west village ny street

A Walk In the West Village

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.

west village ny building

west village ny street

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).

palazzo chupi west village ny

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.

westbeth residence west village new york

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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west village nyc

magnolia bakery west village line

west village pizza joint with snowmen

west village building with vines nyc

cotton christmas wreath

west village ny shop

west village ny subway tile art

west village ny red door

police call box nyc

west village puppy shop

west village graffiti

west village shop window dolls

greenwich village school

18 west 11th st paddington bear
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.


  1. Koren @ City Gal 26 February, 2013 at 08:52 Reply

    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.

    • inspiringtravellers 26 February, 2013 at 16:50

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

  2. Craig Makepeace 11 February, 2013 at 00:54 Reply

    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.

    • inspiringtravellers 11 February, 2013 at 10:12

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

    • inspiringtravellers 11 February, 2013 at 10:12

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

    • inspiringtravellers 11 February, 2013 at 10:12

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

  3. Cathy Sweeney 9 February, 2013 at 21:54 Reply

    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.

    • inspiringtravellers 10 February, 2013 at 12:59

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

    • inspiringtravellers 10 February, 2013 at 13:00

      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.

  4. Emily in Chile 8 February, 2013 at 20:29 Reply

    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.

  5. Sofie 8 February, 2013 at 13:23 Reply

    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…

    • inspiringtravellers 10 February, 2013 at 13:03

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

  6. Jennifer 7 February, 2013 at 15:29 Reply

    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.

    • inspiringtravellers 10 February, 2013 at 13:05

      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.

  7. Jess @UsedYorkCity 7 February, 2013 at 13:24 Reply

    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!

    • inspiringtravellers 10 February, 2013 at 13:06

      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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