The East Village is one of downtown Manhattan's most vibrant neighborhoods, bounded by 14th Street on the north, the East River on the east, Houston Street on the south, and Broadway on the west. Many people are attracted to this spot because of its relatively affordable prices compared to other downtown areas.
Until the 1960s, the eastern side of Manhattan between 14th and Houston streets was simply the northern part of the Lower East Side, and shared much of its immigrant, working class characteristics with the area below Houston Street. A shift began in the 1950s with the migration of Beatniks into the neighborhood, and then hippies, musicians and artists in the 1960s. The area was dubbed the "East Village", to dissociate it from the image of slums evoked by the Lower East Side name.
Over the last 100 years, the East Village/Lower East Side neighborhood has been considered one of the strongest contributors to American arts and culture in New York. At the heart of the East Village is Cooper Union, one of the country's most prestigious art and architectural schools, and Saint Mark's Place--a famous nightlife destination for its many clubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants. An area of more trend-setting street life is found towards the east - Alphabet City (named for avenues A, B, C and D) for an eclectic mix of reasonably priced, fun and a myriad of places to eat, drink and shop.
In the last 20 years large areas of real estate were bought, renovated, and turned into condominiums, co-ops, and high-rent apartments, supported by major local community and law-enforcement initiatives to develop and upgrade the area. However the east side of Alphabet City remains an affordable alternative for students, professionals, and families.