Surrounded by the Hudson River, Broadway, Houston and 14th Streets, Greenwich Village is the birthplace of the bohemian spirit and home to students of New York University, off-Broadway actors, and residents who work in Upper Manhattan. In the 1790s, the area’s country estates were divided and sold to large landowners. Weavers, sail makers, and craftspeople moved into modest homes along paths surrounding the large estates. Far removed from the congested city center, Greenwich Village became an escape for New Yorkers fleeing the smallpox and yellow fever epidemics of the 1820s. In the 1830s, wealthy families built large houses, but soon moved uptown, leaving middle-class, Anglo-Dutch families to live between the industrial plants along the Hudson. As wealthy families left, their large brownstone homes were divided into smaller apartments. Writers soon took advantage of the affordable housing in Greenwich Village, among them Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and Mark Twain.
Today, Greenwich Village is an area where tourists rub shoulders with artists, intellectuals and students; the town comes alive at night with theatres, nightclubs, and cafes, but is serene by day with quaint shops and street musicians.