This nabe centers around its namesake pedestrian plaza and park, Union Square. Every day, Union Square Park brings people together from all over the city. Artists set up their crafts and musicians perform next to the huge subway station. Down a few steps is the wonderful Union Square farmers market. All around the square are offices, hotels, businesses and the Empire State Building peaking out above the skyline. A combination of college students, professionals, and performance artists take advantage of this lively, central and iconic NY nabe.
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Young at Heart, and in looks
Definitely a place young at heart and in looks. Union Square factors like a piece of glue combining Chelsea and Flatiron from the north, Greenwich Village from the south, and Gramercy from the East. The result is a tree-lined pavement park that regularly hosts a busy farmers’ market as well as impromptu pop-up shops by local artists and young designers.
For those looking for a good meal, dining options run the gamut of commercial and cheap (McDonald’s and not one but TWO Starbucks on opposite ends of the park) to the hip and the original (Blue Water Grill and Maoz are a couple of faves!).
For shoppers who want to avoid the stereotypical tourist crowds in Midtown andTimes Square, Union Square offers a host of big-name retail and discount chains (Forever 21, Filene’s Basement, Barnes and Nobles) as well as some more upscale brands and boutique functions (True Religion).
For those who want to shape up that six-pack or at least feel like they’re attempting to be healthy after work, Crunch Fitness and the Jivamukti Yoga center both maintain a base camp right near the Square (and afterwards, you continue the fitness session with a power walk around the park!).
And for those who just want a great place to let their guard down after the 5PM closing bell or who seek a great outdoors place to sit with friends and shoot the breeze after classes, it doesn’t get much better than a bench at Union. It’s especially a fantastic place for younguns’ due to the proximity of nearby colleges –NYU, The New School, the New York Film Academy, and Eugene Lang College are all in the neighborhood.
Trendyness on Display
A refuge of the young, Union Square, uniquely, serves as a place of convention for both starving artists and future CEOs. On a sunny day it serves as an ideal location for political demonstrations, film exhibition, or simply al fresco lunching. At night, the stairs of Union Square Park will be blanketed with street performers, skate boarders, and the trendy of all ages. This diverse crowd makes Union Square unparalleled as a place to both see and be seen, a quality that makes it an ideal destination for maximum entertainment with minimum expenditure. For those who have a bit more capital at their disposal, the area is also brimming with chic eateries, high end bars, and nightlife. These destinations are primarily frequented by the up and comers of the business and financial sectors who, unlike the artists, can afford the pricey rent of Union Square lodging. The average age jumps a couple years on the weekends as the organic-only thirty-somethings flood the park for the weekly “Greenmarket” where they stock up on locally grown produce and goods. On the whole, this area can be lauded (or derided) for being the commercial epicenter of all things trendy.
Union Square is a popular nabe for a younger crowd, but there are still families around this area.
There is always something to do in Union Square, whether you hit up the huge cinema, grab a drink at Heartland brewery, or grab a late night bite at the Coffee Shop – open late with a club downstairs on weekends.
When passing by the Square you’ll spot street performers, skateboarders, street-sellers and a real funky crowd. And the fun is not limited to the day; nighttime in Union Square is just as busy.What's awesome
lots to do, filled with people, funky crowdWhat's not so awesome
may be too quirky for some
Love Union Square
Union Square has been one of my favorite neighborhoods for many years.
It is located where Broadway and the former Bowery Road – now 4th
Avenue came together.
The name Union Square comes from the idea that here was the union of
the two main streets of the island. Today it is bounded by 14th
Street to the south, Union Square West on the west side, 17th Street
on the north, and on the east Union Square East, which links together
Broadway and Park Avenue South to Fourth Avenue and the continuation
In 1815, by act of the state legislature, this former potter’s field
became a public commons for the city, at first named Union Place.
In the center of Union Square is a small park designed in the 1870’s
by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also
masterminded Central Park. In the park is a well known and well loved
dog run and the Green market where many chefs of the city shop as well
as many New Yorkers such as myself.
In 1985, the south end of the park was expanded to include a wide
concrete set of stairs. In 2002, further renovations added space on
the southwest corner, where artists, musicians and activists now
Union Square was named a National Historic Landmark in 1997, primarily
to honor it as the site of the first Labor Day parade.
The park is also home to the Union Square holiday Market.
In March 2008, an 18-month renovation began on the northern end of the
park. Proponents of the plan describe it as the completion of a
renovation of Union Square Park that began in the mid-1980s that will
improve the park by increasing the amount and quality of playground
space, improving the quality and function of the public plaza,
rehabilitating the badly deteriorating bandshell structure, and improving
the working conditions for park employees.
During the renovation the Green Market was temporarily relocated to
the west side of the park, returning to the north end as of April 4,
The Park has historically been a gathering point for political
protests and expression. In the days and weeks after Sept 11th the WTC
attacks it became a gathering point for the city residents (because
Ground Zero was blocked off to the public) with protests , memorials
people looking for lost loved ones many of whom perished in
the WTC and some who were later found at area hospitals. I have some
powerful pictures of that time after Sept 11th in storage and hope to
get them out for the 10th anniversary of 911.
The Communist Party headquartered itself in a tall building at the
north end of the Square. These days New Yorker’s unite in the same
space, now home to a Barnes and Nobles which has 4 floors and is a
popular place for New Yorkers to meet. Barnes & Noble’s Upstairs at
the Square event series pairs writers with musicians for an evening of
words and music. According to Barnes and Nobles web site the Union
Square store is the flag ship store of Manhattan.
I used to baby sit for the city’s hotels and I got to see what most
New Yorkers do not see which are the rooms of most of the hotels of
NYC. One of my favorites is the W Union Square. Todd English’s
restaurant Olives is inside the W Union Square as well as the living
room lounge popular with New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Union Square is home to several popular restaurants. They are Blue
Water Grill, Union Square cafe, and Olives. There were several others
that unfortunately closed such as AZ ( owner Patrica Yeo ) which was
one of my favorite spots in the city but the space isn’t wasted it is
now home to BLT Fish.
But Union Square was also home to the original Zen Palate and Candle
Cafe both vegetarian restaurants that have now been taken over by
dreaded chains. Both restaurants were frequented by not only
vegetarians but also meat eaters who were looking for a little Zen in
a busy chaotic city. I am doing this review now because with the 2
chains restaurants I see the neighborhood changing and I want to
capture the unique aspects of it before it becomes like any town USA like
so many New York neighborhoods have since 911.
Union Square is also home to the original Oasis Day Spa which I used
to frequent as a customer and then as an employee.
Beth Israel medical center is in Union Square and it is where I go for
my mammograms and biopsy’s as well as breast surgery for breast
cancer. They have a breast health center that they call “the
comprehensive breast service.”
It is a great location for the medical center. There is so much to
do for the families of patients waiting for them to get out of
The other popular L Train stop besides Bedford Ave.
Union Square is where I used to spend my days before I turned 21. There is always something going on there: Flee Market, Protest, Punks Skateboarding, People Playing Soccer, Music etc. If you’re not into all that, it’s still a good place to just sit down and relax with a friend. There’s also a number of trains that stop there so it’s a great place to meet up. Union Square is also near NYU so there’s this youthfulness that comes along with it. There’s also a number of places to shop and dine around there. On a good summer night, Union Square will still be as lively at 2am as it was at 2pm so it’s a good place to check out when you just left the bars and want to eat your 2bros pizza. The only thing I dislike about Union Square is that they got rid of the Virgin Megastore that was there. One could spend countless hours just listening to music, reading books, or finding cheap movies. Overall, it’s a good place to hang out if you’re broke.