Lower East Side

Once home to an array of tenements, the Lower East Side is a historic district in Lower Manhattan, New York City. A walking tour reveals the strong Jewish and Italian heritage of this part of The Big Apple. Having dozens of blocks along the East River, the Lower East Side also boasts some of the best waterfront amenities in the borough.

History

Lower East Side
The Lower East Side was one of the most densely populated areas of New York City in the 19th century. Italian, Jewish and Irish immigrants dominated the demographics of this district that was lined with overcrowded tenements. After World War II, parts of the neighbourhood have been essentially overtaken by the neighbouring Chinatown. Today, the Lower East Side is a gentrified district with a beautiful waterfront and lots of sophisticated, urban amenities.

Attractions and Sightseeing

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is the perfect place to learn about the rich history of the Lower East Side. This attraction occupies two buildings that once served as shops and residential units for immigrants from various parts of Europe. Guided tours of restored tenements are available at the museum. These walking tours examine the lives of the neighbourhood’s Jewish and Italian families in the 19th and 20th centuries. As you walk through the Lower East Side, you'll notice historic buildings that have original cast iron fire escapes, brick facades and other installations that were common generations ago. The district is also home to important landmarks that highlight a strong Jewish presence. Once home to a Jewish newspaper, the Forward Building has been converted into upscale residential space. Constructed in the late 1880s in the Moorish Revival Style, the Eldridge Street Synagogue has been of the most prominent places of worship for Manhattan’s Jews in the 20th century. This synagogue includes a museum with Judaica and other interesting artefacts relating to Judaism in North America. The Lower East Side also boasts an extensive waterfront that includes public space and other commercial facilities. Situated along the East River, Corlears Hook is a park that includes promenades, ball fields and courts. The East River Park Amphitheater also hosts performances on a seasonal schedule. The East River Fire Boat House stands as a historical marker at this riverfront green space. Featuring more than a dozen courts, the Brian Watkins Tennis Center is one of the premier tennis venues in Manhattan. This sports complex is neighboured by the John V. Lindsay Park, which has well-maintained fields for baseball, softball and other outdoor activities. Overall, the Lower East Side has some of the best public parks in Lower Manhattan. The southern corner of the neighbourhood includes Pier 36, a mixed-use development that hosts conventions, concerts, shows and other types of public and private events. This riverfront hub is also the departure point for charter cruises that navigate the New York Harbor and East River.

Transportation and Directions

Occupying dozens of blocks, the Lower East Side is one of the largest districts in Manhattan in terms of size. This historic neighbourhood is bounded by the East River along its eastern perimeter. Houston Street marks the district's northern border, and the Bowery runs along the western edge. The irregularly shaped layout of the Lower East Side's southern portion is roughly marked by the Manhattan Bridge. This suspension bridge carries traffic to and from the DUMBO area of Brooklyn. Also having a suspension design, the Williamsburg Bridge accommodates traffic between the Lower East Side and the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Both bridges have rail tracks that are used by New York City Subway trains. Speaking of rapid transit, the district is home to several underground stations, such as Grand Street and East Broadway. You'll also find plenty of official taxis and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses on the streets.

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Lower East Side
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