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The Rise of the Microneighborhood

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The Balkanization of Bleecker Street
A tour of three microneighborhoods on one street.

1. Boutiqueria
Magnolia Bakery started it off, and now deluxe fashion boutiques line these four blocks, including Cynthia Rowley, Intermix, and a his-and-hers pair of Ralph Laurens. Holdouts from the past—antiques stores and the Biography Bookshop—remain only by dint of cheap, long leases or benevolent landlords who aren’t hiking the rent. Between Charles and West 10th, a lone bodega hangs on for dear life.

2. Foodie Court
A gourmand’s paradise has emerged at Cornelia and Bleecker. Murray’s Cheese shop crossed the street, setting up an upscale place fronted with ceiling-to-roof glass and new cheese-aging caves. Now a Wild Edibles seafood market has moved in next door, and an Amy’s Bread bakery is set to open. There is talk of wooing a suitably refined purveyor of precious fruits and vegetables, to round out the high-end food-court effect.

3. The Graying Sex Zone
The blocks in and around Christopher Street are a time capsule, the last vestige of the old, eclectic Village of the seventies. But they also form a cultural border: The chichi fashion strip on Bleecker ends at Christopher, since boutiques prefer not to be next to sex shops with family-size pumps of ID lube. Past Christopher, Bleecker reverts into a more normal New York jumble of dollar stores, restaurants, and jewelry shops.


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