Card No. 9 - photos
This walk is a sentimental journey through what remains of New York's most famous immigrant quarter.
Begin at Canal and Essex Streets (F train to East Broadway). A century ago, the Lower East Side was the most densely populated human settlement in the world. Close to 400,000 immigrants crowded into squalid tenements that lined the narrow streets. Mainly Jews who fled the pograms that swept Eastern Europe at the end of the 19th century, they created a cultural and religious enclave that survived almost unchanged through the 1950s. Today, the neighborhood has just over 90,000 residents - close to half of them Chinese who have migrated from ever-expanding Chinatown to the west and south - and one must search hard amid the growing number of stylish shops, art galleries, and restaurants for traces of the past. Along Grand Street, where 24 linen shops once competed for customers, there remains just Harris Levy (278 Grand) and one or two others. Religious goods shops are concentrated on Essex Street south of Grand. Since 1988, the most visited landmark in the neighborhood has been the Tenement Museum, a historically faithful re-creation of several apartments at 97 Orchard Street, between Broome and Delancey. The museum's shop, at 90 Orchard, should not be missed. Other landmarks include the recently renovated Eldridge Street Synagogue, between Canal and Division; the Romanian-American synagogue, on Rivington between Orchard and Ludlow; Yonah Schimmel Knishery (137 E. Houston); Russ & Daughters (179 E. Houston), purveyors of smoked fish and caviar since 1914; and Katz's Delicatessen (205 E. Houston), where "Harry Met Sally" for lunch and Meg Ryan faked an orgasm between bites of pastrami.
From City Walks: New York: 50 Adventures on Foot by Martha Fay