Grace Is Not Where You Think It Is

Illustration by Juliette Robertson ‘25

NYC neighborhoods are ever-fluctuating. New real estate deals, gentrification, and changes in infrastructure can completely change a neighborhood. In fact, this has caused confusion at Grace about what exact neighborhood we are in. 

Brian Reilly, advisor to The Grace Gazette and teacher to the Lab Studies class “Starting Local: Activism in the Bowery,” points out that “Just a few years ago, our building — and the lower school — were on the Bowery.” 

Those days are long behind us, so where is Grace now? 

When looking at the NYT interactive map, the many names for Grace’s neighborhood pop up. There seem to be three clear front runners. In first place is the East Village with 47% of the votes. After all, Grace is very close to St. Marks, a pillar of the village. On the other hand, 32% of respondents believed that Grace is in Greenwich Village, and 14% said Grace is in NOHO.

Grace Church students, however, have different opinions. In a survey conducted by the Gazette, students were asked to give their input as to what neighborhood the school is in. Almost half of the respondents claimed NOHO was our school’s neighborhood, with the East Village having the second most votes.

Forms response chart. Question title: What Neighborhood is Grace in?. Number of responses: 53 responses.

David Mulkins, president of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, discussed the hard-to-pin-down nature of determining the neighborhood. Mr. Mulkins, who often hosts community events at the high school,  claimed that the high school building is definitely not in the East Village because the line that divides NOHO and the East Village is the Bowery. 

He also said we are most likely in NOHO, although some people do not even consider NOHO a neighborhood. This, Mr. Mulkins theorizes, is because NOHO, by name, is  a neighborhood defined by real estate developers to jack up rent prices. 

Mr. Mulkins himself doesn’t like using the names of these neighborhoods because of the negative impact they have had.

 “Many of the old timers in the area despise the term East Village, which was promoted decades ago by real estate developers hoping to make the above-Houston stretch of the Lower East Side more palatable to buyers. 

“The same is true of the term NoLita (North of Little Italy), which makes some long-time residents want to spit.”

NOHO, as Mr. Mulkins hypothesized, is also one of these neighborhoods. If you refuse to call the neighborhood NOHO due to its less-than-kind origin, we would be in Greenwich Village, according to Mr. Mulkins.  

 Through The Gazette’s survey, Dana Foote, the student and family coordinator at the high school, said that we were in East Village, and in an interview with The Gazette, she stated, “a friend told me that the line that partitions East Village and NOHO is Bowery, not Lafayette.” 

If Ms. Foote’s friend’s theory is true, it would mean that Grace is a part of NOHO. She mentioned that Astor Place was not meant to be a neighborhood but rather an area. Despite the conflict over whether Astor Place qualifies as a neighborhood, more than 20 percent of Grace respondents classified it as its own neighborhood, highlighting the significance of Astor Place to the student and teacher body. 

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you consider Astor Place its own neighborhood . Number of responses: 54 responses.

Ten years from now, Grace’s neighborhood will likely be something completely different from what the NYT, students, and even what Mr. Mulkins thinks. Grace used to be considered as in the Bowery, but now the Bowery has not appeared once on any survey!  In essence, a neighborhood is more about the community of people rather than a specific land border. It is more about the “neighbors” than the “hood,” if you will. Our physical location will stay permanent, but the culture around us will change, just like the city has always done. 

Asking “Where is Grace?” is very similar to asking “Who is Grace?” As we are, where we are. 

Milo Pesca ‘25 is a staff writer for The Grace Gazette.