Lower East Side, Manhattan

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The Lower East Side is a composite neighborhood of the New York City borough of Manhattan which consists of the neighborhoods of the East Village; Chinatown; Little Italy; Tompkins Square; Astor Place; and the housing development known as "Knickerbocker Village" at Corlears Hook It has traditionally been an immigrant, working class neighborhood, but it has undergone gentrification in recent years and is increasingly populated by young professionals, artists, students and hipsters. While the exact boundaries of the neighborhood are open to debate, it today refers to the area of Manhattan south of East 14th Street; north of Fulton Street and Franklin Street; east of Pearl Street and Broadway; and west of the East River.ref>Kenneth T. Jackson: The Encyclopedia of New York City: The New York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995; P. 696.</ref>

The Lower East side is bordered in the south and west by Chinatown (which extends north to roughly Broome Street), in the west by NoLIta and in the north by East Village.

Contents

[edit] Historical boundaries

Image:OrchardandRivington.JPG
The corner of Orchard and Rivington Streets, Lower East Side (2005)
Originally, "Lower East Side" referred to the area alongside the East River from about the Manhattan Bridge and Canal Street up to 14th Street, and roughly bounded on the west by Broadway. Today, the term Lower East Side refers to the area bounded to the north by East Houston Street and to the west by The Bowery. The area north of Houston Street is now known as the East Village, although parts of East Village are still known as Loisaida, a Latino pronunciation of "Lower East Side".

This point of land on the East River was also called Crown Point under British rule. It was an important landmark for navigators for 300 years. On older maps and documents it is usually spelled Corlaers, but since the early 19th Century the spelling has been anglicized to Corlears. It was named after Jacobus van Corlaer, who settled there prior to 1640. The original location of Corlaers Hook is now obscured by shoreline landfill. It was near the east end of the present pedestrian bridge over the FDR Drive near Cherry Street.

[edit] Immigrant neighborhood

Image:KatzGentrificationLES.JPG
Famous Katz's Deli, symbol of the neighborhood's Jewish history, is dwarfed by the development occurring around the Lower East Side
One of the oldest neighborhoods of the city, the Lower East Side has long been known as a lower-class, working neighborhood and often as a poor slum. The Lower East Side once was, and in a few parts still is, a center for Eastern European Jewish immigrant culture. Vestiges of the area's Jewish heritage exist in shops on Hester Street and Essex Street and on Grand Street near Pike, and there is still an original Orthodox Jewish community, with yeshiva day schools and a mikvah. More recently, it has been settled by immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere.

In what is now the East Village, a preexisting population of Poles and Ukrainians has been significantly replenished with newer immigrants, and the arrival of large numbers of Japanese people over the last fifteen years or so has led to the proliferation of Japanese restaurants and specialty food markets. There is also a notable population of Bangladeshis and other immigrants from Muslim countries, many of whom are congregants of the small Madina Masjid (Mosque), located on First Avenue and 11th Street.

This diverse neighborhood also contains many synagogues and a great variety of churches, both in terms of denomination and ethnic and linguistic makeup. In addition, there is a major Hare Krishna temple and Buddhist houses of worship.

The Bowery, though no longer a largely deserted place save for the legendary Bowery bums, remains the location of the famous Bowery Mission, serving the down-and-out since 1879. Another notable landmark on the Bowery was CBGB, a nightclub that presented live music – including some of the most famous figures in rock 'n roll – from 1973 until it closed on October 15, 2006. A bit further north and east is McSorley's Old Ale House, a famous Irish bar that opened its doors in 1854.

The part of the neighborhood south of Delancey Street and west of Allen Street has in large measure become part of Chinatown, and Grand Street is one of the major business and shopping streets of Chinatown. Also contained within the neighborhood are strips of lighting and restaurant supply shops on the Bowery.

[edit] East Village split and gentrification

East Village was once Lower East Side's northwest corner alongside Greenwich Village; it received that name from real estate developers in the 1980s trying to dissociate the area from the Lower East Side's reputation. The name stuck and the term "Lower East Side" now refers specifically to the portion of the neighborhood lying south of Houston Street and East Village has become its own separate neighborhood.

In the early 2000s, the gentrification of the East Village spread to the Lower East Side, making it one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Manhattan. Clinton Street and Orchard Street are lined with upscale restaurants and boutiques, although Orchard Street is still dominated by discount clothing stores.

In late 2004, a boutique hotel, The Hotel on Rivington, or THOR, opened on Rivington Street. The glass-walled, 22-storied hotel towers over the neighborhood and provides a sharp contrast to the surrounding lowrise brick tenements.

In recent years, the gentrification that was previously confined to north of Delancey Street has continued south. Several restaurants, bars and galleries have opened below Delancey Street since 2005, especially around the intersection of Broome and Orchard Streets. The neighborhood's second boutique hotel, Blue Moon Hotel opened on Orchard Street just south of Delancey Street in early 2006. However, unlike THOR, the Blue Moon used an existing tenement building and its exterior is almost identical to neighboring buildings.

Image:LowerEastSideTenements.JPG
Tenement buildings on the Lower East Side

[edit] Counterculture

The neighborhood, along with the present-day East Village, has historically been a home for counterculture, leftist, and revolutionary elements. Emma Goldman, Leon Trotsky, Allen Ginsberg and Abbie Hoffman have all made it their home at one time or another. Various radical groups have had their headquarters in the area. Prominent anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman published Mother Earth magazine (founded in 1906) at 210 E. 13th St., where Goldman is honored with a plaque today.

Leon Trotsky lived on St. Mark's Place in 1917, as did Abbie Hoffman in 1967. Hoffman, along with other members of the anarchist Youth International Party (The Yippies) ran a Free Store on the street. In the 1980s, the area saw a squatter movement arise out of the ashes of a redlining program, which had left many buildings burned out by the landlords. Hundreds of buildings were occupied and defended, and riots broke out as homesteaders were evicted and a curfew was imposed on Tompkins Square Park.

The area played a large role in the punk rock and hardcore subcultures in the early to mid 1980s. The low rent of the area enabled bars and other spaces to hold concerts for little money. Many bands, such as Warzone, made references to the Lower East Side in their songs. Besides ABC No Rio and CBGB, concerts were often held in Tompkins Square Park, a common hangout for punks and hardcore skinheads. According to Vic DiCara of the hardcore punk band 108, the Krishna movement within the 1980s hardcore subculture often focused on Tompkins Square Park and the rest of the Lower East Side, in hopes of bringing punks out of the "Tompkins Square muck."

[edit] Nightlife and live music

As the neighborhood gentrified and has become safer at night, it has become a popular late night destination. Clinton Street and Ludlow Street between Rivington Street and Stanton Street become especially packed at night, and the resulting noise is a cause of tension between bar owners and longtime residents.

Also, the Lower East Side is home to many live music venues. Up and coming alternative rock bands play at Bowery Ballroom on Delancey Street and Mercury Lounge on East Houston Street, while lesser known bands play at Tonic on Norfolk Street and Rothko on Suffolk Street. There are also bars that offer performance space, such as Pianos and the Living Room on Ludlow Street.

[edit] Noteworthy Lower East Siders

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

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Lower East Side, Manhattan

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