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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)


Essex St Between Grand St and Canal St

This short block is mostly empty on the east side, and mostly awesome on the west side. Containing such LES staples like The Pickle Guys (which is sadly closing up and moving to Brooklyn very soon), there's a distinct feeling of time travel around here. I don't think any of the buildings on this block rise above four or five stories, while across the street you have some taller apartments in the distance. The lower half here, past Hester Street, is home to Seward Park - which seems unfortunately named if you ask me.

I think most of my fascination here stems from the great myriad of locally-owned storefronts which line the block. Ranging from rundown to over-the-top, it's really great to see the variety. The end of the block is just a mess of streets – including Rutgers, Essex, Canal, East Broadway and Division St – which all come to a head here. I found myself wondering which way to walk next.


Clinton St Between Stanton St and Rivington St 

The crowded streets of the lower east side can sometimes begin to blur together- creating an endless parade of anonymous blocks providing an equally endless array of stores and restaurants. With canopies of all colors hanging over the sidewalk, rallying for your attention, there's a great myriad of hues on an otherwise dark block. 

Cars sit in tighly-packed spots, stores are practically on top of each other, every inch of space is precious- Which is why I was surprised to see a big, green bike line going down the entire length of Clinton Street. While it's nice to see the bicyclists getting their fair due, that's a lot of room to give away to someone who may only use it a few times an hour.


Madison St Between Rutgers St and Clinton St

This area seems to me like a patchwork of surrounding neighborhoods. With the East River and East Broadway defining the general boundaries of this sub-grid of streets, there's only so far you can go before you stumble upon something completely different.

With Madison Street being a large, double-wide road (to me, it seems bigger than Madison Avenue, but I could be wrong), you can get a pretty clear view down either direction. There's a large housing project on the south side while older buildings (and some new construction) make up the north.


Monroe St Between Market St and Catherine St

Just beyond the traditional reaches of Chinatown, and in between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, the short staccato existence that is Monroe Street sits. Monroe really only spans two full blocks; beyond that it pops up only as a small side street a few blocks to the east. This is the longer of the two main stretches and is mainly home to a large apartment development on the south side of the block. The north side is a more traditional combination of low-rise structures, new buildings, and a church.

Despite not officially being Chinatown, the cultural influences of the neighborhood still reign here. The majority of the stores and shops sport bilingual signs. The south side of the street with the apartments had a number of basement community centers, as well as some offices. There were a number of gates which seemed to lead into some nice communal green spaces.

Perhaps it was just the time of day I visited, but there wasn't much light reaching the street, and there weren't a whole lot of trees to place the blame on either.  The towering apartments really cut out a lot of the natural space, especially being this close to the waterfront. Though, the Verizon building looming in the distance didn't help much either.


12th St Between Ave B and Ave C

The two overwhelming features on this block – P.S. 61, and the rear parking lot of an apartment complex – face each other in the center of the street. This creates for a rather imposing and monotonous center to what is, otherwise, a very character-filled alphabet city street.

The east side of the block starts off with a strange empty lot, which seems to be supporting two other buildings with some buttressing. Later on down the block is the hilariously stereotypical Social Security Administration office, which looks just like you'd expect a government building.


Ave C Between 12th St and 10th St 

A good majority of this stretch is cast in the shadow of the super block to the east. However, unlike lots of other super blocks, this one feels rather airy and open, so it's not nearly as drab as some parts of town.

It's interesting to see the comparison of the turn-of-the-century buildings on the west side of the avenue, to the mid-century concept of urban redevelopment across the street, contrasted with the modern concept of redevelopment found a few blocks away (near Ave A, or 1st). Three very different styles of architectures, each celebrated or decried for their own reasons sitting side-by-side in the same neighborhood.

The street is almost exclusively filled with local retailers and shops. The multi-colored signs and murals give a lot of life and character to this block. 

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