the street is narrow, deliveries and doubled-parked cars serve to slow down traffic (along with heavy pedestrian usage, the street receives heavy car and tourist bus usage). Easily accessible by numerous subway lines. The street is close to many landmarks including Washington Square Park, N.Y.U., and Sheridan Square.
As a major artery running west to east, the street is walkable in that it is narrow and its sidewalks allow for good pedestrian movement. Presence of people makes the street feel safe and maintains a constant level of energy and use. Bleecker Street has a certain nostalgic charm (which can become rather touristy in some spots); one can sit in open-air cafes, or a small square on the corner of Sixth Ave. and Bleecker.
Very active with pedestrian traffic and a variety of retail establishments - some of which have been there many years and are recognized as landmarks. Most are at street level with residences above, making this place both a neighborhood and a shopping area.
Lined with restaurants, cafes and bars, the street is lively at almost all hours of the day. With a multitude of establishments, and many activities spilling out from buildings onto the sidewalks, street life is abundant. Many residents are old-timers who know one another and the shopkeepers.
History & Background
Bleecker Street has been called many things - most evocatively, perhaps, the "Left Bank of America." It has also been referred to as the "breadbasket of the Village." It was on Bleecker in the early 1900s, when the New York area was America's film capital, that D.W. Griffith shot most of the outdoor scenes in his early silent films. In the 1940s, pushcarts made this street all but impassable. Cart operators were forced by law to move indoors, but the street retained its association with food, and today's Bleecker Street still contains some of the best and freshest fruits, vegetables, pastries, cheeses, meats, fish, and delicacies to be found in the city. Bleecker was immortalized in Allen Ginsburg's poetry, and musicians from Gian-Carlo Menotti to Simon and Garfunkel have paid tribute to its vitality.
Today, Greenwich Village is a mecca for the shopper in search of something unique. From a hard-to-find record, an antique rocking chair, or a talking parrot - to say nothing of a riff of jazz, an outdoor cafe, or an off-off Broadway show - it is likely to be found on Bleecker. But don't even think about moving here: mere mortals can't afford the rent, and residents never leave.
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, 212-924-3895
- 60 of the World's Great Places - Bleecker Street was named one of the 60 greatest places in the world