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A Walk from Orchard Street to Tompkins Square Park

Before the mid-1960s, the neighborhoods we now call the Lower East Side and the East Village were essentially the same thing. During the 1960s, many artists in the northern section of the Lower East Side started calling the area “East Village” to recognize the rise of a new culture in the neighborhood. The label was used to make a distinction between the older bohemian Greenwich Village to the west as well as to the Lower East Side on the south.


At some point the Lower East Side started being abbreviated as LES. As a friend likes to remind me of the era before the 1960s, “Once upon a time, it was just ‘uptown’ and ‘downtown.’”


The Lower East Side and the East Village have long been associated with a diversity of immigrants from many nations settling the area in sequential waves. Beginning in the late 19th century and continuing into the early 20th century, the Lower East Side was a central location for Jewish migration to New York. Living in crowded tenement buildings, with very few g…

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