The Batteries Not Included* building on East 8th Street

The East Village wasn't always called that, it was simply part of the Lower East Side until the mid-1960s. At that time the area began changing, with artists getting priced out of Greenwich Village and moving into the area, which was mostly populated by working class immigrants. This change came with a rebranding, and the new name was popularized by real estate agents and newcomers. And with that, a wave of gentrification created the East Village—a neighborhood that was never officially dubbed that, nor one that has official borders.

In the 1964 guide "Earl Wilson's New York" the author declares that "artists, poets and promoters of coffeehouses from Greenwich Village are trying to remelt the neighborhood under the high-sounding name of 'East Village.'" Around the same time, The NY Times began using the name, and in 1964 reported that the affluent were taking over the area—"When artists and writers be­gan in 1960 to move into tene­ment housing in what is now called the East Village, the older residents of the Lower East Side greeted them as they had all previous invaders: They fought back. Today, these artists, along with the Poles, Ukrainians, Jews, Negroes and Puerto Ric­ans who occupied the area be­fore them, face a new invasion... The uptown rich." And so it goes.

The neighborhood also got its own publications, among them was The East Village Other, which debuted in 1966 (not to be confused with the The Other Paper). While the moniker existed in everyday life, it was never named the East Village in any official way—in the 1990s, The NY Times reported it "was never formally bestowed on the area," but a spokesman for the city's Department of City Planning told them that "while the East Village is not listed as such in city zoning maps, the term has been recognized by City Planning officials for about 25, 30 years."

To match its unofficial name, the area also has ambiguous borders. Technically, the East Village doesn't have any official borders—no city expert or agency we reached out to would give us an answer regarding this, most noting there aren't any official border lines for any NYC neighborhoods. Kate Cordes at the NYPL told us, "Neighborhoods are just crowdsourced knowledge and boundaries are unofficial."

However, Cordes referred us to a city planning proposal from 1969 which states that: "The East Village lies between East 14th Street and Houston Street from the Bowery and Fourth Avenue to the East River."

We ventured over to Tompkins Square Park recently to ask people on the street to highlight what they believed the borders to be (watch that video here, or at the end of this post)—below, a couple of them talk about the old days:

N.B. Alphabet City (a neighborhood within the neighborhood) wasn't a name that came to be until the 1980s, according to urban historian Peter G. Rowe, and it first turned up in the NY Times in 1984, in an editorial by then mayor Ed Koch about crime in the area.

Update: Here is what happened when we asked people in the East Village to highlight the borders of the neighborhood: