Roughly bounded by East Houston, Essex, Canal, Eldridge, South, and Grand Streets, and the Bowery and East Broadway, Manhattan, New York (original) Roughly along Division, Rutgers, Madison, Henry and Grand Streets (increase)
NRHP Reference #
00001015 (original) 04000297 (increase)
Added to NRHP
September 7, 2000 (original) May 2, 2006 (increase)
Katz's Delicates, Beauty & Essex, Mr Purple, Hotel Chantelle, Stanton Social
Hotel Indigo Lower Ea, SIXTY LES Hotel, The Ludlow Hotel Ne, Hotel on Rivington, Holiday Inn NYC ‑ Lower Ea
New york city video tour of the lower east side manhattan part 2
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.
- New york city video tour of the lower east side manhattan part 2
- Map of Lower East Side New York NY USA
- Prior to Europeans
- Early settlement
- Corlears Hook
- Societal change and decline
- East Village split and gentrification
- Immigrant neighborhood
- Jewish neighborhood
- Art scene
- Nightlife and live music
Map of Lower East Side, New York, NY, USA
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.
The neighborhood is bordered in the south and west by Chinatown – which extends north to roughly Grand Street, in the west by Nolita and in the north by the East Village.
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.
Prior to Europeans
As was all of Manhattan Island, the area now known as the Lower East Side was occupied by members of the Lenape tribe, who were organized in bands which moved from place to place according to the seasons, fishing on the rivers in the summer, and moving inland in the fall and winter to gather crops and hunt for food. Their main trail took approximately the route of Broadway. One encampment in the Lower East Side area, near Corlears Hook was called Rechtauck or Naghtogack.
The population of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam was located primarily below the current Fulton Street, while north of it were a number of small plantations and large farms called bouwerij (bowery) at the time (equivalent to "boerderij" in present-day Dutch). Around these farms were a number of enclaves of free or "half-free" Africans, which served as a buffer between the Dutch and the Native Americans. One of the largest of these was located along the modern Bowery between Prince Street and Astor Place. These black farmers were some of the earliest settlers of the area.
Gradually, during the 17th century, there was an overall consolidation of the boweries and farms into larger parcels, and much of the Lower East side was then part of the Delancy farm.
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.
The point of land on the East River now called Corlears Hook 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, on August 17, 1653.
On February 25, 1643, volunteers from the New Amsterdam colony killed thirty Wiechquaesgecks at their encampment at Corlears Hook, as part of Kieft's War, in retaliation for ongoing conflicts between the colonists and the natives of the area, including their unwillingness to pay tribute, and their refusal to turn over the killer of a colonist.
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, Corlears 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.
In 1833, Corlear's Hook was the location of some of the first tenements built in New York City.
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 Corlears Hook Park at the intersection of Jackson and Cherry Streets along the East River Drive.
The bulk of immigrants who came to New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries came to the Lower East Side, moving into crowded tenements there. By the 1840s, large numbers of German immigrants settled in the area, and a large part of it became known as "Little Germany" or "Kleindeutschland". This was followed by groups of Italians and Eastern European Jews, as well as Greeks, Hungarians, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Slovaks and Ukrainians, each of whom settled in relatively homogeneous enclaves. By 1920, the Jewish neighborhood was one of the largest of these ethnic groupings, with 400,000 people, pushcart vendors prominent on Orchard and Grand Streets, and numerous Yiddish theatres along Second Avenue between Houston and 14th Streets.
Living conditions in these "slum" areas were far from ideal, although some improvement came from a change in the zoning laws which required "new law" tenements to be built with air shafts between them, so that fresh air and some light could reach each apartment. Still, reform movements, such as the one started by Jacob A. Riis' book How the Other Half Lives continued to attempt to alleviate the problems of the area through settlement houses, such as the Henry Street Settlement, and other welfare and service agencies. The city itself moved to address the problem when it built First Houses on the south side of East 3rd Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, and on the west side of Avenue A between East 2nd and East 3rd Streets in 1935-36, the first such public housing project in the United States.
Societal change and decline
By the turn of the twentieth century, the neighborhood had become closely associated with radical politics, such as anarchism, socialism and communism, and was also known as a place where many popular performers had grown up, such as the Marx Brothers, Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, George and Ira Gershwin, Jimmy Durante, and Irving Berlin. Later, more radical artists such as the Beat poets and writers were drawn to the neighborhood – especially the parts which later became the East Village – by the inexpensive housing and cheap food.
The German population decreased in the early twentieth century as a result of the General Slocum disaster and due to anti-German sentiment prompted by World War I. After World War II, the Lower East Side became New York City's first racially integrated neighborhood with the influx of African Americans and Puerto Ricans. Areas where Spanish speaking was predominant began to be called Loisaida.
By the 1960s, the influence of the Jewish and eastern European groups declined as many of these residents had left the area, while other ethnic groups had coalesced into separate neighborhood, such as Little Italy. The Lower East Side then experienced a period of "persistent poverty, crime, drugs, and abandoned housing".
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.
By the 1980s, the Lower East Side had begun to stabilize after its period of decline, and once again began to attract students, artists and adventurous member of the middle-class, as well as immigrants from countries such as Bangladesh, China, the Dominican Republic, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Poland.
In the early 2000s, the gentrification of the East Village spread to the Lower East Side proper, 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.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Lower East Side was 72,957, an increase of 699 (1.0%) from the 72,258 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 535.91 acres (216.88 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 136.1 inhabitants per acre (87,100/sq mi; 33,600/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 22.6% (16,453) White, 10.9% (7,931) African American, 0.2% (142) Native American, 24.9% (18,166) Asian, 0.0% (13) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (191) from other races, and 1.6% (1,191) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 39.6% (28,870) of the population.
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.)
Since the immigration waves from eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Lower East Side became known as having been a center of Jewish immigrant 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 for Ashkenazi American Jewish culture. Vestiges of the area's Jewish heritage exist in shops on Hester and Essex Streets, and on Grand Street near Allen Street. An Orthodox Jewish community is based in the area, operating 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. Second Avenue in the Lower East Side was 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.
Since the mid-20th century, the area has been settled primarily by immigrants, primarily from Latin America, especially Central America and Puerto Rico. They have established their own groceries and shops, marketing goods from their culture and cuisine. Bodegas have replaced Jewish shops. They are mostly Roman Catholic.
In what is now the East Village, the earlier populations of Poles and Ukrainians have moved on and been largely supplanted by newer immigrants. The immigration of numerous 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 still has 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.
Chinese residents have also been moving into Lower East Side, and since the late 20th century, they have comprised a large immigrant group in the area. The part of the neighborhood south of Delancey Street and west of Allen Street has, in large measure, become part of Chinatown. 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.
While the Lower East Side has been a place of successive immigrant populations, many American Jews relate to the neighborhood in a 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. It was a center for the ancestors of many people in the metropolitan area, and it was written about and portrayed in fiction and films.
In the late twentieth century, Jewish communities have worked to preserve a number of buildings associated with the Jewish immigrant community.
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 and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
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.
The Lower East side is the location of the Slipper Room a burlesque, variety and vaudeville theatre on Orchard and Stanton. Lady Gaga, Leonard Cohen and U2, have all appeared there, while popular downtown performers Dirty Martini, Murray Hill and Matt Fraser often appear. Variety shows are regularly hosted by comedians James Habacker, Bradford Scobie, Matthew Holtzclaw and Matt Roper under the guise of various characters.
The Lower East Side is the home to many private parks, such as La Plaza Cultural. The Sara D. Roosevelt Park and Seward Park are among the public parks in the area.
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 Seward Park Campus comprises five schools with an average graduation rate of about 80%. The original school in the building was opened 1929 and closed 2006.
There are multiple New York City Subway stations in the neighborhood, including Grand Street (B D), Bowery (J Z), Second Avenue (F), Delancey Street – Essex Street (F J M Z), and East Broadway (F). New York City Bus routes include M9, M14A, M14D, M15, M15 SBS, M21, M22, M103, B39.
The Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan Bridge connect the Lower East Side to Brooklyn. The FDR Drive is on the neighborhood's south and east ends.
There are multiple bike lanes in the area. Bike lanes are present on Allen, Chrystie, Clinton, Delancey, Grand, Houston, Montgomery, Madison, Rivington, Stanton, and Suffolk Streets; Bowery, East Broadway, and FDR Drive; the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges; and the East River Greenway.
The Lower East Side is expected to be served by the Citywide Ferry Service starting in 2018.