Neighborhood Profile: Union Square

 by Samantha Plotner

Looking to get out of Morningside?

If you are looking to explore downtown, Union Square is an excellent place to start. Aside from its own attractions it is also adjacent to Chelsea, SoHo, Gramercy, and Flatiron. But for pure density of options, it’s hard to beat Union Square.

How to get there
Take the 1 to Times Square then take the N,Q or R to 14th Street/Union Square.

What to do
If you’re broke Union Square has minimal appeal, the main attractions are shopping and restaurants.

Shopping

Nordstrom Rack: Have designer taste without a designer budget? Meet your new favorite store. Though it can take digging there are awesome deals to be found. Don’t miss the shoe section and there is always a large selection of marked down designer jeans. It also has surprisingly good deals on bras, and if you look careful maybe a formal dress.
Journelle: have money to burn and want to treat yourself to something silky? Lingerie boutique Journelle is for you. With plush dressing rooms and a friendly staff it’s a great place whatever your undergarment needs.
Strand: New York’s most famous independent bookstore is a treasure trove of new and used books. It is also a great place to buy gifts and not just of the book variety. The Rare Book section on the 3rd floor is a must see.
Barnes & Noble: Aside from its size what sets this Barnes and Noble apart from others in the city is the authors who go there for readings and signings. Especially for big names be sure to get there early to ensure a seat. Purchasing the book maybe be required but it can be worth it.
Other options: Sephora, Lululemon, American Eagle, Forever 21, DSW and a brand new Burlington.

Also, check out our profiles of some nearby thrift stores.

Food

Greenmarket

Greenmarket: Sundays bring a huge Greenmarket that’s worth the subway ride. If you want to get your grocery shopping done is one trip there is a trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Food Emporium all nearby.
Laut: This low key Thai restaurant gives Morningside favorite Thai Market a run for its money and is a great date night spot.
Vapiano’s: This Italian restaurant/bar and lounge makes a great quick dinner or start to a nit out. The food is good (and reasonably priced) but during peak evening hours finding a seat can prove challenging.
Blue Water Grill: Need a fancy restaurant? This makes for a great option. The menu is seafood heavy (though non-fish eaters can certainly find alternatives) and the desserts are superb.
The Coffee Shop: Have a little too much fun last night? With its dim lighting and carb heavy brunch menu it makes for a delicious (if slightly overpriced) morning after brunch.
Think Coffee: This independent coffee shop values ethical and environmentally friendly practices. If you can find a seat it is a lovely spot for a chat with friends or for studying.
Union Square Wine: A step up from International the wide selection of wine is a worthwhile stop for the 21+ set if you’re in the neighborhood.
Other food options: Pret, Cosi, Au Bon Pain, and Panera

Samantha Plotner is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Fun & Cheap, Union Square Shop, and Bodega Chronicles.

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