Monday, April 8, 2024

Mini-Guide to NYC's Groovy Lower East Side

By Jacquelin Carnegie
LES 1900s (photo: Jewish Museum)
New York City's Lower East Side neighborhood has long been home to generations of immigrants from all over the world. Now, trendy boutiques and art galleries are popping up amongst the discount shops and ethnic restaurants, adding to the ambience.
The Lower East Side, an area best known for discount shopping, now has a gallery scene. While the gallery spaces tend to be smaller, this move is terrific because the neighborhood is lively and diverse making it fun to explore.
Download a Gallery Guide before you head out:
LES Gallery Nights ( - 
Participating galleries stay open late on Thursday nights so you can explore the vibrant art scene. Do a self-guided tour of the neighborhood to see current shows and discover new artists. There are also Saturday gallery events that are free; no tickets required. And, several galleries are open on Sundays.
Westwood Gallery NYC
Warhol (photo: Bob Adelman)

262 Bowery (btw E Houston & Prince), Tel: 212-966-2520; - Exhibits work by a core group of world-famous contemporary artists and photographers, such as: Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Avedon & Bob Adelman. (The gallery is right across the street from the New Museum--see below; visit both for an artsy afternoon!)
131 Allen St (btw Rivington & Delancey), Tel: 212-366-6939; - Focuses on ephemeral and media-based work.
Gallery hopping is fun, but you'll need to stop for a coffee or grab a bite to keep your energy up. There's a number of great coffee places and, of course, nearby Chinatown for lunch or dinner:
Roasting Plant 81 Orchard St (btw Broome & Grand);
- Serving brewed-by-the-cup coffee. 
Cafe Katja 79 Orchard St (btw Broome & Grand); - Austrian comfort food & imported beers on tap.
Tenements Tales & Tastes Tour (Intrepid Urban Adventures NYC): These friendly, enthusiastic guides will fill you in on the history of the area, home to immigrants from all over the world for generations. Each ethnic group added to the "beautiful mosaic" of New York City. Sample Chinese, Italian, Germany & Jewish food to round out the experience.
In addition to the burgeoning art scene, check out these fascinating museums:
Tenement Museum 103 Orchard St; - The story of immigrants in New York City in the late 1800s, beautifully told. There are a variety of tours that can be pre-booked on the website.
The New Museum of Contemporary Art 235 Bowery; - Exhibiting striking, post-modern art.
ICP Museum 79 Essex St; - The International Center of Photography has relocated to the Lower East Side to become the cultural anchor at the new Essex Crossing complex.
Discount stores still thrive along with a thousand other little funky shops, but gentrification is rapidly encroaching via trendy, designer boutiques. Here are a few stores that have been on the LES for generations:
Altman Luggage
135 Orchard St (btw Delancey & Rivington), Tel: 212-254-7275; - Since 1920.
A. W. Kaufman Designer Lingerie 73 Orchard St (btw Grand & Broome), Tel: 212-226-1629; - Since 1924.
Harris Levy Fine Linens
98 Forsyth (btw Grand & Broome), Tel: 212-226-3102; - From an Orchard St pushcart in 1894 to a store in 1899.
Katz Furniture 62 Allen St (btw Canal & Hester), Tel: 212-677-8528; - Since 1906.
Moscot Eyewear 94 Orchard St (btw Broome & Delancey), Tel: 212-477-3796; - From a pushcart to a store in 1915.

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