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A Local's Guide to the 'Beautiful Hodgepodge' That Is the East Village

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The People's Guide is a new series examining New York City's many, many neighborhoods, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This time around, we welcome Julie Horowitz, East Village resident and co-owner of neighborhood joints Ducks Eatery and Harry & Ida's Meat and Supply Co.

How long have you lived in the East Village?
Four years (and counting) but it feels like a lot longer. I used to come down to the city every weekend in high school and the East Village was always my first stop. We used to see shows at The Continental, buy socks and other randoms on St. Marks, then walk down to Girlprops, this crazy costume jewelry shop with a zebra-painted car always parked outside. It felt only natural to live and open my businesses here.

Are there any local East Village customs of note?
The annual dog parade in Tompkins has become a pretty hilarious and lovable tradition. A lot of the side streets are also starting to run special incentives to bring neighbors in—7th Street runs a tasting on its most popular restaurants a few times a year, 9th Street just started a 9.99 percent discount on most of its shops. Each side street very much has its own personality.

What are some hidden gems in the East Village?
Ray's Candy Store is one of my favorite morning coffee spots. It isn't the best coffee in town, but it's inexpensive, always comes with a warm welcome and interesting conversation... and is sometimes self-serve!

What's a beloved neighborhood joint?
Mara's Homemade used to be one of my favorite places on 6th Street but unfortunately they moved out of the city just as I moved in. Virginia's on Avenue C serves one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Desnudas is my weekday go-to for $1 oysters and Micheladas and I love Amor y Amargo for a late night cozy cocktail.

Best park?
It isn't the most glamorous of parks, but Tompkins is looking pretty good these days and has one of the best dog parks in the city. It's also our only major park.

What is your local transit like?
Easy! We're so close to Astor Place/8th Street subways, First Avenue L, the F on Second Avenue and it's a short walk to the Union Square hub. I forget about transit sometimes since I'm lucky enough to walk all of five blocks to work every day, but it's nice knowing I can get anywhere without having to travel too far to the subways.

What's not-so-swell about your neighborhood?
These new, taller developments going up are pretty painful to watch. Avenue A looks completely different than it did a year ago with the loss of places like Sidewalk Café, Benny's and 7A. I guess this kind of change becomes inevitable at a certain point, but it feels like the East Village is one of the only neighborhoods left in Manhattan that is still holding on to its charm and integrity. I don't know how that's going to continue with these $3 million apartments popping up everywhere.

What's the neighborhood housing stock like?
Pretty dismal. For some reason a renovated, fancy prewar apartment on the Upper East Side goes for one-third the price and those are more abundant than apartments in our gritty (but lovable) little neighborhood. I think when you find a spot in the East Village you hold onto it, which makes for a great neighborly community but pretty terrible turnover.

Better for buyers or renters?
Avenues B, C and D are definitely for buyers right now. You can already see that area rapidly changing but it's still somewhat affordable (for the time being.) The rest of the neighborhood feels more geared towards renters.

Stereotypical residents?
I think the beauty of this neighborhood is that there really is no stereotypical resident. You've got your legendary punk rockers, bartenders and characters that have lived here their whole lives, then you've got a handful of young families, 20- to 30-somethings and small business owners. It's a pretty beautiful hodgepodge of folks down here.

Most common sight?
Depends on the time of day and the corner!

The final word on the East Village:
It's the most alive, eclectic and community-driven area in Manhattan, and I can't imagine living anywhere else.
· The People's Guide archive [Curbed]