The Lower East Side (LES) extends from East Houston Street, down to Canal Street, from the Bowery to the East River. The neighborhood began as a magnet for immigrants and the influence of these groups is still a major presence here. The LES includes the largest Chinatown in the country, and a thriving Latino and orthodox Jewish population. In the last decade, it has attracted a younger crowd, brought in by the inexpensive rents. These newbie's have transformed the neighborhood into an interesting blend of hip shops and bars with 50-year-old pickle shops. This is a vibrant community of different cultures, with waves of young people moving in every month.
A crucial legacy of Manhattan lies in the tenements that were once occupied by the panoply of immigrants that came through Ellis Island. Now remodeled and reformed, the streets that once held dressmaker and butcher shops now boast stylish boutiques and lounges for Manhattan’s elite. Bounded by the Bowery to the west, East Houston Street to the north, the East River and Chinatown, the Lower East Side has completely rebounded from a slump in the 70s and 80s aided by investment and a renewed interest in the “downtown" lifestyle. Developers have renovated the walk-ups built by the hands of new Americans and next to them, erected sleek new full-service luxury buildings with modern condominiums and high-end rentals. Though it still retains an artist’s sensibility and a bohemian bond, the cleaner, safer Lower East Side supports a vibrant and diverse nightlife, with limitless options from hip bars to cabaret theaters and Indie rock venues.
The Lower East Side has fewer subway stops and newer amenities than the neighboring East Village, which keep apartment prices somewhat cheaper. The neighborhood's landmarks are some of the most hidden, but some of the city’s most treasured: Eldridge Street Synagogue, the Louis Abrons Arts for Living Center and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum as well as the delightful Katz’s deli. With their classic 60s signage, Yonah Shimmel Knish and Russ and Daughters food shops remind the hipsters of the old New York as the music venues with the next best act, the boutiques with the latest fashion craze and the restaurants with the city’s most talked-about mixologists continue to dot the urban landscape.
Though Times Square and the Theater District offer West Side residents lots of glamor and glitz, Midtown East is the side of the city where power resides, especially in the apartment buildings enveloping UN Plaza, the venerable New York Public Library and the transportation hub to both: Grand Central Station. During every weekday, the population of this stretch of Manhattan from 5th Avenue to the East River and 40th to 59th effectively handles 200,000 people; at night, about 40,000 residents roam the city streets.
Still, people pay for the convenience of the district and the close proximity – not only to work, but also everything historic about New York. They also pay for the adjacency to some of the best restaurants in New York: Cipriani, Bobby Van’s steakhouse and the renowned Oyster Bar with the best oysters in the region. For the cosmopolitan residents and United Nations envoys of the famed Tudor City apartments (as well as well-heeled locals), Tudor City Greens features a lovely garden and benches for a relaxing afternoon book read. Other nearby parks include Greenacre, a respite with a small waterfall that drowns out the city noises, Peter Detmold Park, with a dog run, and Bryant Park, with film festivals in the summer and ice skating in the winter. East Midtown maybe a bit bland for the seasoned New Yorker, but for the commuter tired of the daily trains and the empty-nesters looking to leave the suburbs, Midtown nicely melds city and country.
The heart of New York City beats in Midtown West, which comprises Times Square, the Theater District, the Garment District, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden and the 34th Street shopping district, including Macy’s flagship store. A business hub, a tourist destination, a dining deluge, an entertainment capital and even a residential area – essentially, a city within the city – Midtown West stretches from West 34rd to West 57th streets, the West Side Highway to Fifth Ave. Even as other international cities have their own renowned hubs, Midtown West remains the model district – ground zero for restaurants, businesses, tourist attractions, and world-famous buildings.
Though Midtown West remains more corporate-friendly, these days, it’s hard to tell a commercial skyscraper from a residential one, especially down 9th and 10th Avenues. The Clinton district – formerly known as “Hell’s Kitchen” – just to the far West, is now home to many of New York’s publishing magnates, working actors and theater producers who enjoy the activity of the city and the serenity along the Hudson River. Zoning had long restricted the extension of Midtown Manhattan’s skyscraper development into Hell's Kitchen, but the city relaxed the laws just before Sept. 11, 2001, which leading to a residential real-estate building boom: Midtown West landed some of the biggest projects in the city and has undergone tremendous gentrification.
The younger crowd spends its nights at rec' room-themed bars like Welcome to the Johnsons. There's an abundance of theater space in this sprawling neighborhood, making it an ideal host for the annual Fringe Festival, a showcase of up-and-coming stage talent. The Garment District on Orchard Street is still the place to go for cheap clothes, or you can browse Ludlow Street's boutiques if your taste in duds is more adventurous. As you would expect from its mixed population, the Lower East Side has a little something for everyone.
The Lower East Side has an abundance of open air. East River Park, a stretch of greenery along the river, feature bike paths, playgrounds, soccer and baseball fields, even an amphitheater with a band shell! A jaunt across the newly-renovated Williamsburg Bridge footpath makes for a pleasant weekend walk, and there are numerous playgrounds and tree-lined squares throughout the neighborhood.
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