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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)


Chrystie St Between Houston St and Stanton St

The first time you catch a glimpse of Sara Roosevelt Park from Houston Street, there's practically no way of knowing just how long it stretches. While it doesn't hold a candle to Central Park or Prospect Park in terms of size, it's still an impressive piece of land, spanning 7 long blocks. The variety of features that you can find here is rather encouraging. For such a narrow patch of land, they sure do squeeze a lot in.

The further south you venture on Chrystie Street, the more run-down the buildings opposite the park get. While a shiny new glass box sits on the corner of Houston, it offers nothing to the neighborhood in terms of character. The remaining buildings are unfortunately more desolate than vibrant. Still, the saving grace remains the park; overflowing with trees, plants and people.


Ludlow St Between Delancey St and Rivington St


The standout feature on this block is the previously-mentioned SVA Ludlow Residence. However, since you can't really see the building from this block, its architecture isn't nearly as imposing. As an SVA alum myself, I've been curious what it's like living down here while attending classes up near Gramercy and Chelsea. I have very fond memories of living in their residence building on 23rd between 2nd and 3rd, but this neighborhood is an entirely different beast.

Walking down the street I found myself wondering which stores and restaurants the students most frequented. There's a bodega or two which seem ripe for underage shenanigans (not an accusation, just a pure guess on my part). The dorm is also amusingly close to the sex toy store Babeland.

The block isn't exactly a prime example of anything in particular…it's perfectly average. It's got the right feeling for the Lower East Side: Dark, evolving, and unimpressive.


Delancey St Between Allen St and Ludlow St


Every time I find myself on Delancey street I have to do a double-take to make sure I'm not on Houston, or even 14th. It sounds foolish, but there are many striking similarities. While the other doppelgangers are far more polished thanks to the past 20 years of gentrification, Delancey still remains a bit rough around the edges. Regina Spektor's song "That Time" has a lyric:

"Hey remember the time when I found a human tooth down on Delancey?"

...which is seems very appropriate, but less and less plausible as time goes on.

While the nearby Tenement Museum celebrates the neighborhood's questionable past, the new SVA Ludlow Residence seem to give a glimpse into the future. A controversial building, the brown-brick-mosaic facade is a strange addition to the skyline. Personally, I don't mind it. It's nice to see something that isn't glass and steel. The blocky structure isn't anything thrilling (It reminds me of a telco headquarters that you'd find in the 1960's – especially with those narrow window columns), but I have to commend the architect for the clever use of color. It certainly doesn't appeal to everyone, but I'll be very interested to see how tastes evolve as time goes by. There are also plenty of complaints about the influx of "snobby art students". I can't comment on that assessment (I was one of said snobby art students), but personally I'd much rather have a group of artists than a group of miscellaneous NYC undergrads.


Ave C Between Houston St and 4th St


Very few neighborhoods are as well-defined as Alphabet City. You get a distinct feeling that you've crossed over some boundary once you pass Houston and make your way up Avenue C. Historically close-knit and rugged, Alphabet City maintains a flavor all its own. Though that's starting to change little by little. You can start to see signs of gentrification taking root with shiny new apartment buildings, which look completely out of place amongst the older New York standbys.

Between Houston and 2nd Street the narrow triangle formed as Ave C works its way northward is occupied by a Mobil station – a rare sight in Manhattan. Normally gas stations are relegated to the outermost reaches of the borough– this one manages to sit itself inland by two blocks.


Ridge St Between Delancey St and Houston St 

In the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, this short street acts as a conduit between the Lower East Side and Alphabet City. Half of its entire length is dominated by two grade schools – the southernmost of which features an interesting round building and a large open playground. The remainder of the block seems to be in a struggle between modern and vintage as new buildings bully their way in between classic-looking New York walk-ups.

Dark, dingy and just a little bit sketchy, the street is exactly what you'd expect from the Lower East Side. The schools bring a bit of whimsy, but they're fighting a losing battle. There are a series of local shops, none of which look terribly inviting, but I'm sure carry a local following just-the-same. Approaching Houston Street, there's a feeling of relief, as if you've just walked out of the desert to find a vast world of riches…or in this case gas stations.


East Broadway Between Rutgers St and Clinton St

The northernmost street which still follows the natural contour of Manhattan, East Broadway is subject to several strange intersections as the grid plan attempts straighten itself out. The north side of this block begins with an interesting island created by Canal Street abruptly ending. The triangular patch of land is home to a single tree which looks just about as picturesque as possible. Seward Park, while dark and tree-filled is a welcome addition to an otherwise bland neighborhood. A branch of the New York Public Library separates the park from a housing project.

The southern side of the block is densely packed with a myriad of different buildings – ranging from restaurants to temples to apartments. Not having many buildings directly across the street creates a rather lop-sided feeling.