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A Walk In the West Village

by Andrea on February 7, 2013

I’ve always loved the peacefulness of New York City’s West Village. Depending on who you talk to, it stretches from 6th or 7th Avenue to the Hudson River, a cozy enclave of beautiful historic buildings and expensive boutiques, along with some trendy restaurants and a variety of cafes and shops. Celebrity sightings are not uncommon and, despite the large amount of wealth found here, the neighbourhood still feels unpretentious and inviting.

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We’d chosen to stay in the West Village, in a lovely little apartment. It was quiet around the holidays, as New York can be, and I’d been desperate to get out and take some photos of the neighbourhood. Tucked under my arm was my Secret New York guide, which is an awesome book, written by locals, filled with hidden places around the city that both visitors and locals will love to discover. One of these was just a block away from our apartment: artist, director and designer, Julian Schnabel’s home, the Palazzo Chupi (360 West 11th St., www.palazzochupi.com).

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Palazzo Chupi

It is, as the book describes, “an oversized Venetian Palazzo atop a former horse stable” painted “radioactive scarlet.” Apparently many of the neighbours hate it and people protested outside after construction of the building began in 2005.

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Westbeth Residence at the Old Bell Laboratories

A dozen interconnected structures that formerly made up the Bell Laboratories are now an enormous artists residence. The Westbeth Residence (55 Bethune St., www.westbeth.org) provides affordable loft apartments for low- and middle- income artists. The waiting list was ten years long before it officially closed in 2007. I would love to go back and explore this place a bit more next time I’m in the city as I didn’t have time this particular day and had to continue my walk.

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One of the places I stopped on my walk was 18 West 11th St. This building looks a bit different than the others around it, with a “jutting wedge angling from its face.” My guidebook tells the story. In the 1970s the subbasement of this building was a meeting place for the radical leftish organization, the Weather Underground. Unbeknownst to the owner, his daughter and four other members were making dynamite and nail bombs here when they inadvertently blew up the building. Wilkerson lost her clothing in the blast while three of her associates were killed. Apparently Dustin Hoffman was the neighbour called to identify the bodies. The subsequent owners had to fight with the Landmarks Commission to push the new design through. And for the last 32 years, Norma Langworthy has kept a Paddington Bear in the front window. She changes its clothing to reflect the season. She says this has nothing to do with the Weathermen incident.

Thank you to JonGlez Publishing for providing me with a copy of Secret New York, An Unusual Guide and Secret London, Unusual Bars and Restaurants (click for that post). All opinions are always my own.

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess @UsedYorkCity February 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm

What a lovely post! I love taking strolls around the West Village…it’s a much different feel than the rest of the city, really like it’s own little quiet village. I’ll definitely have to check out the Palazzo, I’ve never noticed this one before!

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm

It’s a pretty amazing building, Jess – looks so out of place, but I can’t understand why people are so upset about it. Especially in a neighbourhood like the West Village that seems to otherwise celebrate diversity…

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Megan February 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

this is part of the reason i love NYC…so many faces to the city. every little nook and cranny has something to offer.

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Totally agree, Megan – I’ve never been bored for a minute in NYC!

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Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I love, love, love Magnolia Bakery! I’m making note of this guide book for the next time I’m in NYC. It sounds like a great way to discover more of the city.

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I highly recommend the guidebook, Jennifer. I learned so much – read the whole thing cover to cover, even though I didn’t have time to actually visit all the places mentioned.

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Sophie February 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm

The secret guidebook sounds fabulous. Will remember that when going to NYC for sure.

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I love these Secret guides – I want one for every city I visit now. So much great info, and written by locals!

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Ali February 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm

You’re making me want to go back to NYC! I love the Giants/Jets snowmen, cute!

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I enjoyed that too, Ali!

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Johnny February 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Wow! Looks like West Village is an interesting and peaceful part of NYC. And you’ve got nice photos!

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Thanks, Johnny – definitely check it out if you get the chance!

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Sofie February 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Magnolia Bakery! Cupcakes!
Mmmm… Have to get back to NYC some time. Have only been there once with my parents adn that time we did all the touristy things you do on a first trip to NYC. Now I’d like to go back to just wander around…

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Great city for that, Sofie – cheers!

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Emily in Chile February 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I should not have read this just now…it all looks so fabulous, and I was supposed to be arriving in this exact neighborhood tomorrow morning until Nemo showed up! Crossing my fingers for a tomorrow night arrival, but for now your photos will have to tide me over.

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I hope you get there soon, Emily!! And have a fantastic time when you do =)

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Faisal February 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Nice photos, I didn’t know New York had such neighborhoods. All we see in movies are the busy streets or the shady areas.

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Oh definitely – I see the Village depicted quite often on TV these days, but you’re right, usually it’s Midtown that gets most of the airtime.

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Cathy Sweeney February 9, 2013 at 9:54 pm

I’ve done my share of walking around the West Village, but didn’t know about most of these things (with the notable exception of Magnolia Bakery). Thanks for the information. I’ve got to check out Palazzo Chupi next time.

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I didn’t either, Cathy – that guidebook contains all sorts of hidden fascinations…

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Andi February 10, 2013 at 12:01 am

Loooove these pics of my old hangout. Now I want a cupcake!!!

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Did you used to live down there?

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Sarah Park February 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

Nice photos. The place looks so inviting.

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inspiringtravellers February 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Thanks, Sarah!

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Stephanie - The Travel Chica February 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I will definitely be picking up that book the next time I visit NYC. Lovely photos.

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inspiringtravellers February 11, 2013 at 10:12 am

I want one for every city I visit now, haha – so many interesting finds! Thanks, Steph

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Natasha von Geldern February 11, 2013 at 12:09 am

Great post! This part of New York City was much more “me” than the gleaming skyscrapers.

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inspiringtravellers February 11, 2013 at 10:12 am

I like it all, Natasha – but I need to escape the busy parts of the city at the end of the day…

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Craig Makepeace February 11, 2013 at 12:54 am

I’m dying to get back to NYC. Lovely post and photos. Best way to see a city is by foot. Never heard of these guide books, love tips by locals so will remember this for our next visit.

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inspiringtravellers February 11, 2013 at 10:12 am

They have them for lots of cities – highly recommended! Hope you get back to NYC soon =)

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London Boy February 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I love Noo Yawk and I’ve never even been there.

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John February 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

You’d dig it the most, London Boy! You’ll get there one day my friend.

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Brandon Elijah Scott February 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Great post! I’ve actually never been, will have to soon.

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inspiringtravellers February 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Cheers, Brandon – hope you get to visit soon! =)

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Heinz February 14, 2013 at 8:09 am

Well written article about West village. Will be on my agenda when visiting next.

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Cheryl Howard February 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Love this post and photos! I’d like to take a walk like this too. :)

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inspiringtravellers February 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

Thanks so much, Cheryl!

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Arianwen February 18, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Looks like a really interesting neighbourhood. I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in NY

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inspiringtravellers February 19, 2013 at 11:45 am

Definitely do! =)

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Sherry February 26, 2013 at 5:14 am

You make me miss the cold, crisp air. Heading to the really cold weather tomorrow. But it’s no west village. I have to explore more of NYC.

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inspiringtravellers February 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm

It’s starting to warm up here in Norway and I feel like I’m going to miss the cold!

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Koren @ City Gal February 26, 2013 at 8:52 am

I love the West Village. One of the reasons I find New York to be so beautiful and encourage those visiting to veer from the traditional tourist spots. I have to admit, I think Magnolia is overrated, and I don’t understand the hype when there are so many amazing cupcakeries in the city. What did you think? I love that there are so many trendy places, but the neighborhood still maintains an artsy bohemian feel.

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inspiringtravellers February 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I totally agree with you – I have never rated Magnolia’s cupcakes…

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Ayngelina February 27, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Ooh now this is my kind of guide, where you find all the things you would just normally walk by.

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inspiringtravellers February 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I know, pretty awesome!

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