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Places We Love: That Shopable Block, East 9th Street

Today we introduce a new feature, Places We Love, focusing on architectural and cultural favorites that local folks feel are worth preserving, particularly in the East Village. If you have one you want to talk about, write to kloew@gvshp.org.

Cooper Union senior Isha Patel on East 9th Street, a favorite place.
Cooper Union senior Isha Patel on East 9th Street, a favorite place.

“Although I don’t know where my career will take me, I would like to live in Manhattan,” says Cooper Union student Isha Patel, who was born in Queens and commutes in to school from her home in New Hyde Park, Long Island. “I’m definitely more of a downtown girl and I really love the Village, but I also love exploring new places so I can’t really say exactly where I see myself ending up.”

Exploring the neighborhood is how she came to enjoy East 9th Street between First and Second Avenues, that extremely browsable block (along with its sister stretch between First and Avenue A).  Patel, 21, is a senior at Cooper, majoring in civil engineering. After graduation this spring, she hopes to get a masters degree in urban planning and eventually go on to work in the field of urban revitalization.

Here’s what she says about her favorite place:

“In the East Village, it’s easy to walk around, and not get annoyed with crowds and people getting in your way. I have a bunch of friends that live in Stuy Town, so just walking from there to school, you take different routes, find new places. Also I’m a big shopper, so if I walk down the street and there’s a lot of stores, I will make sure to come back and visit those stores.

“The first thing I bought from somewhere on this block was this chocolate, and it was a store that sold raincoats and umbrellas and then they had a wall of candy. And it turned out, it was awful. It tasted really bad. But somehow people like it. It was lavender flavored with sea salt, it was interesting.

Isha Patel - 9th St
The scene on East 9th Street between First and Second Avenues.

“This block is very traditional, I think. It’s very classic East Village in the sense that they’re low-rise buildings, brick facades and tree-lined. The architecture is different for each building, but somehow it works. It’s the East Village, and people do random things, there are random stores, random places. You have a store where you have to pay $200 for a shirt, and next to it you have a thrift shop where you get something for really cheap. I like that a lot.

“Today when I came here I walked into that vintage shop, and [the shopkeeper] was like the cutest person. She was like, ‘Oh my god, you’re so tiny, you’re the cutest thing.’ Some other people behind me were like, do you have any weird hats? She was like, ‘Huh. I don’t know, I’ll take a look.’ She spent 20 minutes trying to find a hat that worked for them.

“I feel like every time I walk down here, a new boutique has opened up. Maybe I just don’t notice them, all of them, every time, but I feel like there’s always something new popping up. And it’s nice, because when people come to New York, they tend to go shopping on Broadway in Soho, or on Fifth Avenue, but I feel like if I’m going to take someone shopping, this would be the kind of thing I’d want to show them about New York. Maybe it’s because I spend most of my time downtown, so maybe this is more what the city is defined as, for me.”

Isha Patel 2
Outside of Mud, an essential stop on the block.  Photos by Karen Loew.

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