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NYC Grid is a photo blog dedicated to exploring New York block-by-block and corner-by-corner. Each post covers a new street or feature with a focus on the mundane and ephemeral.

  

Entries in Lower East Side (49)

Wednesday
Jan082014

Before & After - Delancey Street

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image. Alternatively, you can simply click anywhere on the image to move the slider automatically.

Destined to undergo seismic changes over the next few decades, Delancey Street is apparently one of the last streets in lower Manhattan to be discovered by developers. With a direct link to Brooklyn over the Williamsburg Bridge, it's rather surprising that Delancey has maintained its state for as long as it has.

Photo source: Tom Riggle, Flickr

Monday
Dec092013

Before & After - Orchard Street

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image. Alternatively, you can simply click anywhere on the image to move the slider automatically.

When one talks about how neighborhoods have changed over the past 20 years, it usually comes with images of bulldozers and a large glass condo complete with CitiBank and 7-11 as the ground floor anchors. But these changes can be far more subtle. Take this block of Orchard Street for instance. When you look at it today, it looks as though little has changed in the past century, with no glass curtain walls or chain stores to be found. But when compared to the 1960's version, you can see a lot of the energy has just been drained from it. Sure, things look cleaner but all the street life that's been so important to these downtown neighborhoods over the decades has been completely stripped away. It seems there has been some attempt to retain the atmosphere of Orchard Street as this block is a designated pedestrian mall on Sundays.

Photo source: Tom Riggle, Flickr

Monday
Nov252013

Before & After - Essex Street Market

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image. Alternatively, you can simply click anywhere on the image to move the slider automatically.

When one thinks about the Lower East Side in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, one likely conjures up images of congestion and deplorable living conditions. Indeed, after decades of unrivaled population growth – due mostly to immigration from Europe – the LES became one of the most crowded and run-down slums, not just in the United States, but the world.

By the 1930's, things needed to change. In addition to problems with quality of life in the tenements, there were untold numbers of street cart vendors crowding the already-narrow lanes of the neighborhood. This was becoming a a problem for municipal services since fire trucks and ambulances were having difficulty getting through the street efficiently. The Essex Street Market was devised as a solution under the administration of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia around 1930.

The market was very successful for most of the mid-20th century. 1986 saw its management turned over to a private developer who promptly raised rents and evicted several merchants. The New York City Economic Development Corporate took over the space in the early 1990's and began a multi-year revitalization. NYCEDC operates the Essex Street Market to this day.

Photo source: Tom Riggle, Flickr

Friday
Aug162013

Before & After - Manhattan Bridge Archway & Colonnade

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

Built a few years after the completion of the Manhattan Bridge, the arch and colonnade that sit majestically at the end of Canal Street represent a type of architecture the city rarely sees. The arch is part of the awkwardly-named City Beautiful movement in which structures were built "to create moral and civic virtue among urban populations". For many years during the 20th Century the structure was neglected and by the time restoration began in the 1990's, it was covered in decades of grime and graffiti. The arch was designated a landmark in 1975, much to the chagrin of traffic engineers who would have a much easier job moving cars on and off the span if it weren't for that giant stone wall in their way.


Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Bain Collection.

Tuesday
Sep142010

Elizabeth St Between Kenmare St and Grand St

   

Lined with small shops and apartments alike, this narrow street packs quite a bit into a small space. It's certainly not a block you'd find in any tour guide. It doesn't offer anything groundbreaking, and seeing as it's just a few steps away from other tourist-friendly areas, there'd be little reason to visit here.

The feeling down here is rather authentic. The stores are a hodgepodge of different services, none of which are chains. The apartments look cramped and vary in quality. a few places on the east side of the block have some flashy and kitschy exteriors, but they're in the minority. 


Monday
Sep132010

Delancey St Between Chrystie St and Bowery

   

This is the very last block of Delancey before it transforms into the far smaller, and less note-worthy Kenmare Street. Home to the Bowery Ballroom and not much else, the neighborhood is very industrial, cold and unwelcoming.

Since Delancey is a direct route to the Williamsburg Bridge, there's always a painful amount of traffic to be had here. The narrowing of the block past Bowery doesn't help the situation at all. This block hasn't yet succumbed to the full force of redevelopment. Many of the buildings here are old, worn, and not too attractive. You can easily spot some of the larger skyscrapers from the Financial District peeking over the rooftops here, which act as a sort-of beacon.