Greenwich Village has retained much of its charm and historic character in recent years, thanks in part to its activist residents, zoning regulations, and an eccentric deceased landowner named Bill Gottlieb. South of 14th Street and west of Sixth Avenue (or Broadway, depending on whom you ask), Manhattan’s grid system of streets ceases to function, and crooked, narrow lanes begin. How else to account for the intersection of West Fourth and West 12th Streets? The northwesternmost area, now referred to as the Meatpacking District, with its industrial buildings and quaint cobblestone streets, had until recently doggedly resisted development, and some streetscapes appear much as they were fifty years ago. Now packed with restaurants, bars and the towering Gansevoort Hotel, it too has quickly entered the 21st century.
Although long-time residents bemoan the weekend bridge-and-tunnel crowd, endless throngs of visitors, and double-decker tour buses, both the residential buildings and entertainment locales underscore its true New York flavor. Jazz locales and trendy cafés compete with quieter establishments and small off-off-Broadway theaters. And it was in Greenwich Village that the gay-rights movement intensified after the Stonewall riots of the 1960s; the Stonewall/Christopher Street area today is testimony to the neighborhood’s unique and liberal character.