Meet 9th Street
9th Street will capture anyone’s attention – and keep it. No matter how many times I have walked it, I never tire of what 9th Street has to offer. The appeal begins all the way east at Avenue C with one of Manhattan’s flourishing gardens, 9th Street Community Garden, and continues with the lively Brazilian restaurant, Esperanto; a neighborhood coffee bar favorite, Ninth Street Espresso; and a terrific dining experience at The Wayland. Strolling through Tompkins Square Park always entertains, but once I walked through it, and approached Avenue A, I was in awe of all that 9th Street continued to present.
Interspersed in just a short stretch are a remarkable number of men’s and women’s clothing boutiques offering up-to-the-minute stylish clothing together with vintage and designer consignment shops. Reason Outpost, a men’s clothing brand with a lot of New York pride, is dedicated to showcasing an urban style. Pink Olive carries clothes for babies, as well as many fun knick-knacks, cards, and gifts for adults. The King of Nostalgia, Mike Spitz, not only carries 90s clothes but also 90s games, toys, and memorabilia at Mr. Throwback.
Sprinkled throughout the street are antique shops – just one great find after another – and a multitude of jewelry stores selling contemporary designs alongside stunning antique pieces. For example, Polytima Designs is a small shop run by a woman whose jewelry has been in Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan magazines.
As for food and drink, Mace, with an emphasis on spices (including the nutmeg derivative for which it is named) is one of the most innovative cocktail bars in the city. Zucker Bakery offers treats influenced by the traditions of Europe, Israel, and Morocco to hungry shoppers and Whitmans is the perfect place to experience a classic American meal with a bit of a twist. As for two specialty spots, Superiority Burger always sports a line down the block for its veggie burger and BeQu whips up fresh juices daily. And just when I thought I had walked across an entire street without stumbling upon an old-world Italian restaurant, I came across Arte. Traditional and enticing in every way.
And what is a side street without its bars and liquor stores? But here on 9th, even these shops take on a slightly different focus. In an elegant setting, Sakaya sells only sake, and then at Good Beer, yes, just craft beers are sold.
A genuine throwback to decades gone by is Flower Power. I loved the smell, the vibe and the people the moment I stepped into this herbal shop. Having owned a bookstore that carried educational toys, I have a special appreciation for Dinosaur Hill, a toy store that still stocks many of the old time favorites. The smattering of art galleries is the icing on the cake as they each embody the bohemian spirit of the East Village.
9th Street has its share of historic markers too: Dawn Powell, novelist and playwright; Marianne Moore, the Pulitzer prize-winning poet; Argentinean tango composer Astor Piazzolla; musician Jimi Hendrix; children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak; and Barbra Streisand all called 9th Street home at one point in their career.
Tompkins Square Park is dedicated to Daniel D. Tompkins who was Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States. The land was first owned by Peter Stuyvesant before Tompkins acquired it. Later it became a public park. Stuyvesant Street, a mini street off 9th that was maintained as an exception to the grid, is currently located between Third Avenue and 10th Street and is one of the few streets in Manhattan that runs due east in relation to the grid. This charming street is just one short block lined with homes and apartment buildings so beautiful that they often appear in film. At Broadway and East 9th Street the sign reads Wanamaker Place. What is now K-Mart, at the turn of the twentieth century was the annex to the Wanamaker department store. Another magnificent residential block can be found on 9th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. Small plaques on many of the buildings indicate that they were constructed in the 1800’s.
And that is where 9th Street ends, just a short distance into Greenwich Village. If you are a lover of fashion, an artist or a foodie, 9th Street will certainly capture your attention. One cannot help but marvel at the eclectic collection of places found on this entire stretch of pavement.