Once an impoverished slum inhabited by Italian, Irish, Jewish and eastern European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Lower East Side of Manhattan is now a thriving district of New York City that attracts millions of tourists each year. Once dotted with crowded tenements, the Lower East Side now has many high-end condominiums, hotels, restaurants, and bars. If you’re planning on taking a trip to this part of the Big Apple in the near future, here is a guide that shows you the best things to do.
When you take a tour of the Tenement Museum, you can explore two historic brick apartment complexes that date back to the 1860s. This museum showcases what life was like for the early immigrants who settled in the neighborhood. Situated on Orchard Street, the Tenement Museum was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1994.
Able Fine Art Gallery
Many artists have called the Lower East Side home over the past 150 years, and Able Fine Art Gallery showcases the works of those from the past and the present. There is also a large collection of visual works made by established international artists. The Lower East Side has always had a multicultural flair, which is reflected in many of the paintings.
The eastern edges of this historic community border the Lower East Side. Chinatown was created by Chinese immigrants who came to New York City as laborers in the 1850s. The community has the largest Chinese population in the Western Hemisphere outside of mainland China. It is one of the city’s oldest ethnic enclaves and features many shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
The Lobby Bar
The Lobby Bar is a very popular establishment that serves many fine drinks and food. When you go inside, you can’t help but feel a relaxed atmosphere. Soft, jazzy music is played in this cocktail bar, which boasts vintage leather sofas and chairs, fireplaces and a small covered patio in the back.
A true ethnically diverse community, the Lower East Side also has a very old and established Japanese community. This club serves Japanese – inspired food and snacks as well as martinis and a host of other drinks.
Hester Street Fair
This colorful fair is held every summer in the Lower East Side’s historic grounds that served as New York City’s largest pushcart market in the late 1800s. You’ll meet hundreds of vendors selling every kind of wares you can imagine.
100 Gates Project
The 100 Gates Project is a non-profit program created by New York City artist Billy Rohan in 2014. The goal of the project is to display and promote the various pieces of art created by local artists. You can see many of these paintings and sculptures as you tour the Lower East Side.
Seward Park is a year-round playground for Lower East Side residents that has the distinction of being the first municipally–built playground in the United States. There is a large running track in the park as well as outdoor gymnastics equipment, tennis courts, and a splash area.
New York Beer and Brewery Tour
There is a strong history of brewing high-quality beer in the Lower East Side. This tour will take you through the historic breweries of the district where you can sample the finest craft beers and see the process the beer goes through to be brewed.
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