Alphabet City in the Lower East Side

I’ve heard about Alphabet City for a long time.  It’s just one of those neighborhoods that come up in conversation.  It’s named for four avenues with the shortest names in NYC:  Avenue A, Avenue B, Avenue C, and Avenue D.  (Usually, you see them named as Ave A, Ave B, Ave C, and Ave D.)  I took a tour of the East Village/Lower East Side that the tour guide said something along these lines:

“Back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s; Alphabet City streets were said to stand for the following:  if you went to Avenue A, you were adventurous.  If you went to Avenue B, you were bold.  If you went to Avenue C, you were crazy.  And if you went to Avenue D, you were dead.”

Wild overstatement, but those were tough times for the Lower East Side and the poverty and crime in the area were legendary.

And now?  Well, I’ve been through all four avenues and even a bit beyond.  I found some parts still poverty-looking, but other areas looking very, very cool.

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting on the area and some of the things that I saw.  I didn’t see any crime.  I didn’t see anything other than a fascinating, but at times still poor, area of Manhattan that I think is an area that I’m going to see a lot more of; but not when the temperatures have been as cold as they are right now.

Alphabet City itself is located in the east side of Manhattan from roughly Houston Street in the south (think of it as just below 1st Street) up to 14th Street.  It covers maybe a quarter of a mile from Ave A all the way over to the East River.  The most widely known part of Alphabet City is Tompkins Square Park, which is interesting in all sorts of strange ways.

-H

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Explore posts in the same categories: Greenwich Village, LES, Manhattan, Wanderings

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