Where Junkies, Hipsters, Post-Punks, Stoners, drunken undergrads, drunken postgrads, unofficial Japan-town, and the remnants of the East Village’s sordid past collide.
If you walk the length of St. Mark’s Place from Avenue A to the Bowery on any given day, you are certain to encounter at least one or two deliciously eccentric New Yorkers. Continue past the Bowery, and the street becomes West 8th, where you will find the Lomography USA Embassy and Gallery Shop, where yours truly is ecstatically employed.
Formerly ground zero for the heroin-addled punks of the “original” East Village, St. Mark’s (like much of the city) is safer since the Po’ cleared out the “degenerates” in the 80s. Though this is to the chagrin of the old school denizens of the EV, I will admit I prefer being able to people watch without fear of being stabbed.
This street is a must for any camera-jockey visiting Manhattan…not only is it full of colorful off-the-wall shops, the cross-section of people is truly mind-boggling.
There are a number of Japanese restaurants on the street (one which has a demon panda bear out front), making it a sort of unofficial Japan-town. There’s your usual array of sunglasses and t-shirt vendors, as well as the densest collection of head shops in the city. Chill local cafes co-mingle with chain restaurants, and you can always pop into the St. Mark’s Hotel for the Needle Exchange, if you feel so inclined.
The people are diverse. It reminds me why I came to this city in the first place. NYU is a block West, so watch out for bevies of drunken undergraduates after night fall. Watch out for bevies of drunken grad students as well…you might run into yours truly, and I’ll want to talk your ear off about Aristotle’s Poetics and Tri-partite action structure (or I may just give you a high five).