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Alphabet City

Story of the Neighborhood . . .

In the late nineteenth century, the Lower East Side saw the high influx of Eastern European immigrants coming to New York. The area quickly became the most densely crowded part of the city. Tenement buildings, with their iconic fire escapes and floral cornices, were built to house the masses. With dozens living in one-room apartments and the streets teeming with small businesses on pushcarts, immigrants tried to earn their keep in the big city full of promise. Orchard Street, often considered the center of the neighborhood, is home to a strong Jewish community. In the last five years, the neighborhood has seen extensive development, with luxury condominiums and boutique hotels sprouting up amongst art galleries, dive bars and new restaurants. The LES’s thriving art gallery scene showcases some of the best in global contemporary culture.

The adjacent East Village developed its own strong identity and culture in the late 1960s. Musicians, artists, poets, and hippies flocked to the neighborhood for cheaper rents and it soon became base for the counterculture and punk movements in New York. Artists such as Keith Haring and Patti Smith lived in this neighborhood. Tompkins Square, once an important site for demonstrations and protests on social causes is now a popular park hosting numerous performances throughout the year, such as the Howl Festival commemorating Allen Ginsberg.





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