The outer edges of Greenwich Village, known as the far West Village, were as recently as a decade ago a deserted, inhospitable area, the streets buffeted by cold winds off the Hudson River in winter, and visited by the spill-over of transvestite hookers from the neighboring Meatpacking District. The wholesale butchers and prostitutes are gone, and the only thing being slaughtered there these days are fashion victims by the prices of designer clothes by the likes of Stella McCartney and the late Alexander McQueen, whose shops along these cobblestoned roads have supplanted the warehouses.
This fashion mecca has spread to the more intimate Bleecker Street, turning the first few blocks of the north end of this central roadway from Bank Street to Christopher Street into a miniature Madison Avenue, lined with boutiques belonging to Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Lulu Guinness, Cynthia Rowley, and Coach.
The street has become a destination for the well-heeled on weekends, who when they need a sugar pick-me-up, head to Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker St; tel: 212-462-2572), a cupcake shop made famous by its appearance on Sex and the City, which triggered the national cupcake craze. There’s usually a line up to a block long to get in, even late at night, but most say it’s worth the wait for the icing-laden cupcakes and old-fashioned desserts like banana cream pie and ice-box cake.
While most of the stores along this high-end shopping corridor are luxury clothes retailers, there is the occasional good-value gem, like the small optical chain See which sells imaginative frames and lenses at low prices that can be ready for pick-up in a few days.