Neighborhood Guides

Nolita Neighborhood Guide: The Vibrant Heart of New York

Written by Aurélie Roman

Soho’s close neighbor Nolita, named for its location North of Little Italy, is a small village in downtown Manhattan. After an influx of yuppies in the 80s-90s, the population remains young and trendy. However, it also gives off a relaxed vibe with its cool boutiques, cozy red-brick restaurants, urban art and murals.

  • A little history

Formerly an integral part of Little Italy, Nolita owes its perennially warm atmosphere to the large number of Italian immigrants who once lived there. In the 1970s, underground artists moved in, attracted by the cheap rents. All of that quickly changed with the arrival of Wall Street’s ‘yuppie’ in the ’80s. The resulting blend of lifestyles and attitudes played a central role in creating the Nolita we know and love today. Against this colorful urban backdrop, independent designers soon moved into the neighborhood, making it a fashion hotspot.

  • A high-potential neighborhood

With a personality that is unique, trendy and authentic all at once, Nolita has been attracting a record number of tourists looking for a different kind of New York experience. The 6,800 inhabitants include celebrities such as Moby and Gabriel Byrne, plus David Bowie was a long-time resident. Professionals and artists continue to live here, but they must now share sidewalks with tourists, thanks to an ever-increasing number of boutique hotels and tourist accommodations. Side-by-side with concept stores and vintage boutiques, designers have opened their flagship stores. Everlane, one of fashion’s pure players and a favorite of influencers and celebrities alike, hardly needs a physical presence at a time of record-breaking online sales. And yet, the brand’s creator, Michael Preysman, has said that a Nolita boutique “was essential to developing the brand.” This is the place to be! The success of Arjé’s pop-up store in Nolita in April 2018 established the pop-up format as an integral part of the unique shopping experience here. Their collection sold out in just a few days and the resulting buzz caught the attention of fashion giant Selfridges, who offered them floor space to set up the hard shop-in-shop called “Arjé Pied à Terre.”

  • It’s such a perfect day: in Nolita

9 am: Nolita still has the unmistakable scent of its Italian history. It’s the smell of espresso that takes us to Gimme! Coffee, where you can enjoy a freshly made espresso or latte to order.

Gimme! Coffee, 228 Mott St.

10 am: We then head to the Storefront (great name!) for Art and Architecture and its exhibition of contemporary art. The gallery explores the intersections between art, architecture and design.

Storefront for Art and Architecture, 97 Kenmare St.

11 am: Next up is a visit to see what’s new at Condor. The owner, Loriann Smoak, visits 20 countries each year in search of new designers. A rigorous and always astonishing selection.

Condor, 52 Kenmare St.

12 pm: It’s time for lunch at La Esquina, a very stylish underground brasserie. Check out the specialties of this taqueria: chorizo empanadas and quesadilla de huitlacoche.

La Esquina, 114 Kenmare St.

2 pm: Next is a visit of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a historical monument in the neighborhood it has protected since 1815. Candlelight visits of the catacombs are organized on a daily basis.

Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 263 Mulberry St.

4 pm: We are now ready to indulge in one of the city’s best cheesecakes, at Eileen’s Special Cheesecake.

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, 17 Cleveland Pl.

5 pm: Wandering through the narrow alleys, we come across some stunning examples of urban art murals. A current favorite is located between Broome and Mulberry.

7 pm: We end our tour by sipping on a Ginger Yumyum at Botanica, whose DJ mixes, shabby chic booths and laughing locals all make it the perfect example of what Nolita is all about.

Botanica, 47 E. Houston St.

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About the author

Aurélie Roman

Contributrice Storefront - Journaliste lifestyle & décoration (Les Inrocks, Houzz, Elle, Deco, Figaro Madame) et spécialiste contenu depuis 2007 - Tv Host