La Sirena Mexican Folk Art
A homey craft and antique store operating in the East Village since 1999, La Sirena Mexican Folk Art sells authentic Mexican art and merchandise. Much of the work sold in the shop is handmade, ensuring that the traditions of the artists’ families live on and that the artist is fully compensated for his or her work. From clay and glass pieces to dolls and figurines, one could spend hours sifting through all that La Sirena has to offer.
St. Mark’s Bookshop
Established in 1977, St. Mark’s Bookshop is nestled in the heart of the East Village. Carrying works of literature that encompass genres such as cultural theory, graphic design, poetry and small-press publishing, this engaging and unique bookshop embodies the essence of the surrounding area. If you’re an avid reader and supporter of the arts, or simply just want to check out a long-standing establishment in the neighborhood, then St. Mark’s Bookshop is the place to go.
A notable off-Broadway production house, the Orpheum Theater has existed since 1904. In its early days, the Orpheum was referred to as the ‘Players Theater’ and was located in the Yiddish Theater District. The theater changed with times, transitioning into a film house and then back to a full-fledged performance stage in 1958. The theater has hosted countless performances, from the revival of the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes in 1962 to the show performed by percussion group Stomp, which has been on the same stage since 1994. Orpheum is well known as one of the oldest off-Broadway theaters in NYC.
Tompkins Square Park
With ten and a half acres of beautiful greenery, open space, and public facilities, Tompkins Square Park is a simple yet appreciated neighborhood attraction. There is something to do for all ages in this little slice of nature. From playgrounds for kids to basketball and handball courts for athletic visitors and chess tables for those who want to give their mind a workout. There are also many performances held in the grassy area of the park throughout the year, which are free of charge and open to the public.
Anthology Film Archives
Opened in 1970, Anthology Film Archives is a place of study that is dedicated to the preservation and screening of films, specifically independent and avant-garde works that are otherwise overlooked. These films are studied, collected and exhibited for the public to see. In fact, Anthology Film Archives has grown to such an extent over the years that it now holds the world’s largest collection of literature related to avant-garde film, making this place a must-see for film enthusiasts who find themselves in New York.
New York Marble Cemetery
A landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the New York Marble Cemetery is the oldest public, non-sectarian cemetery in New York City. Nestled in a small alley on Second Avenue, it is hard to imagine that over 2000 burials have taken place here, mostly in the late 1800s and early 1900s. At this particular cemetery, all of the deceased are laid to rest in solid white marble vaults located below the surface. Interestingly enough, the cemetery is privately owned by the descendants of the original owners of these vaults, and those descendants can still be buried today in their family vaults. It’s open once a month to the general public. Furthermore, the ground is also accommodating garden parties and available for use as wedding grounds.
The Pyramid Club
A renowned dance club and bar that has been operating since 1980, The Pyramid Club offers live music, a DJ and open mic nights. A critics’ pick in New York Magazine, this club has withstood the test of time and continues to thrive in the East Village. Also a stage for occasional off-Broadway performances, The Pyramid Club is a great option for some late-night fun.
Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space
Pursuing a mission of restoring and preserving the beauty of nature and public spaces in the East Village and Lower East Side, the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) is a volunteer-run history museum that is open to the public five days a week. The goals of the museum are to ensure that community spaces stay intact and to educate the public on the political implications of the reclaimed space. Whether you are an urban activist, a museum lover or simply someone who enjoys all of the gardens and open spaces throughout the Lower East Side, the MoRUS should definitely be on your agenda.
Since 1886, Webster Hall has continually served the surrounding community as a performance hall and nightclub. One of the largest speakeasies during Prohibition, it then transformed into an iconic rock ‘n’ roll club under the name The Ritz, only to transition back to the original name of Webster Hall and host a larger variety of events. This historic landmark continues to host various events, and with its three large ballrooms, there’s plenty of room for everyone.
Yoga to the People
Yoga is a great way of decompressing and calming your inner self, especially when one is immersed in such a busy place as New York. With locations based around the country, Yoga to the People aims to give everyone the opportunity to practice this form of meditation at an affordable cost and a chosen level of exertion. The affordability and variety of levels ensure that people will not be turned away from yoga due to money or physical incapability. If you have time to spare and are looking to relax, you should keep Yoga to the People in mind.
By Michael Manukian