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 and between the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. In this area old meets new. Here you can find decades old lower buildings, next to new and very modern high rises. The vibe in the Lower East Side is hip & happening eclectic. The charm of this part of town lies in the edgy, artistic character combined with newer, more luxurious hotspots.

Pit Stop in Lower East Side Manhattan

Rusty fire escapes and ‘dodgy’ alleys only add to the artsy atmosphere of Lower East Side. You might feel slightly unsafe from time to time, although, I would say, there isn’t any need to be. However, I don’t recommend visiting the area around Williamsburg Bridge at night, as a tourist. Lower East Side is primarily a school-district area, which probably doesn’t sound very attractive, but it does make the area very authentic. For example there’s the rough Coleman Skatepark below the Manhattan Bridge, quite a contrast to the slick and glassy Midtown skyscrapers.

But there are more reasons to stop here – especially if you’re in town for more than 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, there’s FDR Drive between the bike lane and the river. You can also visit the Museum at Eldridge Street, a museum located in a 19th-century synagogue. Definitely make a stop at the Pier 35, where you find four metal porch swings that offer great views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.

If you want to grab a quick bite to eat, I recommend 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 bagels (with salmon) are the best! Highly recommended.

Lower East Side in New York - Fire Escapes Lower East Side in NYC- Shops

Cruises from the Lower East Side

Pier 36 is also located on the Lower East Side; the pier from which some boat tours depart. Here you can hop on a boat to go whale watching in New York, or enjoy a brunch cruise, as well as celebrate a special occasion on the water. For example, you can celebrate New Year’s Eve on the water and see the fireworks during the 4th of July up close.

Lower East Side Walking Tour

Another way of getting a taste of 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, dishes come from many different cultures. That’s why you won’t just be eating, you’ll also hear stories about the people that brought those dishes to New York, as well as about the Lower East Side itself. Getting to know a place via your taste buds…, does it get any better?

Essex Market NYC

Delancey Street in the Lower East Side is the heart of the neighbourhood. Here you find the authentic New York buildings next to newly built complexes, one of which being Essex Market. The market is a collection of small local businesses who all have their own specialties. Essex Market already exists for over 100 years, but it recently moved to a new, modern building. It’s a great spot to grab a bite during your exploration of the Lower East Side.

Lower East Side in New York - Essex Market Lower East Side in New York - Inside Essex Market

LES Shopping: Vintage and Upcoming Designers

In terms of shopping and fashion, the Lower East Side is quickly becoming pretty iconic. 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 you can 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 history of the area. Other signs of its Jewish roots are noticeable on the shelves of food stores and restaurant menus within this area.

Hotels in the Lower East Side

If you want to stay in the Lower East Side, I recommend you to book the colourful citizenM Bowery hotel. It offers a wide range of facilities and even houses a museum! Other great hotel options in the Lower East Side are The Ludlow and Hotel Indigo Lower East Side.

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 ensures 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 that it was the filming location of THE 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 the 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 crammed together in old, decrepit buildings: the tenements.”

Lower East Side in NYC - Katz's Deli Lower East Side in New York - Pier 35

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