This weekend has been a weekend of firsts for me. Yesterday I had my first Dim Sum brunch in Chinatown, and today is my first day exploring the Lower East Side.
This neighborhood is known for its roots in immigrant families and tenement housing. In fact, there’s a Tenement Museum here that replicates the close quarters and living style of the families that traveled over through Ellis Island. The LES’s reputation for being a poor, working class neighborhood of diverse cultures is now fading away due to gentrification. In fact, the neighborhood itself is shrinking. The East Village, Alphabet City, Chinatown, and Little Italy used to all be lumped together in this neighborhood before breaking out with identities of their very own.
Here’s another trivial fact for you — the LES has only one Starbucks.
The single Starbucks on the busy corner of Delancey and Allen street — to me — shows that gentrification (dreaded by all Manhattan traditionalists!) has yet to immerse this neighborhood completely. My biggest guess for the lack of Starbucks here is the lack of transportation in the southern parts of the LES.
Fortunately this one Starbucks is much more impressive than most in Midtown. It’s large, full of seating, and lacks the cramped feeling of most here in the city. It’s also the only Starbucks in the city I’ve encountered with an extended sidewalk awning — another first!