Marking the boundary between the official NYU campus (which on the surface is indistinguishable from the other parts of city, save for the purple flags) and the rest of the village, Broadway is as lively here as in any other part of the city. Houston Street, with its raucous crowds of shoppers sits just south of this stretch while Astor Place, with its mixture of dessert trucks and artists sits just to the north. Combine these two groups with the students from New York University and you have a veritable stew of different personalities all with different intentions while walking along this block. Some are visiting from out-of-town. Some are making their way to St. Marks Place. Some are trying to move out of their housing before Summer term begins. And still, some are simply cutting through to the R or W train (well, that is up until last Friday – since the W is no more).
This is one of the rare moments when the mixture of commercialization feels like it's struck a comfortable balance – for the time being. Old standbys like Shakespeare and Co. and Amalgamated Bank share space with relative newcomers like American Apparel. Of course McDonald's stakes a claim here, along with the Cozy Soup & Burger diner across the streets (the only time I went in they had a high minimum order which caused me to immediately leave).
Eventually you'll approach Astor Pl (the street, not the square) – This is the first interruption on the east side of Broadwat since 4th Street, where this posts starts. Neither Washington Pl nor Waverly Pl are able to cut through to 5th or 6th Streets and 7th Street doesn't even have an equivalent in NYU territory. These resulting oversized blocks which sit between Broadway, Lafayette and Cooper Square seem to be random quirks of the grid system. Why they even bothered to have Astor Place cut across to 3rd Ave when 8th Street is so close by is beyond me.