Lower East Side

The Lower East Side (or simply LES) is a center of all things cool: arts and nightlife, restaurants and cafés, boutiques and salons. What was once the "Gateway to America"—and home to waves of Irish, German, Jewish, Hispanic, and Chinese immigrants—is now a quickly gentrifying neighborhood where modern high-rises, the ultracontemporary New Museum, and low-key hangouts all exist in the same corner of Manhattan.

On Saturday night, the scene can be as raucous as in a college town, especially on Rivington and Orchard Streets. But Ludlow Street, one block east of Orchard, has become the main drag for twentysomethings with attitude, its boutiques wedged between bars and small restaurants.

The best time to experience the neighborhood's past is by day. The excellent Lower East Side Tenement Museum movingly captures the immigrant legacy of tough times and survival instincts. You might not find many pickles being sold from barrels anymore, but this remains a good place to nosh on delicious Jewish food like matzo-ball soup, corned beef, and knishes from Katz's Delicatessen or Russ & Daughters.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Gallery Onetwentyeight

Inside this narrow space, artist Kazuko Miyamoto directs crisp and provocative group and solo shows.

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International Center of Photography

Founded in 1974 by photojournalist Cornell Capa (photographer Robert Capa's brother), this top-notch photography museum and school has a collection…

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Museum at Eldridge Street

The exterior of this 1887 Orthodox synagogue-turned-museum (and community space) is the first to be built by the many Eastern…

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