What makes the LES so unique is it’s cultural and historical past. It was a place of immigrants dreams and beginnings. The Germans, Irish, Jewish, Italian, Polish, Chinese, Africans, and lots of others…all have legacies here. By LES, I’m talking about the Two Bridges, Little Italy, Chinatown, East Village, Alphabet City, and the LES. So many different people living condensed together. We are/were home to the oldest Jewish cemetery in the USA in Chatham Square, Five Points, Bloody Triangle which is Doyers street, and a thriving slave trade market are amongst a few facts about downtown history.
My Dad’s family moved from Chicago to NYC in 1940. They lived in the tenements on Oliver Street where the Smith Projects stand today. That used to be the Italian side of town. 4 generations of my family have lived and still live in the area.
I grew up in Chinatown on the corner of Bowery and Division. When my Dad was little, Chinatown was a lot smaller and where I grew up would have been considered the Jewish side of town. Change is the nature of New York. Gentrification is inevitable but the warp speed that it’s progressing today is wiping out our cultural past and pushing low/moderate incomes out of areas they have resided in for decades. Growing up these streets never looked so quiet.