The Lower East Side—once known as an enclave for poor immigrants living in cramped quarters, Yiddish theater and pushcart vendors—has undergone a sea change in recent years. Dilapidated storefronts have morphed into chic boutiques, hipster restaurants, music clubs and art galleries, making this area of town one of the most desired places to live—and visit. For me, an early fall stroll in this neighborhood might very well wind up taking me to these three unique venues.
A recent trip to the Tenement Museum not only exposed me to the tenement dwellings of two former families (one from the 1870s, one from the 1930s), but also filled me with my own family memories: My Rumanian-born father was raised in this area, too. The museum, housed in 97 Orchard St., tells the story of this tenement building, which was home to nearly 7,000 working-class immigrants. The museum not only has guided tours of these apartments, recreating immigrant life in the 19th and 20th centuries, but also offers neighborhood walking tours, tenement talks and workshops. Warning: tickets must be purchased in advance. www.tenement.org
It‘s a boutique! It’s a bar! And it’s in NYC—so naturally it’s both! The Dressing Room Bar and Boutique has actually three identities: a shop representing the city’s up-and-coming designers, a cocktail lounge and a vintage and secondhand clothing exchange. The ground level features the boutique area and the casual bar that offers a happy hour, along with specialty cocktails, free internet access, movie screenings, shopping parties and more. The lower level offer the clothing exchange, with carefully selected items for both men and women. www.thedressingroomnyc.com
Dinner on Ludlow not only serves inventive American comfort food (braised chicken meatballs with green apple and cabbage slaw; toast points with caramalized onion marmalade), but also multitasks as a nightclub. Decorated in glamour Goth (oversize chandeliers, ornate metal filigree), the restaurant’s spacious third-floor lounge has a retractable roof, an outdoor patio, amazing views of the Williamsburg Bridge, and a DJ spinning tunes for young city partyers well into the night. www.thedl-nyc.com