Manhattan’s Lower East Side was traditionally an ethnically diverse, working-class neighborhood. In the past, the area was home to Irish, Italians and Germans. It was once referred to as Little Germany due to the sizeable number of German immigrants living in the area. Today, the neighborhood is predominantly Dominican and Puerto Rican. One group that still holds a strong attachment to the neighborhood is the Jewish community. The fourth oldest synagogue still in continuous use in America is located in the Lower East Side as is the famous Katz Deli. Earlier concentrations of Poles and Ukrainians are being supplanted by an influx of Japanese immigrants. The neighborhood continues to be home to a diverse mix of new immigrants to the city.
In the past, the term Lower East Side encompassed an area that included Alphabet City, the Bowery, Chinatown, Little Italy and the East Village neighborhoods. Today, this distinct area is bordered by Chinatown, the East Village and the East River. The neighborhood is experiencing gentrification with upscale restaurants, boutiques and high-end residential developments moving into the area. This has prompted the National Trust of Historic Preservation to consider the neighborhood for its endangered places list.
Visitors to the neighborhood will see a growing number of contemporary art galleries, such as the New Museum that is housed in a critically acclaimed building on the Bowery.