The West Village: Bohemian Past, Lofty Prices

The West Village of Manhattan is a place “where the streets are so tiny, so isolated from the hubbub of the rest of the city, they have managed to stay trapped in a time warp,” said Barry Benepe, an architect and urban planner who has rented an apartment on Jane Street since 1971 and was a founder of the city’s Greenmarket movement in 1976. Landmark designations have helped to maintain the human scale, he said. About 80 percent of the West Village has landmark status, said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

The timeless tranquillity is pierced, however, by crowds of visitors inspired by television shows filmed in the neighborhood. Foreign tourists asking for directions “can say ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Friends,’ even if they can barely speak English,” said Pat Gross, a resident. Some complain about the intrusion, but Ms. Gross, who has lived in a two-bedroom condominium on Avenue of the Americas for 31 years, likes the activity. “It gives you a chance to meet people from all over the world,” she said.

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