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Lower East Side

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Historically the Lower East Side is famous for its immigrant populations. It has long been a gritty working-class neighborhood but in recent decades deteriorated due to the drug trade in the area. It has now rebounded as artists and hipsters moved in. The Broadway show Rent help put it back on the map.

There have been tensions between "old" and "new," between longtime residents, artist "pioneers" and new arrivals, and between rich and poor. But today, there are hot restaurants, pricey independent designer shops, a chic hotel, old-school Jewish clothiers and food shops, housing projects, and small immigrant businesses. There is also an unbelievable number of bars contributing to an influx of barhopping hip young people on weekend nights.

On Orchard Street, vendors and buyers still haggle over tables piled high with clothes, shoes, bags and hats. Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, is still not the best day to visit this strip. Several Jewish landmarks remain, including the Angel Orenzantz Center, the Eldridge Street Synagogue, Katz’s Delicatessen, the oldest deli in New York, Yona Schimmel's Knishes, Kossar's Bialys.

If you're seeking a sense of the neighborhood as it was in the early 1900s, reserve a tour at the Tenement Museum. Housed in a number of extant tenement houses, the museum offers tours that give visitors an excellent sense of what life must have been like for residents here long before the would-be rock stars moved in.

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