Neighborhood: Lower East Side
Adjacent Neighborhoods: East Village, Chinatown/Little Italy, NoHo
Population Density: Quite dense; over three times as densely populated as the city-wide average. The streets here are busy both day and night.
Public Transit: F (East Broadway), F,J,M,Z (Essex-Delancey), B, D (Grand Street), J, Z (Bowery), F (2nd Avenue)
What’s Here? The Lower East side is a bustling mecca of cool, a neighborhood where swanky art, music, fashion converge with gritty New York City living to create a bombastic and distinct Manhattan place. Most of the electricity from the area stems from its abundance of ultra trendy music venues like Rockwood Music Hall, Arlene’s Grocery, Pianos, The Living Room, Bowery Ballroom and Cake Shop. Hip bars and restaurants also stack the streets of the Lower East Side. Try Verlaine for tapas or the popular Sunita Bar, where they make delicious artisanal cocktails. Also in the area is Lucky Jack’s, one of the longest bars in Manhattan and home to the city’s best-poured Guinness. Visit the world famous Katz’s Delicatessen (but try to resist the urge to re-enact the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally, ok? They’ll think you’re a tourist.). Clinton Street Baking Company is consistently ranked among the best brunch places in New York City. A kid’s dream and a diabetic’s nightmare, the historic Economy Candy is a sweet shop packed with wall-to-wall goodies and definitely worth the visit. For definitive local history, the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street recreates the New York City immigrant experience and engages visitors in the neighborhood’s rich backstory.
Flat or Tall?: Historically the Lower East Side’s housing stock consisted of tenements (there’s a whole museum about them); recently, as gentrification has spread south from the East Village, several luxury high-rise condo and rental buildings have sprung up, and more appear to be forthcoming.
History: The Lower East Side was one of the first neighborhoods formed in New York City. Before the Revolutionary War, most of the area was a farm owned by James Delancey. The land was then confiscated and made to resemble the West End of London. In the early settlement days, the area around the East River was known as Corlear’s Hook and it maintained that name through the 19th Century. The region was at one time a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and several synagogues and other Jewish landmarks remain on the streets of the Lower East Side today. It’s still an important part of American Jewish history, but the flood of immigrants to the neighborhood wasn’t just Jews; Ukrainians, Irish and Italians also made up a substantial proportion of the LES’s residents. In the last decade or so the neighborhood has seen significant gentrification that has altered the demographics of the region into the very artsy and hip community of today.
Activities: Concert going, dining out, bar hopping, people watching, shopping.
Check it out: The Hester Street Fair, every Saturday from April 27th to the end of October, features an eclectic mix of local food vendors from the neighborhood.