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West Village - Manhattan

The Village is the epicenter of all things different. It's a hotbed of alternative sexual orientations and prides itself on being so. The neighborhood is quaint and quiet and decidedly beautiful with its brownstones, townhouses, antique shops, upscale boutiques and parks. From hanging out in Washington Square park to the night life or shopping in the meatpacking district there is something for everyone.

The drawback: If you want to make this place your home you'll need a lot of luck and even more cash to do so. Everyone wants to live here, so if you snag a spot you'll be the coolest kid among your friends and forced to host all parties and gatherings. Greenwich Village is the most sought-after area in New York, and apartments are priced accordingly, going for as much as ten times higher than other areas. But if you are one of the chosen ones and are able to find a place that's within your budget, it'll probably come complete with a fireplace, brick walls and large windows.

Greenwich history is best known for its sexual revolution days as well as the women's lib and gay liberation of avant-garde hipsters from Allen Ginsberg and Andy Warhol to Gloria Steinem. But can you imagine deer and elk roaming around what is now Bleecker Street, the area's main drag? The trendiest neighborhood in New York started off as one of the best tobacco plantations in the colony. Greenwich was named back in 1731 when English commander Sir Peter Warren bought a big chunk of those tobacco plantations and built a huge house for his family where Perry and West 4th now meet; many other wealthy families followed suit. In 1822, during small pox and yellow fever epidemics of New York City (back then, the city borders were miles south of Greenwich), families fled north to this little country village. Banks and businesses quickly set up shop, and New York University was founded on Washington Square in the 1830s.

Anyone who was ever anyone has lived in the Village. Louisa May Alcott wrote "Little Women" at 130 MacDougal Street; Edgar Allen Poe wrote "The Raven" at a club at 83 West 3rd while living at 49 East 9th; Edith Warton and Henry James were both known to stay at 1 Washington Square North_albeit not together; and Mark Twain and Walt Whitman had addresses here.

So who lives here now? Celebs, artists, and a few conservatives thrown in for good diversity measure. Greenwich is just as widely known for its artistic side, as it is its sexual acceptance. The 1940s through the 1960s ushered in artists as the wealthy townhouses owners left for the more fashionable Uptown. Beat poets and students of Lee Strasberg's "Method" soon ruled Greenwich Village, and it was dubbed the new Paris.

The cobblestone streets, cozy cafes, bohemian feel, preserved brownstones and anything-goes attitude have forced the prices back up to its former days of wealthy homeowners, and now only the chosen few can afford to live here. It seems the whole world knows of the charms of Greenwich Village, as many restaurants and businesses geared toward the tourists who want a piece of its charm have popped up along its quaint streets. For those all-night nights, you'll want to drop by French Roast, open 24/7 at 12th St and 6th Avenue. And when you're seeking some of the freshest European bistro food, head to August on Bleecker Street (between Charles and West 10th).

(mention somewhere new "meat packing district", bars, clubs, restaurants and shopping)

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