First off, my thoughts and prayers to those who have been impacted by the catastrophic events in the Texas region and to the courageous responders’ in the throes of saving and supporting lives. “Officials are calling Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding a 500-year weather event, one of the most epic storms in our nation’s history”. In the NPR article entitled (click link): Here’s How You Can Help People Affected By Harvey; a Charity Navigator to guide all of us to participate in saving lives and providing comfort to the victims of Harvey. To forge a road to resilience it is important to come together as a Nation in challenging times, to stay positive and flexible in deriving short and long-term strategic solutions in the rebuilding efforts.
This month’s Culturally Inclined focuses on the Lower East Side – “LES” (Little Italy and Chinatown) discovering cuisine, art galleries, boutiques, music venues, fitness, history of the area, market report and so much more.
It’s difficult to imagine how this area designated as Little Italy and Chinatown went from a picturesque farming community with a five-acre lake known as the “Collect”, a fresh water pond home to slaughter houses and tanneries. By the 1800’s this area had become America’s first shantytown known as the 5 Points bound by Centre street to the West, the Bowery to the East, Canal Street to the North, Park Row to the South. The former Five Points is now split between the Civic Center to the west and south, and Chinatown to the east and north. The name “Five Points” was derived from the five-pointed intersection created by Orange Street (now Baxter Street) and Cross Street (now Mosco Street); from this intersection Anthony Street (now Worth Street) began and ran in a northwest direction, dividing one of the four corners into two triangular-shaped blocks; thus the fifth “point.” To the west of this “point” ran Little Water Street (which no longer exists) north to south, creating a triangular plot which would become known as “Paradise Square,” after the buildings standing in the triangle were torn down in 1832.
Immigration and gentrification continue to shape the LES landscape. Rising rents and changing demographics have significantly reduced and threaten the demise of this historic area. Little Italy, once 50 square blocks, now primarily consists of three blocks on Mulberry Street. There is an initiative to design and construct a symbolic landmark at the nexus of Manhattan’s Chinatown and the southern entrance to Little Italy’s historic Mulberry and Mott Streets – Gateways to Chinatown to foster through design connectivity of communities by preserving tradition while adapting to ever-changing cultural and generational demographics and technology. The Lower East Side’s past and present is being connected through the development of nine sites entitled Essex’s Crossing (watch video in link). “Spread over 1.9 million square feet, it comprises nine sites with over 1,000 new residences, 800,000 square feet of retail, 400,000 square feet of office space, community attractions, and green spaces. These nine sites, commonly known as the Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area (SPEURA), sat mostly vacant since 1967 and represent one of the most significant urban renewal developments in the history of New York City is planned to be completed by 2024.”
With the 3rd and last full moon of the summer called the Full Corn Moon or Barley Moon marking the time to harvest is a perfect time to traverse Chinatown and Little Italy since it corresponds to the 91st Annual Feast of San Gennaro held in historic Little Italy for 11 days from September 14th – 24th and the China Mid-Autumn Festival 2017 Festival from September 17th – October 9th. During these festivals the streets are lit-up highlighting the Italian and Chinese cultures through activities, music and food.
Chinatown and Little Italy’s gastronomic landscapes is bridging the past, present and future. When you are in the area explore some of the eateries: Chinese Tuxedo resides in an old community opera house, Emilio’s Ballato at 55 East Houston, The Musket Room at 265 Elizabeth Street bringing New Zealand cuisine to the area, The Chef’s Club at 275 Mulberry a restaurant with ever-changing top chefs share a one-of-a-kind culinary experience, Cherche Midi at 282 Bowery a French classics and seasonal Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, Canal Street Food Hall, Nom Wah on 13 Doyers Street is a vintage dim sum parlor dating back to 1920s and originally a tea parlor and bakery, Wo Hop on 17 Mott Street is the 2nd oldest Chinese restaurant in the area founded in 1938. Also, if you are in the neighborhood stop by and say hello to Katerina at Greekologies who is passionate about her creation of authentic Greek Island Yogurt (strained and unstrained) located between Mott and Mulberry Street at 379 Broome Street with a beautiful outdoor space.
In honor of next week’s Labor Day paying tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers I present you with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Psalm of Life reminding us to live in the present, let go of the past, and enjoy life in the awareness that it is fleeting. Each day we should a — “Be a hero in the strife” of daily life.
Feel free to drop me a line or call me if you need further information or just want to catch-up. Look forward to hearing from you.
“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”
― Nora Ephron