Lower East Side in New York

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Lower East Side in New York

Lower East Side in New York is a neighbourhood in Manhattan, between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn – between Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge. This area used to be inhabited by the poor, but there’s a movement going on. Although Lower East Side is a bit behind compared to other areas, the vibe is noticeably moving towards hip & happening eclectic. The charm of this part of town lies in the edgy, artistic character melting with newer, more luxurious hotspots.

Pit Stop in Lower East Side

Rusty fire escapes and ‘dodgy’ alleys only add to the artsy atmosphere of the Lower East Side. You might feel slightly unsafe from time to time, although I would say that there isn’t need to be. I wouldn’t recommend to visit the area around Williamsburg Bridge as a tourist though. Lower East Side is primarily a school-district area, but there are certainly reasons to make a pit stop here – especially when you’re in town for over four days. Explore the neighbourhood during a long walk, or when taking a break from a bike ride along the East River. Don’t forget that there’s the FDR Drive in between the bike lane and the river.

If you want to grab a quick bite to eat then I suggest going to Russ & Daughters (179 E Houston Street). Russ & Daughters was established in 1914 and has a lot of Eastern European and Jewish products and dishes. The cookies and the bagels (with salmon) are the best, highly recommended.

Lower East Side - Russ and Daughters Lower East Side in NYC- Shops

Taste the Culture

Another way of getting a taste of the Lower East Side culture is to get an actual taste of it: follow a tour guide around this part of town, along all of its food stands. With the Lower East Side Food and Culture Tour you’ll walk around the neighbourhood in a small group, hunting for the best food it has to offer. In Lower East Side, these dishes come from many different cultures. That’s why you won’t be just eating, but you’ll also hear stories about the people that brought those dishes to New York, and about Lower East Side itself. Getting to know a place via your taste buds… does it get any better?

Lower East Side in NYC - Houses Lower East Side in NYC - Street

Vintage and Upcoming Designers

In terms of shopping and fashion, Lower East Side is becoming pretty big. More and more upcoming designers, alternative second hand boutiques and other shops pop up in former apartments and houses. These are the kind of shops to browse for hours, finding unique treasures. Bargain fanatics will fall for Orchard Street. Note: a lot of stores are closed here on Saturdays instead of Sundays. This has to do with the Jewish past of Lower East Side. Other Jewish roots are noticeable on the shelves of food stores and on restaurant menu’s within this area.

Lower East Side in New York - Panoramic View

Katz’s Deli: Where Harry Met Sally

You simply can’t visit Lower East Side without visiting Katz’s Deli. In this diner, it’s all about being ‘XL’. The space itself, the drinks and the sandwiches (try the pastrami!), everything is huge. This provides you with the ultimate New York feeling: big, bigger, biggest! But to be honest, the main reason why Katz’s Deli is so popular, especially amongst tourists, is a legendary scene from When Harry Met Sally. Indeed, Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm occurred at one of these tables. The sign with ‘Where Harry met Sally…hope you have what she had!’ shows you which table exactly.

Eric’s Tip: Are you interested in the less ‘fashionable’ history of Lower East Side? At 103 Orchard Street you’ll find the Tenement Museum. The tour guide will show you how people used to live here over a century ago: with multiple poor families together – in old, ruinous buildings: the tenements. 

Lower East Side in NYC - Katz's Deli Lower East Side in NYC - inside Katzt's Deli

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