New York City's acknowledged epicenter of hipness lies south of Gramercy and north of the Lower East Side, in the East Village. Artists ranging from Madonna and Blondie to the Ramones and Beastie Boys have called the East Village home and, more than any other Manhattan neighborhood, the East Village has been integral to the development of the scenes that have long defined downtown cool. But while most NYC dwellers can tell you that the East Village was the cradle of punk and indie rock, experimental theater and visual art in New York City, the neighborhood's luxury rental apartments remain something of a well-kept secret.
Many East Village apartments are turn-of-the-century walkups, but a host of new construction residential buildings -- many condominium or co-op; many others, such as the stylish Red Square, offering apartments for rent -- have changed the look of the neighborhood without significantly dulling its still edgy feel. The recently renovated Tompkins Square Park and a host of historic buildings and community gardens give the neighborhood a small-city openness, but the East Village remains unmistakably and perhaps quintessentially New York. Thanks to its unique combination of first-class fine dining establishments and unpretentious ethnic joints, posh lounges and funky dive bars, cool boutiques and niche record stores, there's no mistaking the East Village for any other neighborhood in Manhattan, or the world.