By W. Russell Neuman
Have you ever wondered what the West Village looks like to the outside world? We know that the tourist buses stop at Carrie Bradshaw’s imagined home on Perry Street, at the very real Magnolia Bakery, and at the fictional ‘Friends’ apartment above the Little Owl on Bedford Street. But, if you look at the mentions of the West Village on Twitter and YouTube over the last year, you get a different picture. It’s a pretty nice picture, actually.
In my work, I use Sysomos, a Toronto-based research system, which captures and summarizes the millions of tweets and videos created around the world and fosters analysis. The system also creates a “word cloud”—a graphical display of the most frequently used words. So, I plugged in ‘West Village’ and the time interval of July 2016 to July 2017. I removed the mentions of ‘West Village’ in Dallas and the Caribbean (to focus on the New York location) and found over 50,000 mentions in tweets, blogs, online news stories, and videos.
Within social media, there are many references to townhouses including Carrie Bradshaw’s real townhouse (Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick’s double townhouse under construction on 11th Street) and Rupert Murdoch’s recently resold mansion across the street. Tweets about celebrity sightings of Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift abound. My search also turned up some unfortunate crime news about a shooter on a bicycle on 14th Street and an awkward racial incident at a butcher shop, which shows up in the word cloud.
Online celebrity Dave Portnoy takes time out from his Barstool Sports blog to do very popular pizza reviews on YouTube. His mixed review of Emily – West Village drew a lot of attention. Emily makes square pizzas. Our pizza critic likes round pizzas. Who knew that this was a thing? The most retweeted West Village tweet, by Holly Brown in June 2017, captures some our local culture:
“This sign made me happy today. St. John’s Church West Village NYC. #littlejoys: ‘Whoever you are, Wherever you come from, Whatever your journey, You are Welcome here.’”
Holly got 696 retweets and 2,983 likes. The second-most retweeted mention of the West Village is from basketball superstar Stephen Curry (he has 10 million followers) who commented on ‘The Cage,’ the renowned West 4th Street basketball courts. That is followed by Ian Bremmer’s frequently retweeted and seriously awesome rainbow-colored front steps (bit.ly/2wBXFDe).
Overall, this paints a pretty positive picture of our corner of the City. Take a look at Myblockny’s travelogue on YouTube entitled “A Walk in the West Village, New York City.” In their words, our neighborhood is “[f]illed with romantic tree-lined streets, beautiful historic townhouses and plenty of cozy restaurants and shops…the place where everybody wants to live.”