The High Line connects the historic district to the nearby neighborhoods of Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and Hudson Yards. The elevated train tracks, mostly running parallel to Tenth Avenue, have been converted to an open greenway. The tracks once served the businesses in the area, but have been long abandoned and converted into a popular public park.
The neighborhood is distinguished by streets that are "off the grid" — set at an angle to the other streets in Manhattan — sometimes confusing both tourists and city residents alike. These roads were laid out in an 18th-century grid plan, approximately parallel or perpendicular to the Hudson, long before the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 which created the main street grid plan for later parts of the city. Even streets that were given numbers in the 19th century to make them nominally part of the grid can be idiosyncratic, at best. West 4th Street, formerly Asylum Street, crosses West 10th, 11th and 12th Streets, ending at an intersection with West 13th Street. Heading north on Greenwich Street, West 12th Street is separated by three blocks from Little West 12th Street, which in turn is one block south of West 13th Street. Further, some of the smaller east-west residential streets are paved with setts (often confused with cobblestones), particularly in Far West Village and the Meatpacking District.
The Meatpacking District at the north end of this neighborhood, also known as the "Gansevoort Historic District" is filled with trendy boutiques and nightclubs. It is also the area's most concentrated site of grand larceny. In February 2013 the NYPD passed out 3,500 fliers to bars and clubs in the Sixth Precinct warning people to guard their valuables, especially at district's clubs, due to the rise in grand larceny rates. Police have said these crimes mosty happen in the Meatpacking District from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Grand larceny in New York refers to stealing property worth $1,000 or more or property taken from the person of another without the threat of force (robbery), among other definitions. In the summer of 2012, a female went to three clothing stores in the West Village. At each store, she went into the dressing room and cut off the security tags of clothing worth more than $1,000. Another example of grand larceny is when a person attempts to take a person's unattended bag from a bar as these belongings usually include debit and credit cards and cell phones.
Beginning in the early 1980s, residential development spread in the Far West Village, between the Hudson River and Hudson Street from West Houston to West 14th Streets, resulting in the area being given its own name.
Historically, local residents and preservation groups have been concerned about development in the Village and have fought to preserve the architectural and historic integrity of the neighborhood. In 1969, the four-year-old New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Greenwich Village Historic District — for four decades, the city’s largest — despite preservationists’ advocacy for the entire neighborhood to be designated an historic district. Although it covers most of the West Village, the blocks closest to the Hudson River are excluded.
Advocates continued to pursue their goal of additional designation, spurred in particular by the increased pace of development in the 1990s. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the architectural and cultural character and heritage of the neighborhood, successfully proposed new districts and individual landmarks to the LPC. Those include:
Gansevoort Market Historic District was the first new historic district in Greenwich Village in 34 years. The 112 buildings on 11 blocks protect the city’s distinctive Meatpacking District with its cobblestone streets, warehouses and rowhouses. About 70 percent of the area proposed by GVSHP in 2000 was designated a historic district by the LPC in 2003, while the entire area was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2007.
Weehawken Street Historic District, designated in 2006, is a 14-building, three-block district near the Hudson River centering around tiny Weehawken Street and containing an array of architecture including a sailor’s hotel, former stables, and a wooden house.
Greenwich Village Historic District Extension I, designated in 2006, brought 46 more buildings on three blocks into the district, thus protecting warehouses, a former public school and police station, and early 19th century rowhouses. Both the Weehawken Street Historic District and the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension I were designated by the LPC in response to the larger proposal for a Far West Village Historic District submitted by GVSHP in 2004. The Landmarks Preservation Commission also designated as landmarks several individual sites proposed by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, including the former Bell Telephone Labs Complex (1861-1933), now Westbeth Artists Community, designated in 2011; and houses at 159 Charles Street and 354 W. 11th Street, as well as the Keller Hotel, all in 2007.
In addition, several contextual rezonings were enacted in Greenwich Village in recent years to limit the size and height of allowable new development in the neighborhood, and to encourage the preservation of existing buildings. The following were proposed by the GVSHP and passed by the City Planning Commission:
Far West Village Rezoning, approved in 2005, was the first downzoning in Manhattan in many years, putting in place new height caps, thus ending construction of high-rise waterfront towers in much of the Village and encouraging the reuse of existing buildings.
Washington and Greenwich Street Rezoning, approved in 2010, was passed in near-record time to protect six blocks from out-of-scale hotel development and maintain the low-rise character.
The approximate residential population in the West Village is 34,000 people based on seven 2010 Census Tracts for Manhattan Community District 2. The following are some population characteristics:
Fewer kids. 10% of the population in the West Village is less than 20 years old (27% of population of entire US is less than 20 years old)
More 20-39 year olds. 45% of the population in the West Village is 20–39 years old (versus 27% in entire US)
More women. Females aged 20–39 make up 25% of the population in the West Village (13% of population in entire US) Females aged 20–29 make up 14% of the population in the West Village versus 7% in the entire US. Females in West Village represent 52% of the population versus 51% in all of the US.
More foreign-born. 80% of the population was born in the US (87% in entire US)
More money. Average household income by census tract was $180,000 (compared to $51,000 average household income by state for entire US)
A NYU study estimates 1,610,000 workers commute to Manhattan during the workweek, and the West Village is the destination for 8,000 of these commuters.
About 13,000 out-of-town visitors also visit the neighborhood daily. A portion of these approximately 139,452 domestic and international visitors that enter the city daily visit or stay in the West Village; an average of 11,000 people visit the High Line everyday.
The average number of people who visit the West Village from these three demographics is 55,000 people daily.
Community Board 2 (CB2) deals with land use and zoning matters, municipal service delivery and community concerns of an area including the West Village. New York City's Community Boards review data collected by the 311 Customer Service Center. 3-1-1 is a non-emergency telephone number, and New York City releases monthly reports on the number of requests for services to 311. In April 2013 there were 77 non-emergency calls per day, up 8% sequentially and down 2% year-over-year.
There were approximately nine crime complaints per day in the NYPD Sixth Precinct (West Village and area east of Sixth Avenue to Broadway between Houston and 14th Streets) year-to-date as of May 12, 2013 according to NYPD crime data. This data does not include information for other types of police activity, such as the number of radio runs, calls about trespassing, graffiti charges or resisting arrest. There is no public data that bifurcates the crime statistics for the Sixth Precinct into smaller areas. 86% of the total tabulated crime complaints in the Sixth Precinct are related to instances of stealing (robbery, burglary, grand larceny, grand larceny auto, petit larceny) compared to 71% citywide. Excluding cases of petit larceny (such as a person stealing a bottle of shampoo from a drug store), crime increased 5% in 2012.
According to the data:
Year-to-date crime complaints in the Sixth Precinct increased 7.5% year-over-year compared to a -3.5% decrease in citywide crime (as of May 12, 2013).
Crime bottomed in the Sixth Precinct in 2011 after declining steadily for many years. Information from the NYPD indicates total crime complaints in the Sixth Precinct increased approximately 7% in 2012.
In comparison, citywide crime increased by a smaller amount in 2012, up just 3% versus the 7% increase in the Sixth Precinct.
^There is some ambiguity in the boundaries of the Far West Village, due to variations in block-by-block character – some exclude the 3 north-south blocks from Morton Street (north) to Houston Street (south), and some include the 2 blocks from Hudson Street (west) to Bleecker Street (east) between Bank Street (north) and Christopher Street (south).