Merce Cunningham Studio
55 Bethune St.
Keeping with its artistic tradition, the West Village played a key role in the development of the modern dance scene. The legendary dancer, choreographer, and innovator Merce Cunningham established his famous studio on the 11th floor of the Westbeth building in 1971. Although the studio recently closed following Cunningham’s death, the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance took over the space and now offers classes in this historic location. Thanks to the Merce Cunningham Trust, interested dancers can still study his technique through the Merce Cunningham Archive at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and through classes, which are held at the New York City Center, Dance New Amsterdam, and The School at the Mark Morris Dance Center. If you’re in the West Village, stop by and see where it all began.
172 W. Fourth St.
Find the latest chic clothes straight from the streets of Paris in this enchanting boutique. With collections from incredible European designers and labels—including Vanessa Bruno, Carven, Giada Forte, and Maison Michel (whose director designs accessories and jewelry for Chanel)—Ludivine falls on the pricier side, but its timeless pieces will never go out of style. From whimsical dresses to fantastic accessories, Ludivine offers shoppers the chance to transplant that effortless Parisian look right here to the streets of New York. And while you’re in shopping mode, take a stroll past Diane von Fürstenberg, Marc Jacobs, and Christian Louboutin, if only to gaze dreamily at their artistic creations.
Jefferson Market Library
425 Sixth Ave.
Built between 1875-1877, this New York landmark initially served as a courthouse and hosted many famous trials. Despite its rich history, the building was eventually abandoned and nearly demolished before a group of locals—including the distinguished poet, E.E. Cummings—organized to protect the exquisitely designed structure. Now a branch of the New York Public Library, this institution’s magnificent exterior and captivating past make it a worthwhile stop on any West Village exploration.