Lower East Side
Lower East Side Historic District
Tenement buildings on the Lower East Side
Neighborhood location in Lower Manhattan (blue)
|Location||Roughly bounded by East Houston, Essex, Canal Street, Eldridge, South Street, and Grand Streets, and the Bowery and East Broadway, Manhattan, New York (original)
Roughly along Division, Rutgers, Madison, Henry and Grand Streets (increase)
|Governing body||Local (original)
U.S. Postal Service (increase)
|NRHP Reference #||00001015 (original)
|Added to NRHP||September 7, 2000 (original)
May 2, 2006 (increase)
The Lower East Side, sometimes abbreviated as LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan, roughly located between the Bowery and the East River, and Canal Street and Houston Street. Traditionally an immigrant, working-class neighborhood, it began rapid gentrification in the mid-2000s, prompting The National Trust for Historic Preservation to place the neighborhood on their list of America's Most Endangered Places. It has become a home to upscale boutiques and trendy dining establishments along Clinton Street's restaurant row.
- 1 Boundaries
- 2 History
- 3 Character
- 4 Parks
- 5 Education
- 6 Culture
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 Notable residents
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The Lower East Side is roughly bounded by the Bowery to the west, East Houston Street to the north, the F.D.R. Drive to the east and Canal Street to the south. The western boundary below Grand Street veers east off of the Bowery to approximately Essex Street.
Historically, the "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. It included areas known today as East Village, Alphabet City, Chinatown, Bowery, Little Italy, and NoLIta. Parts of the East Village are still known as Loisaida, a Latino pronunciation of "Lower East Side." Avenue C is known directly as "Loisaida" and is home to the Loisaida Festival every summer.
Politically, the neighborhood is located in New York's 8th, 12th, and 14th congressional districts, the New York State Assembly's 64th district, the New York State Senate's 26th district, and New York City Council's 1st and 2nd district.
James Delancey's pre-Revolutionary farm east of post road leading from the city (Bowery) survives in the names Delancey Street and Orchard Street. On the modern map of Manhattan, the Delancey farm is represented in the grid of streets from Division Street north to Houston Street. In response to the pressures of a growing city, Delancey began to survey streets in the southern part of the "West Farm" in the 1760s. A spacious projected Delancey Square—intended to cover the area within today's Eldridge, Essex, Hester and Broome Streets—was eliminated when the loyalist Delancey family's property was confiscated after the American Revolution. The city Commissioners of Forfeiture eliminated the aristocratic planned square for a grid, effacing Delancey's vision of a New York laid out like the West End of London, and established the resolutely democratic nature of the neighborhood forever.
This point of land on the East River was also called Corlaers Hook under Dutch and British rule, and briefly Crown Point during British occupation in the Revolution. It was named after the schoolmaster Jacobus van Corlaer, who settled on this "plantation" that in 1638 was called by a Europeanized version of its Lenape name, Nechtans or Nechtanc. Corlaer sold the plantation to Wilhelmus Hendrickse Beekman (1623–1707) founder of the Beekman family of New York; his son Gerardus Beekman was christened at the plantation, August 17, 1653. The projection into the East River that retained Corlaer's name was an important landmark for navigators for 300 years. On older maps and documents it is usually spelled 'Corlaers' Hook, but since the early 19th century the spelling has been anglicized to Corlears. The rough unplanned settlement that developed at Corlaer's Hook under the British occupation of New York during the Revolution was separated from the densely populated city by rough hills of glacial till: "this region lay beyond the city proper, from which it was separated by high, uncultivated, and rough hills", observers recalled in 1843. As early as 1816, Corlaer's Hook was notorious for streetwalkers, "a resort for the lewd and abandoned of both sexes", and in 1821 its "streets abounding every night with preconcerted groups of thieves and prostitutes" were noted by the "Christian Herald". In the course of the 19th century they came to be called hookers. In the summer of cholera in New York, 1832, a two-storey wooden workshop was commandeered to serve as a makeshift cholera hospital; between July 18 and September 15 when the hospital was closed, as the cholera wound down, 281 patients were admitted, both black and white, of whom 93 died.
The original location of Corlears 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. The name is preserved in Corlear's Hook Park at the intersection of Jackson and Cherry Streets along the East River Drive.
As an immigrant neighborhood
One of the oldest neighborhoods of the city, the Lower East Side has long been a lower-class worker neighborhood and often a poor and ethnically diverse section of New York. As well as Irish, Italians, Poles, Ukrainians, and other ethnic groups, it once had a sizeable German population and was known as Little Germany (Kleindeutschland). Today it is a predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican community, and in the process of gentrification (as documented by the portraits of its residents in the Clinton+Rivington chapter of The Corners Project.)
The Lower East Side is perhaps best known as having once been a center of Jewish culture. In her 2000 book Lower East Side memories: A Jewish place in America, Hasia Diner explains that the Lower East Side is especially remembered as a place of Jewish beginnings in contemporary, impoverished Ashkenazi American Jewish culture. Vestiges of the area's Jewish heritage exist in shops on Hester Street and Essex Street, and on Grand Street near Allen. There is still an Orthodox Jewish community with yeshiva day schools and a mikvah. A few Judaica shops can be found along Essex Street and a few Jewish scribes and variety stores. Some kosher delis and bakeries as well as a few "kosher style" delis, including the famous Katz's Deli, are located in the neighborhood. Downtown Second Avenue on the Lower East Side was the home to many Yiddish theatre productions in the Yiddish Theater District during the early part of the 20th century, and Second Avenue came to be known as 'Yiddish Broadway', though most of the theaters are gone. Songwriter Irving Berlin, actor John Garfield, and singer Eddie Cantor grew up here. More recently, it has been settled by immigrants, primarily from Latin America.
In what is now the East Village, the earlier population of Poles and Ukrainians has been largely supplanted 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.
The neighborhood also presents many historic synagogues, such as the Bialystoker Synagogue, Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, the Eldridge Street Synagogue, Kehila Kedosha Janina (the only Greek synagogue in the Western Hemisphere), the Angel Orensanz Center (the fourth oldest synagogue building in the United States), and various smaller synagogues along East Broadway. Another landmark, the First Roumanian-American congregation (the Rivington Street synagogue) partially collapsed in 2006, and was subsequently demolished. In addition, there is a major Hare Krishna temple and several Buddhist houses of worship.
Incoming Chinese people have also made their mark on the Lower East Side in recent decades. 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.
As a Jewish neighborhood
While the Lower East Side has seen a series of immigrant communities pass through, American Jews relate to the neighborhood in a particularly strong manner, much as Chinatown in San Francisco holds a special place in the imagination of Chinese Americans, and Astoria in the hearts of Greek Americans. In the late twentieth century, the strong pull of the Lower East Side on the imagination of American Jews led to the preservation of a number of buildings associated with the Jewish immigrant community.
Landmarks of the Jewish neighborhood
- The Educational Alliance Settlement house – 175 East Broadway
- Henry Street Settlement – 263-267 Henry Street and 466 Grand Street
- University Settlement House 184 Eldridge Street
- Katz's Deli – 205 East Houston Street
- Guss' Pickles – 87 Orchard Street
- Kossar's Bialys – 367 Grand Street
- Gertle's Bake Shop – formerly at 53 Hester Street
- Knickerbocker Village – 10 Monroe Street
- Streit Matzo Co. – 150 Rivington Street
- Yonah Shimmel's Knish Bakery – 137 East Houston Street
- Russ & Daughters – 179 East Houston Street
- Schapiro's Kosher Wine – Essex Street Market
- Bialystoker Synagogue – 7-11 Willet Street
- Beth Hamedrash Hagadol – 60-64 Norfolk Street
- Eldridge Street Synagogue – 12 Eldridge Street
- Kehila Kedosha Janina – 280 Broome Street
- Angel Orensanz Center – the fourth-oldest synagogue building in the United States.
- Congregation Chasam Sopher
- Meseritz Synagogue
- Stanton Street Synagogue
- Boyaner kloiz at 247 East Broadway, opened in 1928 by the Boyaner Rebbe of New York
East Village split and gentrification
The East Village was once considered the Lower East Side's northwest corner. However, in the 1960s, the demographics of the area above Houston Street began to change, as hipsters, musicians, and artists moved in. Newcomers and real estate brokers popularized the East Village name, and the term was adopted by the popular media by the mid-1960s. As the East Village developed a culture separate from the rest of the Lower East Side, the two areas came to be seen as two separate neighborhoods rather than the former being part of the latter.
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. Orchard Street, despite its "Bargain District" moniker, is now lined with upscale boutiques. Similarly, trendy restaurants, including Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant, wd~50, Cube 63, and Falai are found on a stretch of tree-lined Clinton Street that New York Magazine described as the "hippest restaurant row" in the Lower East Side.
In November 2007, the Blue Condominium, a 32-unit, 16 story luxury condominium tower was completed at 105 Norfolk Street just north of Delancey Street, the pixellated, faceted blue design of which starkly contrasts with the surrounding neighborhood. Following the construction of the Hotel on Rivington one block away, several luxury condominiums around Houston, and the New Museum on Bowery, this new wave of construction is another sign that the gentrification cycle is entering a high-luxury phase similar to in SoHo and Nolita in the previous decade.
More recently, the gentrification that was previously confined to north of Delancey Street continued south. Several restaurants, bars, and galleries opened below Delancey Street after 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 The Hotel on Rivington, the Blue Moon used an existing tenement building, and its exterior is almost identical to neighboring buildings. In September 2013, it was announced that the Essex Crossing redevelopment project was to be built in the area, centered around the intersection of Essex and Delancey Streets, but mostly utilizing land south of Delancey Street.
The Lower East Side Preparatory High School is a second-chance school that enables students, aged 17–21, to obtain their high school diplomas. It is a bilingual Chinese-English school with a high proportion of Asian students.
The neighborhood has become home to numerous contemporary art galleries. One of the very first was ABC No Rio. Begun by a group of Colab no wave artists (some living on Ludlow Street), ABC No Rio opened an outsider gallery space that invited community participation and encouraged the widespread production of art. Taking an activist approach to art that grew out of The Real Estate Show (the take over of an abandoned building by artists to open an outsider gallery only to have it chained closed by the police) ABC No Rio kept its sense of activism, community, and outsiderness. The product of this open, expansive approach to art was a space for creating new works that did not have links to the art market place and that were able to explore new artistic possibilities.
Other outsider galleries sprung up throughout the Lower East Side and East Village—some 200 at the height of the scene in the 1980s, including the 124 Ridge Street Gallery among others. In December 2007, the New Museum relocated to a brand-new, critically acclaimed building on Bowery at Prince. A growing number of galleries are opening in the Bowery neighborhood to be in close proximity to the museum. The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, which opened in 2012, exhibits photography featuring the neighborhood in addition to chronicling its history of activism.
The neighborhood is also home to several graffiti artists, such as Chico.
Nightlife and live music
As the neighborhood gentrified and has become safer at night, it has become a popular late night destination. Orchard, Ludlow and Essex between Rivington Street and Stanton Street have become especially packed at night, and the resulting noise is a cause of tension between bar owners and longtime residents. However, as gentrification continues, many established landmarks and venues have been lost.
The Lower East Side is also home to many live music venues. Punk bands played at C-Squat and alternative rock bands play at Bowery Ballroom on Delancey Street and Mercury Lounge on East Houston Street. Punk bands play at Otto's Shrunken Head and R-Bar. Punk and alternative bands play at Bowery Electric just north of the old CBGB's location, while lesser-known bands played at Tonic (which closed on April 13, 2007) and Rothko (now closed) on Suffolk Street. There are also bars that offer performance space, such as Pianos, the Living Room, and Cake Shop on Ludlow Street and Arlene's Grocery on Stanton Street.
In popular culture
- Adrienne Bailon
- Joseph B. Bloomingdale
- Lyman G. Bloomingdale
- Arlyne Brickman
- George Burns
- James Cagney
- Michael Che
- Robert DeNiro
- Jimmy Durante
- Fiorello LaGuardia
- Lady Gaga
- Ben Gazzara
- George Gershwin
- Marcus Goldman
- Rocky Graziano
- Maggie Gyllenhaal
- Evelyn Kozak 
- Meyer Lansky
- Emanuel Lehman
- Henry Lehman
- Mayer Lehman
- Lucky Luciano
- The Marx Brothers
- Walter Matthau
- Zero Mostel
- Jim Neu
- Mikhail Odnoralov
- Lee Quiñones
- Lou Reed
- Edward G. Robinson
- Joseph Seligman
- Rachel Trachtenburg
- Tru Life
- B.D. Wong
- Christopher Woodrow
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "Threats to history seen in budget cuts, bulldozers – Yahoo! News". News.yahoo.com. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
- Salkin, Allen (June 3, 2007). "Lower East Side Is Under a Groove". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- Virshup, Amy. "New York Nabes". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2007.
- McEvers, Kelly (March 2, 2005). "Close-Up on the Lower East Side". Village Voice. Retrieved January 13, 2007.
- The Delancey town house later became Fraunces Tavern.
- "Gilbert Tauber, "Old Streets of New York: Delancey Farm grid"". Oldstreets.com. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- The division between the "West Farm" and the "East farm" ran approximately along today's Clinton Street, according to Eric Homberger, The Historical Atlas of New York City: a visual celebration of nearly 400 years 2005:60–61.
- Edward Van Winkle, Joan Vinckeboons, Kiliaen van Rensselaer, Manhattan, 1624–1639 1916:13; Jacob, whose name was anglicised as "van Curler", leased it to William Hendriesen and Gysbert Cornelisson in September 1640; date given as "prior to 1640": "Corlears Park". Nycgovparks.org. November 17, 2001. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
- Nechtanc, in K. Scott and K. Stryker-Rodda, eds. New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, vol. 1 (Baltimore) 1974 and R.S. Grumet, Native American Place-Names in New York City (New York) 1981, both noted in Eric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City 2009:262.
- Edwin Francis Hatfield, Samuel Hanson Cox, Patient Continuance in Well-doing: a memoir of Elihu W. Baldwin, 1843:183.
- Edwin Francis Hatfield, Samuel Hanson Cox, Patient Continuance in Well-doing: a memoir of Elihu W. Baldwin, 1843:183f.
- Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms (1859): "hooker": 'A resident of the Hook, i.e. a strumpet, a sailor's trull. So called from the number of houses of ill-fame frequented by sailors at the Hook (i.e. Corlear's Hook) in the city of New York" (quoted in the Online Etymology Dictionary); thus the usage precedes the Civil War and any supposed connection to Maj.-Gen. Joseph Hooker.
- Samuel Akerley, MD (Dudley Atkins, ed.) Reports of Hospital Physicians: and other documents in relation to the epidemic cholera (New York: Board of Health) 1832:112-49.
- "Gilbert Tauber, "Old Streets of New York: Corlaers or Corlears Hook"". Oldstreets.com. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- NYC Department of Parks historical sign: Corlear's hook Park.
- The Corners Project
- See also Diner, Hasia; Shandler, Jeffrey; Wenger, Beth, eds. (2000), Remembering the Lower East Side. American Jewish reflections, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-33788-7 or Pohl, Jana (2006), 'Only darkness in the Goldeneh Medina?' Die Lower East Side in der US-amerikanischen Kinder- und Jugendliteratur, Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 58 (3): 227–242, doi:10.1163/157007306777834546
- Bialystoker Synagogue
- Eldridge Street Synagogue
- Kehila Kedosha Janina
- Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy
- Wolfe, Gerald (1975), New York, a Guide to the Metropolis, New York: New York University Press, pp. 89–106, ISBN 0-8147-9160-3
- Diner, Hasia (2000), The Lower East Side Memories: The Jewish Place in America, Princeton: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-00747-0
- Mele, Christopher; Kurt Reymers; Daniel Webb. "Selling the Lower East Side – Geography Page". Selling the Lower East Side. Retrieved January 17, 2007.
- Mele, Christopher; Kurt Reymers; Daniel Webb. "The 1960s Counterculture and the Invention of the "East Village"". Selling the Lower East Side. Retrieved January 17, 2007.
- "Best Pancakes – Best of New York 2005". New York Magazine. May 21, 2005. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
- Eric Asimov (April 10, 2002). "And to Think that I Ate it on Clinton Street". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
- Bagli, Charles V. "City Plans Redevelopment for Vacant Area in Lower Manhattan". New York TImes. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
- Carlo McCormick, "The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984"
- Salkin, Allen (June 3, 2007). "Lower East Side Is Under a Groove". The New York Times.
- Lueck, Thomas J. (July 2, 2007). "As Noise Rules Take Effect, the City’s Beat Mostly Goes On". The New York Times.
- Ameen, Taji. "Clayton Patterson's Music Week".
- "StarLiner Events NYNY".
- Fishkoff, Sue (22 May 2009). "The new American Girl doll: She's Jewish, she's poor and her name is Rebecca". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- "World’s Oldest Living Jew Dies at 113". 19 June 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lower East Side.|
- Lower East Side travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Lower East Side – Neighborhood Profile
- A Jewish Tour of the Lower East Side, New York magazine
- Photographs of the Lower East Side and East Village in 1980 and 2010
- Lower East Side History Project
- Lower East Side Preservation Initiative