On the outskirts of Alphabet City, 2nd Avenue still retains much of the energy but, thanks to its ability to go further north than 23rd street, feels less constricting. Unfortunately, it's littered with a bizarre combination of stores, restaurants and churches that share their space with shuttered storefronts.
It's hard to tell if these few blocks are on the verge of collapse, or about the explode in popularity. Sure, I know the neighborhood is a hotspot, but the mixture of run-down stores and hopping businesses make it a hard call. Like many of the surrounding blocks there aren't many new buildings to speak of – which allows the stretch to keep much of its character.