The Lower East Side of Manhattan is a neighborhood located on the southeastern part of the island. Sometimes abbreviated as LES, the Lower East Side is roughly defined as the area between the East River and the Bowery, and between Canal Street and Houston Street. The area is bordered by Chinatown on both its south and west sides. The LES has historically been made up of working-class immigrant neighborhoods, but is in the midst of rapid gentrification in more recent times.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has listed the LES on its list of America’s Most Endangered Places. The East Village used to be considered the northernmost part of the Lower East Side, prior to its gentrification along with the rest of Greenwich Village. In the west, the area is bordered by NoLIta (North Little Italy). By the turn of the last century, the Lower East Side had become associated with the socialist, anarchist, and communist politics associated with its Eastern European immigrants. At the same time, the neighborhood was producing several of America’s favorite entertainers. The Marx Brothers, Al Jolson, the Gershwins, Jimmy Durante, and many others grew up in the neighborhood. Later in the century, many writers and poets were drawn to the affordability of the neighborhood and its proximity to Greenwich Village. Following World War II the neighborhood population diversified with an influx of African American and Puerto Rican culture.
In the years following. local economic pressure the area experienced made it prime for redevelopment and gentrification in the early two-thousands.
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