Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lower East Side, Allen Street at East Houston Street

We got off at the 2nd Avenue stop on the F train, one stop before our destination, and walked down Allen Street to Delancey. Allen Street ends here at Houston – on the north side, it becomes First Avenue and you're in the East Village.

This is the only boundary of the Lower East Side that seems to be firm. Some sources say the eastern border is the East River, some Clinton or Pitt Street, the southern border could be Canal or Division or East Broadway, and the western, Allen Street (!), or Bowery or Forsyth. I'll just have to feel my way as I go. In any case, everyone can agree that Allen Street south of Houston, is in the Lower East Side.

Quoting from New York Song Lines:

In part to improve Allen Street's bad reputation (it was part of the Lower East Side's red-light district), the street was widened in 1932 and a median put in in an effort to create a Park Avenue-like effect. All the buildings on the east side of the street were demolished for this project. The street is just now beginning to recover from this ill-conceived plan.

Mary Sargent © 2009 ……..............................….. click to enlarge

Mary Sargent © 2009 ……….. click to enlarge

So here, two views of Oliva on the north-west corner of Allen and Houston with ladies in coats to match.

See map.


Anonymous said...

I've never heard Clinton or Pitt referenced as the eastern border of the LES. If so, then what of the projects east of Clinton and Pitt? What 'hood are they in? I think that the LES, without a doubt.

Historically the East Village was usually referred to as the LES before the 1960s or so. There are tons of institutions with "Lower East Side" in their name that are north of Houston. Searching the NY Times archives for Alphabet City addresses and intersections, they're usually described as being in the LES. It was after hippies from the Village started moving east that the "East Village" was commonly split off from the LES.

As for the western and southern borders, I think they're most defined by the more organic phenomena of Chinatown expansion. The LES used to be begin where Chinatown ended. But the Chinese community has expanded while all other immigrant groups in lower Manhattan have receded, making that too a dying distinction. The "Egg Creams and Egg Rolls" festival in the summer is a testament to the growing mixture...

Mary Sargent said...

Thanks for that good explanation. Actually, the Clinton, Pitt Street boundary, I think is from real estate maps where they exclude the less desirable streets.