Meet 2nd Street
After days of observing the construction and change taking place on 1st Street, it is noticeably different to wander down 2nd Street where life is much more peaceful in comparison. Pavement eventually gives way to wide cobblestone as 2nd becomes the artists’ haven of Bond Street, a short extension of 2nd ending at Broadway. Contrasting the architectural structures, beautiful greenery on walkways, windowsills, and by restaurant seating gives this street an urban-meets-agriculture vibe. To add to the intrigue, 2nd Street shares with 1st Street and Great Jones that quirky flipped numbering system.
Though there are far fewer retail spaces than on 1st street, we were totally entertained by what 2nd Street’s establishments had to offer: from a bookstore dedicated to photography (Dashwood Books) to shoe art (United Nude). Many talented artists and writers once called this side street home, and several prominent New Yorkers are buried at New York City Marble Cemetery, a landmark site.
The tense climate between older residents and newcomers is not as palpable here as compared to 1st, which may explain why there is still a nostalgic feel when walking this street. Long gone are the beatniks, punk rockers and anarchists of the past, and in their place we had the pleasure of meeting today’s immigrants and artists who are staying true to their crafts on 2nd Street. We found hookah bars and authentic Eastern European goods, the Anthology Film Archives housed in a 1920’s courthouse, several notable Italian wine bars and restaurants, Kenkeleba House, which has one of the largest African American art collections in the country, John Derian’s three novelty shops filled with his own découpage glassware and an array of other quirky gift ideas, and Bonnie Slotnick whose antique cookbook shop is both homey and nostalgic.
Trendy Bond Street is an extension of 2nd Street with multi-million dollar apartments, remarkable architecture, celebrity sightings and swanky establishments. Artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Chuck Close and so many others once made, or continue to make, their home here. It is clear to us that what the West Village has in literary figures, the East Village and Noho have in avant-garde artists. All of which makes a stroll down 2nd Street — even if only to admire the art and architecture and take in the old-world charm in the air — worth every step from Avenue D to Broadway.