In 1999, Stephin Merritt, lead singer of the Magnetic Fields, sang, “I am the luckiest guy, on the Lower East Side.” Today, just over ten years later, many residents of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, both male and female, seem to be walking around thinking that very same thought. The Lower East Side, recently voted by New York Magazine as the number two most livable neighborhood in New York City, has fast become one of the finest places in Manhattan to rent an apartment. Relatively low rental costs, incredibly vibrant City history, and a bustling and creative nightlife and cultural atmosphere make the Lower East Side a vital and exciting place to live.
The traditional boundaries of the Lower East Side are Houston Street to Canal Street, north to south, and the East River to the Bowery, east to west. Originally an immigrant and working-class neighborhood, indicated by the tenement style buildings that prevail throughout, the Lower East Side achieved a reputation as a gritty, and eclectic section of downtown Manhattan. This reputation was only heightened in the 1970’s and 1980’s when many of New York’s trailblazing avant-garde artists and musicians began to populate the area. The Lower East Side was a hotbed of creativity; yet, one plagued by drug-use, crime, and poor building standards – conditions that life-time residents often admit to missing.
Along with many other lower Manhattan neighborhoods, the Lower East Side entered a period of gentrification over the last two and a half decades. The starving artists and squatters gradually gave way to more successful artists, students, and young professionals. Unlike other areas, the Lower East Side has managed to preserve its original character, while selectively adding new museums, galleries, boutiques, shops, and restaurants. The area, always renown for its edgier nightlife, has seen an influx of bars and lounges, with owners dedicated to the preservation of the Lower East Side’s original character.
Average apartment rental costs in the neighborhood for a two-bedroom apartment stand around $2,300 a month, making the Lower East Side more affordable than other downtown areas and also offering competitive prices with nearby Brooklyn. The convenience of location, only a seven-minute subway ride to Fulton Street in the Financial District, draws many young professionals to the area. No doubt, gentrification is evident in the Lower East Side; however, the character of the neighborhood is irascible and there is still plenty of diversity evident.
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