Articles, Blog

New York’s East Village, Lower East Side and NoHo

November 9, 2019


We’re going to take you on a walking tour
through New York’s Lower East side and the East Village, including a major dog park. It’s a part of the city that most visitors
don’t get to, and yet you’ll find it’s one of the most interesting places in New York. On the map. We will show you a good route heading for
Astor Place down Lafayette Street, below Houston down to Hester, touching on Chinatown, then
up to the East Village. In a separate movie will take you to Soho
and the West Village. Starting out at Astor Place which is a lively
intersection of multiple streets, and there’s a subway entrance here. You’ll see Cooper Union, that’s one of the
best small colleges in the country, especially for engineering, architecture, and the fine
arts. And a little plaza with furniture – people
can sit here and lounge, have a snack, watch the passing parade of students and workers
go by. There are two major subway lines that cross
through here that will take you up Broadway or Lexington Avenue, and notice the old-fashioned
style of that subway entrance. It’s heavily influenced by a Parisian glass
canopy style. Astor Place did not always have this open,
spacious feeling. Back in the 1920s there was an elevated train
that ran through the same square, as happened on many of the avenues of New York in those
days. Heading south into what’s called NoHo. We will be meandering along Lafayette and
the Bowery and some of the side streets in between as we make our way down to Houston. Were heading for the Lower East Side and we
will circle back up into the East Village. But first a look at this kind of industrial
semi-downbeat neighborhood called NoHo, that’s north of Houston. It’s an in-between place that doesn’t get
a lot of attention, but that makes it fascinating to explore a little bit. So much of lower Manhattan has been gentrified
with new buildings going in and old buildings demolished. It’s really quite delightful to see this more
authentic presence in the city. A hundred years ago the Bowery was a place
of poverty and squalor, but now it’s looking good. This sharp angle at Bleecker, Mulberry, and
Lafayette brings us to Houston Street, and the flagship store in New York of REI, a great
sporting goods shop. Two levels and a large floor area have all
sorts of clothing and shoes, hiking gear, hardware and tents – everything you could
need for the outdoor life. Continuing south of Houston on Lafayette Street,
we are heading for Little Italy and then on into the lower East side. You’ll come upon a French Baroque style building
with the dome that used to be the old police headquarters, now it’s an upscale condo. There’s not much left of Little Italy anymore,
only two blocks along Mulberry Street, most famous for Ferrara tha, t great bakery with
their cannolis. This neighborhood used to be filled with thousands
of Italian immigrants a hundred years ago. Now it’s on the edge of Chinatown. It still has some Italian restaurants but
it’s mostly tourist gift shops. It’s very much a neighborhood in transition,
a lot of construction going on, revitalization of the old buildings and everything is going
upscale, even down here in the Lower East Side. We’ll take a walk along Hester Street for
a few blocks. It’s one tourist shop after another, it seems,
but fun to look at with these open fronts. As you look down the side streets you’ll notice
that gridiron of the old fire escapes. It really is a characteristic and quaint touch
of old New York. Continuing now along Hester, passing a park
and busy street, walking along Ludlow, Orchard, and Stanton and Rivington deeper into the
Lower East Side. Here you can see how Chinatown has really
been expanding as more immigrants continue arriving, making this probably the biggest
Chinatown in the world, if you don’t count cities in China. Sarah Roosevelt Park named after the mother
of FDR is a very popular gathering spot for the locals. Another popular place along Hester Street
is the Meow Parlor. You’ve got a make a reservation here to play
with the cats. These are frisky, rescue kiddies up for adoption
and ready to play. The Lower East Side has always been an important
place of commerce, since the beginnings of our nation. Cargo was unloaded at the docks four hundred
years ago and this kind of work is still going on today in the streets, such as Allen Street,
hard-working people unloading wholesale goods ready for redistribution throughout the city
and the country. It’s curious that this Allen Street, a hundred
years ago, used to be very narrow and dark and had a overhead train running through it. It was like a black canyon, but later it got
widened, they got rid of the elevated train, and now it’s a busy street all the way north
to where it becomes First Avenue. It has become a true Boulevard with a wide
median, with chairs and tables for people to have lunch, and bicycle lanes an, d pedestrian
thoroughfare with restaurants such as Dirt Candy, a fine vegetarian place. Well now we are taking you further north,
really into the heart of what is the Lower East Side today, away from Chinatown and Little
Italy and the busy streets, into some wonderful places for strolling. We’ll take you on a walk north on Ludlow and
along Orchard Street. This has become one of my favorite parts of
the city. Notice how the buildings are original. There are no skyscrapers here. Not much modernization going on. It feels like New York back in the 1950s,
but it’s the Lower East Side, a place that a hundred years ago was packed with the most
crowded population in the country, dirt poor, but with a vibrant streetlife that must’ve
been exciting. Now there are galleries and upscale living,
making it a wonderful place, but some of the old charm is gone. There’s no more street markets, even on Orchard
Street, that had been famous for its weekend street markets, dwindled to practically nothing. Orchard is still fun, lined with some of the
old-time shops like this luggage store that had a tremendous variety for us. We bought two bags. How long has your store been here? Thirty-five years. Thirty-five years! You have all a lot of luggage. (Laughter)
These blocks around the north end of Orchard Street have an authentic urban charm with
a lot of character. You don’t see many chain stores here, they’re
individual, idiosyncratic, they’ve got grocery delivery on electric mopeds, for example. There’s a real feeling of neighborhood here. You’ll probably run into some street performers,
maybe even a ten-year-old electric guitar rocker. (Music)
An artistic edge with a Bohemian atmosphere. Back in the mid-twentieth century it was a
popular and cheap place for beatnik poets and radical artists, along with ordinary poor
people. While back in the nineteenth century it was
the center of immigrant life, with millions of Irish, and Jews, and Germans coming through,
along with Italians and lots of East Europeans. This was the first melting pot in America,
the launching pad for our growing country. Now it’s one of the most hip and desirable
neighborhoods in the city and it’s still somewhat affordable. We’ve traveled north of Houston Street, which
means we have arrived in the East Village, walking north a few blocks along First Avenue
and then meandering down 7th Street and St. Mark’s Place, ending up at Tompkins Square
Park. We’re also near the edge of Alphabet City
which has a lot of middle-class housing developments along Avenues A, B, and C.
You’ve got health food shops and a cluster of Indian restaurants as we make our way north,
and now walking along E. 7th St., one of the main routes through the se East Village. Until about 1960 there was no East Village. It was all considered part of the Lower East
side. But then as the hippies and beatniks and artist
started moving into this area, it took on an identity of its own. Since many were refugees from rising prices
in Greenwich Village, they dubbed it the East Village. Tompkins Square Park is an eclectic centerpiece
for this neighborhood and is quite large, occupying several city blocks. It’s been a park since the mid-nineteenth
century, a great place for recreation and political protest. It’s had its ups and downs. In the 1980s it was really at a low point,
a haven for the homeless and drug addicts and crime, but that changed in the 90s. They fixed it up and it’s very popular and
safe today for the families. It features the usual park attractions and
something very special. This place has gone to the dogs. Yes, it features the largest and oldest dog
run park in the city, opened in 1990, and recently renovated and expanded. You can see this is an extremely popular spot. Even for a visitor without a dog, it’s a great
place to stop and watch the fun for a while. (Dogs bark)
While the park is owned by the city and supervised overall by the Parks Department, the dog run
is managed and funded by the community. They set up a foundation called Friends of
First Run, and they secured funding for renovations and ongoing maintenance. These pampered pooches are very well taken
care of, and there’s a lot of friendly cooperation here. Great place to socialize for humans and dogs. Located between Avenue A and Avenue B, the
dog run is open every day of the year from 6 AM until midnight, so you can imagine the
millions of Instagram moments that have happened here. And they have three little dog pools, there’s
picnic tables, as well as bath areas and hoses to spray off your dog before returning home. The dogs get to run around on a state-of-the-art
surface, composed of decomposed granite sand with underground drainage. While it’s primarily a place for the dogs
to run around and have some fun and get some exercise, you can see that the people are
benefiting just as much, if not more, than the dogs. It really brings the community together – a
place to make new friendships and renew old acquaintances, catch up on the neighborhood
news. They’ve established a dozen rules for the
dogs to follow, and the owners have that ultimate tricky task of maintaining order, which happens
with everybody looking out for each other and joining in together to take care of this
very special place. There is a separate enclosure for the big
dogs. They have a wide open space for any dog that
weighs more than 25 pounds. They’re welcome to run around on the right
side, and they even have a bit of a mini circular racetrack they can jump into. It’s truly amazing to consider the progress
that has been made here in the last forty years in the transformation from a drug-infested,
crime-ridden squalorous camp for homeless, to one of the most family-friendly and dog
friendly parks in the country. (Dogs bark)
We have many more movies about New York. Look for them in our collection.

2 Comments

  • Reply Sora Suarez May 28, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    ;D

  • Reply Jay Orazi August 23, 2019 at 3:26 am

    Can still smell it. 25 yrs later. Lived on orchard
    Looks totally difffff now

  • Reply Odins Nana October 18, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Great video!! This is the area I'm planning to focus on my next visit to NYC (will be my 5th time there).

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