Lower East Side, New York City Travel Guide
Lower East Side Summary
- Yet-to-be-gentrified areas can be dark and desolate at night, especially close to the East River and near Chinatown
- Most useful subway lines don't run here; traveling to other parts of Manhattan can be a hassle.
- Street noise from drunken revelers and, in some places, from traffic
What It's Like
For much of the past century, the Lower East Side was the neighborhood where newly arrived immigrants packed into tenements while trying to grab a toehold in America. Now those tenements have been transformed into spiffy apartments by junior investment bankers who fancy themselves punk rockers by night. The streets are still a little grungy, but there's no shortage of skinny jeans and party traffic. On the weekends the sidewalks are packed with young people heading to some of Manhattan's hippest bars and restaurants. Like its earlier-gentrified neighbors -- the East Village to the north and SoHo to the west -- the Lower East Side is full of trendy clothing boutiques, cafes, bakeries, and art galleries; but vestiges of immigrant life remain in eateries like Katz's Deli, Guss' Pickles, and the Essex Street Market.
Where To Stay
What was once a predominantly Jewish-immigrant neighborhood is now a colorful mélange of yuppies, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Chinese (the southwest part of the Lower East Side gradually becomes Chinatown). As the area continues to gentrify, the most popular part of the Lower East Side is its northeast section, closest to the East Village and SoHo -- this is where you'll find the hip, new Thompson LES hotel. A few blocks away, closer to the long stretch of bars that largely attract college-age kids on Ludlow Street, there lies the Hotel on Rivington. Aside from these two notable hotels, most other hotels occupy the trash-strewn outskirts of Chinatown, such as the Best Western Bowery Hanbee and the misleadingly named Off SoHo Suites.