Fifth Avenue and SoHo may be popular destinations for holiday shopping in New York, but for those who enjoy browsing in small stores away from the crowded sidewalks, Bleecker Street in Greenwhich Village could be the answer. Approximately 1.14 miles in length from Abingdon Square in the West Village down to the Bowery, Bleecker Street changes its mood block by block. Because of the diversity of the street, it's possible to find gifts for the bohemian and the bourgeois alike.
On the north end, stores such as Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, and Mulberry have turned the street into a designer row. Some Villagers aren't crazy about the embourgeoisement of the historic Greenwich Village street, largely because these stores can me found in any other affluent neighborhood. The stores near the nightspots and bars between 6th Avenue and LaGuardia Place, on the other hand, are far less tailored. The stretch between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue is a heaven for foodies, with Murray's Cheese, Amy's Bread, Rocco's Pastry just a few of the mandatory stops for gourmet food lovers. Music stores like Rebel Rebel and Bleecker Street Records keep the soul of Greenwich Village alive.
View A Bleecker Street Holiday Guide: From Abingdon Square to the Bowery in a larger map
The selected list of stores, restaurants, bars and points of interest on the embedded map may be too long to serve any practical purpose, but the lengthy annotated list goes to show that Bleecker Street covers a lot of territory. I've included some unexpected attractions - Portrait of Sylvette, a sculpture in the courtyard of University Place that's fashioned after a design by Pablo Picasso, the small park known as Winston Churchill Square, and the location of Zena the Clairvoyant. The psychic's salon in a triangular building at the intersection of 7th Avenue has become a familiar sight for many Villagers and visitors.
East of LaGuardia Place, Bleecker Street runs by NYU housing and continues southeast through NoHo, intersecting with Mercer St., Broadway and Lafayette, down to the Bowery. I've made note of the location of DBGBs, Daniel Boulud's Texas-France haute diner on the Bowery, just to suggest its proximity to Bleecker Street. It would be a great place to celebrate the end of a shopping expedition. Call ahead for reservations.
If you can understand how Bleecker Street curves and flows, then it's easier to find your way around Greenwich Village without getting lost. The street also runs parallel to W. 4th Street. Still, there's no harm in becoming sidetracked from time to time, especially if you stumble upon a pocket of lost bohemia.
Also worth mentioning:
• 429 Records has come out with a musical tribute to the neighborhood titled The Village with covers of quintessential Village songs by well-known artists.
• Nearby, the Brooklyn Flea has opened a temporary holiday store in the old Tower Records building at the corner of E. 4th St. and Lafayette. Worth checking out.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from November 29, 2009.