NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

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Lower East Side

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Featuring classic tenement buildings, exciting new architectural developments, a rich cultural history, and second-to-none nightlife, the Lower East Side epitomizes the laid-back bustle of downtown New York. Families whose histories in the Lower East Side stretch back generations live alongside new residents seeking all the thrills of downtown life in a convenient location. Exciting destinations like the Hotel on Rivington and the Thompson LES have popped up in recent years, along with some of the most influential music venues in the city, and universally acclaimed haute cuisine at wd~50 and Frankie’s Spuntino flourish right around the corner from classic institutions like Katz’s Delicatessen and Russ and Daughters. Add a cornucopia of designer boutiques to the mix of longstanding mom-and-pop bodegas, and the colorful mishmash that comprises the Lower East Side is complete.


Landscape

Bordered by Houston Street to the north, East Broadway and Canal Street to the south, Bowery to the west, and the East River at its eastern extreme, the Lower East Side occupies the southeast corner of Manhattan. The far southeastern extreme of the neighborhood comes to a curved point known as Corlaer’s Hook, named after the schoolmaster Jacobus van Corlaer, who settled here in 1638. Corlaer eventually sold his plantation to Wilhelmus Beekman, patriarch of the eventually famous Beekman family, but the name of the point remained the same and remained an essential landmark for navigators and cartographers for another 300 years.


History

Before the American Revolutionary War, this area of Manhattan was mainly occupied by James DeLancey’s farm, remnants of which can be seen in various green spaces throughout the neighborhood. Upon permanently returning to England in 1775 due to increasingly hostile opposition to British rule, DeLancey (a supporter of the Crown) also forfeited rights to his farm, which was subsequently sold at auction upon establishment of the new government. The neighborhood that followed soon became an essential destination for working-class immigrants seeking affordable housing. The area has continued to be a haven for America’s immigrants, and its history is also the history of the immigration of many ethnic groups into New York culture. The Lower East Side has experienced rapid real estate development and investment since the late 1990s, and as a result it now boasts a some of the finest restaurants and most exciting nightlife in the city.