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The Lower East Side is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York Citymarker borough of Manhattanmarker. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, E. Houston, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street. It has traditionally been an immigrant, working class neighborhood, but it has undergone rapid gentrification in recent years, prompting The National Trust for Historic Preservation to place the neighborhood on their list of America's Most Endangered Places.


Current boundaries

While the exact western and southern boundaries of the neighborhood are open to debate, the Lower East Side today refers to the area of Manhattan south of East Houston Street and west of the East Rivermarker.
The corner of Orchard and Rivington Streets, Lower East Side (2005)
The Lower East side is bordered in the south and west by Chinatownmarker (which extends north to roughly Grand Street), in the west by NoLItamarker and in the north by East Villagemarker.

The Lower East Side 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 25th district, and New York City Council's 1st and 2nd district.

Historical boundaries

Originally, "Lower East Side" referred to the area alongside the East Rivermarker from about the Manhattan Bridgemarker and Canal Street up to 14th Street, and roughly bounded on the west by Broadwaymarker. It included areas known today as East Villagemarker, Alphabet Citymarker, Chinatownmarker, Bowerymarker, Little Italy, and NoLItamarker.

Although the term today refers to the area bounded to the north by East Houston Street, parts of the East Village are still known as Loisaida, a Latino pronunciation of "Lower East Sider."

This point of land on the East River was also called Corlears Hook under Dutch and British rule. It 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. It was named after Jacobus van Corlaer, who settled there prior to 1640. In the 19th century, Corlaer's Hook was notorious for streetwalkers, who were called hookers. 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.

The Lower East Side as an immigrant neighborhood

One of the oldest neighborhoods of the city, the Lower East Side has long been known as a lower-class worker neighborhood and often as a poor and ethnically diverse part of New York. As well as Italians, Poles, Ukrainians, and other ethnic groups, it once had a sizeable German population and was known as Little Germany marker. It is currently a predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican community that is 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 American Jewish culture. Vestiges of the area's Jewish heritage exist in shops on Hester Street and Essex Street and on Grand Street near Pike. 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 Delimarker, are located in the neighborhood. Downtown Second Avenue on the Lower East Side was the home to many Yiddish theatre productions 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. More recently, it has been settled by immigrants, primarily from Latin America.

In what is now the East Villagemarker, the earlier population of Polesmarker and Ukrainiansmarker has been largely supplanted with newer immigrants, and the arrival of large numbers of Japanesemarker 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 Bangladeshismarker 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 Synagoguemarker, Beth Hamedrash Hagadolmarker, the Eldridge Street Synagoguemarker, 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 congregationmarker (the Rivington Street synagogue) partially collapsed in 2006, and was subsequently demolished. In addition, there are a major Hare Krishna temple and Buddhist houses of worship.

The Bowerymarker, named by the Dutch settlers de Bouwerij(Farm), is the home of the Christian Herald Association's faith-based organization known as The Bowery Mission, historically serving the down-and-out since it was founded in 1879. Another notable landmark on the Bowery was CBGBmarker, a nightclub that presented live music – including some of the most famous figures in rock 'n roll like Ramones and Blondie – from 1973 until it closed on October 15, 2006. A bit further north and east is McSorley's Old Ale Housemarker, a well known Irishmarker bar that opened its doors in 1854.

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 Chinatownmarker, 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.

The Jewish Lower East Side

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 Astoriamarker 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 Lower East Side


Meseritz Synagogue

East Village split and gentrification

The East Villagemarker 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 hippies, 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-60s. As 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 restaurants and boutiques. Similarly, Clinton Street has long been a destination for trendy dining establishments (including Clinton Street Baking Company, WD-50, Cube 63, Falai, and the now-closed 71 Clinton Fresh Foods).

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 The Hotel on Rivington, the Blue Moon used an existing tenement building and its exterior is almost identical to neighboring buildings.


PS 142 on Attorney Street
Lower East Side Preparatory High School is a second-chance school that enables students, aged 17–21, to obtain their high school diploma. It is a bilingual Chinese-English school with a high proportion of Asian students.

Art scene

The neighborhood has become home to numerous contemporary art galleries. One of the very first was ABC No Riomarker. Begun by a group of Colab no wave artists (some living on Ludlow Streetmarker), 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, Manhattanmarker-some 200 at the height of the scene in the 1980s.

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 Streetmarker 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. Punk bands play at C-Squat and alternative rock bands play at Bowery Ballroommarker on Delancey Street and Mercury Loungemarker on East Houston Street, while lesser known bands play at Tonic (closed 4/13/07) on Norfolk Street 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 Streetmarker and Arlene's Grocerymarker on Stanton Street.

In literature

Children's literature

Rebecca Rubin, a character in the American Girl doll and book series, is a Jewish girl growing up in an immigrant family in 1914.



Video Games



  • Secret History of the Lower East Side by Alice Tuan

See also


  1. Threats to history seen in budget cuts, bulldozers - Yahoo! News
  2. Corlears Park
  3. The Corners Project, .
  4. see also Remembering the Lower East Side. American Jewish reflections. Ed. by Hasia Diner, Jeffrey Shandler, and Beth Wenger (2000) or Jana Pohl: "'Only darkness in the Goldeneh Medina?' Die Lower East Side in der US-amerikanischen Kinder- und Jugendliteratur" In: Journal of religious and intellectual history 58.3(2006)
  5. Bialystoker Synagogue
  6. Eldridge Street Synagogue
  7. Kehila Kedosha Janina
  9. Gerald Wolfe, New York, a Guide to the Metropolis," New York University Press, 1975, pp.89-106
  10. Hasia Diner, The Lower East Side Memories: The Jewish Place in America. (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 2000.)
  11. Carlo McCormick, "The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984"
  12. The new American Girl doll: She’s Jewish, she’s poor and her name is Rebecca By Sue Fishkoff · May 22, 2009 [1]

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