Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
April 22, 2003
Lower East Side

We spent much of today walking around the Lower East Side. We strolled past the famous old knish bakery, fish deli and Katz's restaurant on East Houston before turning into the narrow streets of crumbling synagogues and tenement buildings. The tailors' shops, bookstores and schmutter merchants all had a poignant feel, of the Jews who formed this immigrant community from 1860 to at least the 1940's, before the Chinese immigration replaced them at the bottom rung of the ladder.

tenement building in the Lower East Side

Before we crossed the road, we were already in Chinatown. Bright reds and yellows, signs scribbled in Chinese, synagogues next to noodle factories and Buddhist temples, incense wafting through the air. A mob of Chinese people was gathered outside a closed bank, with several policemen trying to keep the crowd on the pavement. We stopped for dim sum at a busy restaurant. Steamed and fried dumplings and turnip cake served by waitresses, hustling between the tables with their metal trolleys.

Little Italy was a few blocks of the Mediterranean clinging on against the encroachment of Chinatown. Sultry waiters encouraged us to stop at their pavement cafes. Red, white and green bunting fluttered in the spring-like sunny breeze, and the theme from Godfather floated soundlessly through the streets.

As we emerged from the narrow streets, we found ourselves back in the shopping area of Broadway and Canal Street.

The day didn't end quite so well, with a disappointing seafood meal in Tribeca. Service in American restaurants can be even worse than in Britain - contradicting the much vaunted stereotype.

Posted by nathan at April 22, 2003 01:50 AM

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