"Everybody ought to have a little Lower East Side in their life." - Irving Berlin
Are you guys ready for the cliche "I remember it like it was yesterday" line? Well, I remember the day like it was just yesterday. The screeching of the tires on the tarmac. The pilot's, "Welcome to New York" remarks. I deboarded the plane, hazy and hardly ready for the journey I was embarking on.
An hour or so later, as I peered through lazy raindrops attaching themselves to the car window, my cab slowed curbside on Ludlow Street. I looked around, taking in every sight. Some graffiti plastered on nearby buildings, a couple fighting outside a cafe, and one stretching building--the one I'd be living in--towering above me. It was a gloomy day in 2010, the perfect setting for any New York City love story. And it all began on the Lower East Side.
When I first told my dad, who was born in the Bronx, that I'd be moving to the LES, I witnessed the color drain from his face. Choking on the last drops of his black coffee, he'd set off on a rant about the neighborhood and how he'd avoid it at all costs. Living there?! Ha!
What he didn't take into account was that it was 1973 when he was last in New York. The days of LES crimes were now more centered around the crimes of hipsterdom. Gang colors had gentrified into patterns of plaid long ago.
And so I set off to explore the neighborhood. Snapping photos of graffiti, stumbling upon hidden boutiques and stopping to document everything in my notebook at a nearby secret garden. It's true that everybody needs a little Lower East Side in their lives. It's there that my dreams first seemed liveable. It's there where I met some of my best friends, and where I've found my "places." It's there that I fell in love with New York City.
[Photos by Daniel Gabrielson]