I had to do it. I had to drag my wife from Greenwich Village over to the seedy Lower East Side to get to the corner of Ludlow and Rivington. That's the photograph historically captured on the Beastie Boys' album cover 'Paul's Boutique'. Of course it's a mythical place. The album says it's located in Brooklyn, but the photo is of 99 Rivington. Mysterious? No. Classic hip-hop moment? Yes!
Are you a Led Zeppelin fan, A metalhead or a rocker? Well if your in Ny there is one place you got to Visit.
That is the Physical Grafiti Building located 96 Saint Mark's Place (just off 1st Ave)
When your standing outside the building Your standing in Rock & roll history.
You got to take a photo of this building. Its not a tourist attraction. Its a legacy of Metal in 1 apartment building
Built in 1832, the Merchant’s House is New York City’s only 19th-century home preserved intact, with original family furnishings and personal belongings.
It's an elegant red-brick and white-marble row house and shows how a prosperous merchant family and their four Irish servants lived from 1835 to 1865.
They have self-guided tours, guided tours for adult and student groups, and special programs and ehibitions.
I went looking for Ken Weaver and Tuli Kupferberg 's "Nova Slum Goddess" walking south after a pastrami sandwich @ Katz.
Still a great neighborhood, LES has a few what I would call "street people" (not homeless, just colorful w/ some character & edge).
But if you're looking for tenements, you'd better have lots of knowhow & patience. As a naive tourist I found none, only the museum.
Lots of blocks are really cleaned up now w/ galleries & shops, but some local color survives.
Not all the rock clubs have expatriated to Williamsburg.
151 on Rivington is a funky rock bar.
Here's an article on the surviving LES & East Village rock scene:
Rock still lives
Here's a virtual (with audio) tour of a Lower East Side tenement @ 97 Orchard St:
An article about the slow death of lower Manhattan "legacy" renters:
and an excellent documentary about gentrification's effect on the Bowery:
All the poets want to be with her, (Sherry)
Dionysus wants to dance with her, (Sherry)
All the pacifists want to love her, (Sherry)
(ooo Sherry Sherry Sherry ... - ooo Sherry Sherry Sherry)
She walks through the park, all the hippy hearts melt
Her skirt's not much wider than a garrison belt
Slum Goddess from the lower East Side
Slum Goddess won't you please be my bride
copyright, the FUGs
The East Village is one of my favorite areas (though lately imo incredibly gentrified) and I really like the neighborhood by Tompkins Square Park and St Marks Place
Tompkins Sq. Park has 10 & 1/2 acres of excellent gardens, dog runs, fountain & walking paths, skaters, and people-watching.
Community events happening here often,
everything from Wigstock / HOWL Festival to the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.
Just watching the dogs play with each other & their owners in the dog run was worth the visit for me.
This area and the whole East Village is one great historic neighborhood that feels good to walk, not to mention some excellent little places to eat and party.
How about a walking tour of one of the neighborhoods in New York City?
I just took the Gangsters: Birth of Organized Crime tour in the Lower East Side.
Our guide, Eric Ferrara, the Executive Director of the Lower East Side History Project and a New York native of the neighborhood, described the rivalries among the various "families," the tough living conditions in the 1800s and the colorful characters and their sometimes colorful demise. You'll even get a peek at the notorious motorcycle gang's Hell's Angels' NY headquarters!
You really get a flavor of what New York used to be in the 1800s and later.
You can buy his book (see cover art below) "A Guide to Gangsters, Murderers and Weirdos of New York City's Lower East Side" as a souvenier.
Once the headquarters of the Bowery Savings Bank, this 1893 grand Neoclassical edifice is now a banquet hall known as "Capitale" and is listed as a historic landmark. It was the work of Stanford White, the same architect who designed the Memorial Arch in Washington Square Park. The building has two façades, one overlooking the Bowery and the other on Grand Street. In 1923, the Bowery Savings Bank moved its headquarters to East 42nd St, but this building remained a branch of the bank through its several mergers and acquisitions until the bank left it in recent times. After an extensive renovation, the building reopened in 2002 as Capitale, whose impressive interior, lavish decorations and extremely high ceilings make any event held here memorable. I was fortunate to attend a private event at Capitale in 2003.
Modelled after Château architecture of the Loire Valley in France, this magnificent edifice was nothing but a fire station. It was designed for the Engine Company No. 31 by the architect, Napoleon Lebrun, who later also designed the Metropolitan Life Tower on Madison Square Park. The building was completed in 1895 and served as a fire station until 1972. Nowadays it is occupied by a local television station and is unfortunately not open to the public. In 1972, the building was listed as a national landmark.
Built in 1887 by Orthodox Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe, the Eldridge Street Synagogue is a beautiful example of Moorish-revival architecture, with a touch of Gothic. It is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a neighbourhood that once had a high concentration of recent Jewish immigrants, most of whom were poor and lived in tenements. By the 1930s, much of the community moved elsewhere, thus diminishing the use of the synagogue. In 1950, the building was in a such a bad shape that the synagogue had to shut down and slide further into decay. A project to restore the ruined synagogue began in the late '80s and was not completed until 2007. It is now restored to its former glory and has reopened both as a synagogue and a museum. It is necessary to take a guided tour if one wants to visit the interior. Nowadays, the area immediately surrounding the Synagogue has been taken over by recent Chinese immigrants and their businesses, quite a contrast with the Synagogue.
This elegant English Baroque building could easily have been seen in London. It was built in 1909 as the New York City Police Headquarters by the architectural firm Hoppin, Koen & Huntington. The NYC Police remained in the building until 1973 when moving to a larger more modern structure was necessary. In 1983, the building was renovated and converted into luxury apartments.
As a history teacher who's toured New York City quite a few times, visiting cultural and preservation societies and museums like NY Historical Society and Municipal Arts Society will be a much more authentic experience than any of the popular commercial tours. I especially recommend the East Village History Project/Visitors Center (http://east-village.com) if you want truly unique and interesting tours. All the guides are from New York and very passionate about the history of the city. Definitely the most depth and authenticity I've found in a tour.
The Lower East Side is a traditionally working-class area to the north and east of Chinatown, its tenements home to many immigrants over the years. Like many such areas in many cities it is now undergoing something of a renaissance and gentrification – a quick look at the website below will give you the idea. However it still feels quite rough around the edges, and at first glance might not be an obvious tourist destination. But there is a lot to be seen round here:
~ the wonderful Lower East Side Tenement Museum which I describe in a separate Things to Do tip and which was a highlight of our time in New York
~ the arty shops, galleries, bars and cafés of the Bowery (see my Off the Beaten Path tip on CBGBs and Restaurant tip on Vox Pop)
~ Katz’s Deli, possibly the most famous such establishment in the city (and subject of another of my Restaurant tips), and other kosher diners
~ the pocket-handkerchief Suffolk Street Garden (again, see my Off the Beaten Path tips for this one)
~ a number of interesting boutiques, vintage clothes and record stores
~ a great ice-cream shop in Orchard Street – sorry, didn’t get the name, but it’s right next door to the museum (try the honey lavender or the red plum sorbet)
~ Essex Street Market, with fruit and vegetable, fish and meat, clothing and music stalls
But quite apart from these “sights”, we enjoyed just walking around and taking photos – it’s a good area for the latter if you’re interested in images of gritty street life and quirky details. There’s a lively buzz in the air and the people you meet on the streets typify New York’s image as a melting pot of the world’s peoples and their various cultures.
Nope, not your Uncle Les, I mean The Lower East Side. This area is extremely interesting to wander through as this is where many immigrants coming to the United States first settled. It also does give you a convenient perspective on multicultural New York without going to Queens. Strap on your best walking shoes and take a day to tour the Lower East Side and the Tenement museum, and head into Little Italy and Chinatown, while you're at it. We found L.E.S. very safe during the daylight hours; it did start getting a little creepy as evening wore on.
One piece of advice I can give is to make note of any Jewish holidays, besides the Sabbath, as Jewish businesses and synagogues will be closed. This is important if you plan to visit Gus the Pickle Man.
The Lower East Side Visitor's Centre is located at 261 Broome St (between Orchard and Allen Sts) You can make a stop here first to get historical info on the area, plus a shopping guide as well; they are open usually 10 am to 4 pm.
There is a small handful of landmarks and institutions that are so inextricably connected with New York City that they need little introduction. The Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Woolworth Building, the subway, the Staten Island ferry, Grand Central Station. . .these and a few others were all standing long before the present skyline of New York City matured. Neighborhoods like Little Italy, Chinatown, Greenwich Village and others have a flavor all their own, but there is one location that seems best of all to depict real-life, living-class New York: the Lower East Side. Fancy mansions exist in town; the wealthy live in highrise apartments in the West 70s and elsewhere with doormen ushering them to the outside world; millionaires hang their hats in the city's most luxurious skyscrapers. The Lower East Side however is a place where functional tenement buildings rise a dozen floors, where tenants sometimes climb stairs to reach the street. Necklaced with fire escapes; bustling amid old-style shops and cafes and overlooking tiny parks and churches; trimmed with exquisite carvings and often assuming odd colors to set them off against otherwise identical neighbors; these are the characteristics of the Lower East Side, the real New York City.
The Lower East Side was America's first melting pot. German, Jewish, Irish, Italian, Chinese, and other immigrant populations have come and then gone from this area. In this still vibrant residential area you can see the remains of the great 19th and 20th century influx.
I strongly suggest that if you do nothing else in the Lower East Side that attend one of the tours at the Tenement museum Very moving and informative for the entire family. However, that would be a loss and if you have the time visit the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the Henry Street Settlement, the Merchants House, and the Chinese Museum. All worth visiting. There is more information available on the Tenement House web site.