0 Love It
Save it

West Village

This pretty, upscale former bohemia is the soul of downtown.

The West Village is everyone’s favorite convoluted enclave in Manhattan. For well over a century, this warren of tree-lined streets and avenues running at diagonals has been literally and figuratively off the grid: It has welcomed successive waves of artists, bohemians, beatniks and hippies. This is where the gay-rights revolution was born. In recent years, the neighborhood’s unbeatable combination of cozy blocks and cosmopolitan atmosphere has been luring families of all stripes. And no wonder: The area offers a bonanza of attractions and services. We explored just some of these options, many of which are concentrated along the main drag for West Village moms and dads, Hudson Street.

Check it out

Perhaps the area’s greatest practical amenity for parents is KidsRx(523 Hudson St, 212-741-7110), a pharmacy that specializes in children’s health care. The store offers homeopathic elixirs along with standard meds, and can custom flavorize your child’s prescription to his taste. A model train running up high along the store’s perimeter helps the medicine go down.

These days, all self-respecting family ’hoods boast at least one kiddie barbershop. Doodle Doo’s hair salon and gift boutique (543 Hudson St, 212-627-3667) will take a little off the top while the TV at each station distracts your squirmy guy with a Dora the Explorer DVD. Each young client also receives a bottle of bubbles.

Once every lock is in place, teach your tot to balance mind with body at Karma Kids Yoga (104 W 14th St, 646-638-1444). Daily classes focus on movement, breathing and visualization techniques—all helpful for developing focus and self-control. A more eclectic schedule of activities is found at Baby Moves (139 Perry St, 212-255-1685), where some 50 weekly classes cover everything from dance and art to cooking and bluegrass.

Literally Alive, located at the Players Theatre (115 MacDougal St, 212-866-5170), produces original musicals based on kid-lit classics. Young audience members can meet cast and crew at preshow interactive workshops.

A good local library anchors any neighborhood, and the West Village has a terrific one in the NYPL’s Jefferson Market branch (425 Sixth Ave, 212-243-4334). Located in a landmark Victorian Gothic building codesigned by Calvert Vaux, one of the creators of Central Park, the library features a spacious first-floor children’s room and weekly storytimes.

Topping the area’s long list of cool shops is YoyaMart (15 Gansevoort St, 212-242-5511), which sells clothes, furniture and collectibles by Kidrobot, along with children’s books—or perhaps a Murakami catalog—that you’d never mistake for mass-market. Sister store Yoya (636 Hudson St, 646-336-644) offers similar quality merchandise for toddlers. One of our favorite toy shops anywhere is Kid O (123 W 10th St, 212-366-5405). Look for high-end wooden playthings like the Fagus trucks (handmade in Germany), as well as the store’s own line of games and puzzles.

Clever specialty shops abound here. House of Cards & Curiosities (23 Eighth Ave, 212-675-6178) lives up to its name, stocking real fossils, gemstones, shark’s teeth, ostrich eggs, amber jewelry and vintage-style tin toys. The Ink Pad (22 Eighth Ave, 212-463-9876) is devoted to rubber stamps of every ilk but also carries other craft supplies. Happily for parents, the shop stocks washable ink.

Parks and playgrounds

The Downing Street Playground (Downing St at Bleecker St) is famous for its secure, jewel-box-like setting: The equipment sits in a courtyard surrounded by brick walls set with octagonal windows. At the foot of Charles Street at the West Side Highway, you’ll find the entrance to Hudson River Park and the Charles Street Pier, which provides an expansive, AstroTurf-covered play area for tykes to romp in while you gaze at the river. The Corporal John A. Seravalli Playground (Gansevoort St between Hudson and W 4th Sts) and the Bleecker Playground (W 11th St between Bleecker and Hudson Sts) are both centrally located. Families closer to Soho or Tribeca frequent James J. Walker Park and the Carmine Recreation Center and Pool, which sit athwart Seventh Avenue South and Clarkson Street.

Eats and treats

You could spend days on a gastronomic safari here. A tasty place to start is the Diner (44 Ninth Ave, 212-627-2230). Catering to Meatpacking District clubbers at night, it has become a daytime staple for resident families, especially on weekends. The cuisine is solid comfort food with a twist—think kobe sliders —and breakfast is served anytime.

Fancy name notwithstanding, La Bonbonniere (28 Eighth Ave, 212-741-9266) is a classic greasy spoon renowned for its French toast. Coffeeshop favorites from burgers and fries to egg creams are also on the menu. Dublin 6 (575 Hudson St, 646-638-2900) offers a taste of Ireland in a kid-friendly environment. Relax with a pint of Guinness while the sprats enjoy a weekend brunch of sausage and chips. Cross the Irish Sea (or rather, Hudson Street) to Myers of Keswick (634 Hudson St, 212-691-4194) for Brit fare like Cumberland sausage, Cornish pasties, McVitie’s biscuits and a broad range of Cadbury goodies. Find locally sourced sweet-tooth satisfaction at 85-year-old Li-Lac Chocolates (40 Eighth Ave, 212-924-2280). Your kids will drool over the daily selection of fudge, French mint bars and hazelnut truffle rolls.

Don’t be surprised if the staff of Bourbon Street Southern Gourmet Pantry (529 Hudson St, 212-337-0988) asks to call you by your first name. They take their Dixie-style hospitality as seriously as they do the home cooking at this combo bakery, café and ice cream parlor. Come in for the po’ boys, cheese grits and eggs with sausage gravy; stay for the sweet potato cheesecake and pecan pie.

Step down below street level to Delicia Brazil (322 W 11th St, 212-242-2002), which dishes out authentic chow. Why settle for McDonald’s fries when you can have mandioca frita—fried yuca —instead? Speaking of big chains, foreign ones aren’t such a bad thing if they offer distinctive fare. Two Asian outfits with true kid appeal have stores near each other. Beard Papa’s (5 Carmine St, 212-255-4675), a Japanese purveyor with several city locations, serves fresh cream puffs in flavors like chocolate, green tea and pumpkin, plus other desserts like mochi ice cream—bite-sized morsels wrapped in chewy rice dough. Korean franchise New York Hotdog & Coffee (245 Bleecker St, 917-388-2608) offers variations on the ubiquitous tube steak. Try the one topped with bulgogi (marinated beef). Less adventurous types can dig into waffles, fro-yo and sundaes. Need a caffeine jolt after your day of schlepping? Remember that “& Coffee.”

  • Neighborhood schools
  • Insideschools.org
Elementary school
116 West 11 Street Grades K--5.
What's special: Active parents & warm community in a well-run building in Greenwich Village.
Downside: The school's popularity means that there is not room for everyone who wants to attend.
Reading scores:4 stars
Math scores:5 stars
P.S. 41 is a highly desirable school in a prosperous neighborhood - one that serves the children of artists, entertainers, NYU professors, and other professionals. It benefits from a stable staff and active parents who work hard to support the school... Read the full review from Insideschools.org
Middle school
320 West 21 Street. Grades 6-8.
What's special: Strong arts program
Downside: 5th floor walk up; basic facilities
Reading scores:4 stars
Math scores:4 stars
"The Clinton School for Writers and Artists is a tiny middle school where children may put on their own musical theater production, study ballroom dancing, or create art projects with students from the School of Visual Arts. Some kids even travel to Sardinia on a 10-day exchange program to study art and Italian... Read the full review from Inside Schools
High school
225 West 24 Street. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Fashion career training mixed with strong academics.
Downside: Old electrical wiring inadequate to meet computer demands; very low male enrollment.
Situated, appropriately, in Manhattan's bustling garment district, Fashion Industries High School offers its students three majors from the world of fashion: fashion design, merchandising, and art illustration... Read the full review from Inside Schools
Insideschools.org. All Rights Reserved.
  • Elementary schools
  • Insideschools.org
116 West 11 Street. Grades K--5.
What's special: Active parents & warm community in a well-run building in Greenwich Village.
Downside: The school's popularity means that there is not room for everyone who wants to attend.
Reading scores:3 stars
Math scores:4 stars
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, P.S. 41 is a highly desirable school in a prosperous neighborhood - one that serves the children of artists, entertainers, NYU professors, and other professionals. It benefits from a stable staff and active parents who work hard to support the school. In recent years the school has become so popular that its space has become somewhat cramped. PS 41 is a bit more traditional in tone and conduct than its neighbor, PS 3, with which it shares a zone, stretching from SoHo to Chelsea. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
320 West 21 Street. Grades K--5.
What's special: An indoor swimming pool.
Downside: Very small gym.
Reading scores:4 stars
Math scores:5 stars
Arts-infused academics, a swimming pool, a gifted program, and classes that integrate children with special needs and general education students are only some of the features of PS 11. The school, including the eight K-5 TAG (Talented & Gifted) classes, also benefits from a student population that reflects the ethnic and economic diversity of the surrounding, rapidly-gentrifying Chelsea neighborhood. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
490 Hudson Street. Grades K--5.
What's special: School encourages creativity
Downside: No formal gym or auditorium
Reading scores:3 stars
Math scores:4 stars
PS 3 was founded in 1971 by parents seeking an alternative to what was then the very traditional education offered by PS 41, a school nearby. It is a haven for some very capable teachers who are put off by what they see as a cookie-cutter approach to education and who want to put their own imprint on their classes. Classes at PS 3 mix different ages and abilities, and children generally stay with the same teacher for two years. Every classroom looks different, and the personalities of both the teacher and the children are apparent in how the rooms are decorated. Many teachers welcome parents to help out in their children's classrooms, and parents often linger to talk with teachers or other parents in the parents' lounge. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
Insideschools.org. All Rights Reserved.
  • Middle schools
  • Insideschools.org
320 West 21 Street. Grades 6--8.
What's special: Strong arts program
Downside: 5th floor walk up; basic facilities
Reading scores:5 stars
Math scores:5 stars
The Clinton School for Writers and Artists is a tiny middle school where children may put on their own musical theater production, study ballroom dancing, or create art projects with students from the School of Visual Arts. Some kids even travel to Sardinia on a 10-day exchange program to study art and Italian. Many Clinton graduates perhaps 20% to 25% are admitted to the highly selective LaGuardia High School of Music, Arts and Performing Arts. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
490 Hudson Street. Grades 6--8.
What's special: Emphasis on activism and community.
Downside: No library; labs are bare-bones.
Reading scores:5 stars
Math scores:5 stars
Greenwich Village Middle School is known as a small and nurturing community that emphasizes cooperation and social activism. The school is situated on the top floor of a 106-year-old building that was covered in scaffolding at the time of our visit while façade repairs were being made. An elementary school, PS 3, occupies the rest of the building. The small quarters of the middle school help create the intimacy and focus on the individual child that are hallmarks of the school, and Kelly McGuire, principal since fall 2006, is committed to maintaining these qualities along with the cooperative spirit of the faculty. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
33 West 17 Street. Grades 6--12.
What's special: Inspired teaching and imaginative projects keep kids interested.
Downside: Drab building; crowded classes.
Reading scores:4 stars
Math scores:5 stars
New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies is based on the notion that kids learn best in groups hence the name collaborative studies. This combined middle and high school is a pioneer in special education inclusion, and many of the classes include students who have special needs in general education classes. Lab is one of the most sought-after schools in the city, and its consistently high test scores and graduation rates attest to its success. It has an informal feel; teachers don't make a fuss about kids wearing hats, for example, and students are permitted to leave the building for lunch. There is pleasant give and take between the teachers and students. Most classes are taught in a seminar style, with lots of class discussion. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
Insideschools.org. All Rights Reserved.
  • High schools
  • Insideschools.org
225 West 24 Street. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Fashion career training mixed with strong academics.
Downside:Old electrical wiring inadequate to meet computer demands; very low male enrollment.
Situated, appropriately, in Manhattan's bustling garment district, Fashion Industries High School offers its students three majors from the world of fashion: fashion design, merchandising, and art illustration. Standard factory sewing machines and mannequins are the training tools for design students, while merchandising majors get hands-on experience buying and selling in a school boutique. Even though they are being trained for jobs in a glittery industry, all the students are taught that success demands elbow grease. "It's not easy. There's a lot of work," says Sandra Manning, a teacher. "It involves math, history, and science. It's not all glamour. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
351 West 18 Street. Grades 9--12.
Manhattan Business Academy began as the International School of Business, a program created in 2004 when Bayard Rustin High School split up its 1,500-student population into four small "learning communities" in an effort to better student achievement and improve attendance. The Manhattan Business Academy will open as a school in September 2009 with a new class of 9th graders and will grow to become a 9-12th grade school in the building. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
333 West 17 Street. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Chance to study at city's greatest museums.
Downside: Building is gloomy.
The NYC Museum School, where students spend one day a week at museums and other cultural institutions, has a good record for taking in kids whose academic skills are less-than-stellar and graduating them on time. In one recent year, two-thirds of the entering class was reading below grade level. Yet 92 percent of students graduate on time, and the majority go on to four-year colleges. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
34 West 14 Street. Grades 10--12.
What's special: An energetic and caring principal
Downside: Growing class sizes and student body
Established in 1993 as an alternative high school modeled on the Coalition of Essential Schools program, Legacy has since tried to preserve the advantages of a small school while adopting traditional methods and classes. With growing budgetary and testing pressures, the school has recently increased class size and moved to a curriculum that places more emphasis on preparation for Regents tests. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
351 West 18 Street. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Large school is being reorganized into small learning communities.
Downside: Poor attendance, especially on Fridays.
Bayard Rustin High School will close due to poor performance, graduating its last class in June 2012. A statement issued by the Department of Education cited the school's low graduation rate, the F on its latest report card, and low student interest in attending the school as factors in its phase-out. According to the statement, at least one new small high school will open in the building in 2009. Two other small high schools, Humanities Prep and the James Baldwin School, are already housed in the building. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
351 West 18 Street. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Small progressive school that welcomes both 9th graders and transfer students; consistent leadership.
Downside: Few after-school activities; spotty attendance.
Humanities Prep, a small progressive school housed in the Bayard Rustin High School campus in Chelsea, welcomes both 14-year-old 9th graders and older teenagers who have been truant or failed in more traditional settings. Founded as a program in Bayard Rustin, it became a school in its own right in 1997 and has grown so successful that virtually all of its graduates go on to four-year colleges. It has frequent visitors from around the country eager to see an alternative model that works. In September 2005, a group of Humanities Prep teachers and students cloned the idea and began their own sister school just down the hall: the James Baldwin School. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
351 West 18 Street. Grades 9--12.
What's special: A clone of the popular alternative school, Humanities Prep
Downside: Building needs repair
The James Baldwin School seeks to replicate Humanities Preparatory Academy, a small and popular alternative school that successfully prepares students for 4-year colleges. Like Humanities Prep, Baldwin is designed to serve both students who just graduated from 8th grade and older transfer students, many of whom have had difficulty elsewhere. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
250 West 18 Street. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Small school for new immigrant students
Downside: No auditorium or gym
Liberty High School, in the heart of Chelsea, opens its doors to young immigrants from all over the world, offering a small school setting to newcomers learning English and adjusting to life in a new country. The school was launched in 1986 as a one-year transition program for new immigrants, age 14 to 20, before they moved on to traditional American high schools. That changed in 2003, when Liberty became a four-year high school in its own right, granting diplomas and accepting mostly younger students who have an 8th grade education from their native countries. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
250 West Houston Street. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Haven for disaffected youth.
Downside: Access to gym is limited and the elderly building has cramped quarters.
Since 1972, City-as-School has been a haven for kids who are alienated by traditional classrooms. Students who could not thrive at their original schools including rebels, openly gay kids, kids who have been teased for their looks, and a good number of disaffected academic achievers find a welcome here. What's different, though, is the use of internships, which are City-as-School's core. All students spend a major part of the week out of the classroom and in museums, botanic gardens, local newspapers, corporations, art studios, zoos, city offices, theaters, hospitals, schools, and other venues to learn by engaging in real work. As its name implies, the city itself is the classroom. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
Insideschools.org. All Rights Reserved.

Comments

0 comments