An afternoon on the Lower East Side of New York City
When I emerged from the Delancey & Essex Streets Subway Station on New York’s Lower East Side (LES), I had only one place in mind to visit. I had recently heard of the Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street as being a rare opportunity to visualize the life of immigrants in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
From the station, I turned onto Orchard Street where old tenement buildings with their iconic fire escapes lined both sides of the street. At the museum, I learned that the tour I wanted to take wouldn’t start for over an hour, so I headed north on Orchard across Delancey Street to explore the neighborhood.
The boundaries of the Lower East Side are Canal St. to Houston St., and the East River to the Bowery in Lower Manhattan. There’s much history there as well as new business development, nightlife and music venues. Delancey Street is named after a French Huguenot family that owned much of the land in pre-revolutionary America. Some may know of it from the 1988 film, Crossing Delancey, that was set in the area.
Along the route, there were many types of shops and boutiques, some new and trendy while others must have been there for ages. I also saw many lounges and bars that were closed at that time of day.
I passed by intriguing French restaurants like Zucco Le French Diner above at 188 Orchard and Épicerie Café Charbon below at 168-170 Orchard (now closed).
I was particularly drawn to Lucien, a bistro at 14 1st Avenue. I peeked in the window and the look of the place gave me the feeling that I was in France. Although I wasn’t quite hungry for lunch, I decided to stop in for a glass of wine. Continue reading about my time at Lucien and meeting its charming owner in my article Enchanted by Lucien Bahaj.
Related guest post on Traveldudes:
New York’s Tenement Museum: An extraordinary look into the lives of immigrants
This is a great narrative… I feel like I’m in the Lower East Side too! I look forward to hearing about the Tenement Museum 🙂
Thanks, Michael. I’ve written about the Tenement Museum on the Traveldudes website. Check it out here: http://www.traveldudes.org/node/11960
I great simple yet completely uplifting story. Why aren’t more people in the hospitality industry like that!? When did I last get service like that – can’t think?
So true, John. Unfortunately there aren’t enough of those experiences where we really feel special. That’s why this was so memorable for me.
Thank you for a lovely trip down memory lane! I used to live near-ish to there many years ago, and I can’t believe how much it’s changed. I went to that museum a decade ago, at least, and I do know Lucien. So happy you enjoyed — excellent post!
Thanks, Abby. It must have been pretty cool to live around there. So glad the post brought back some good memories!
Wow, this is great! Sadly we don’t hear these kinds of stories enough, but it’s the type of thing that makes me want to fly to NYC and eat at their restaurant just to support them. 🙂
Well, Christy, if you do go to Lucien’s restaurant please tell them I sent you! 😉 Yes, it was one of those experiences that make you smile.
I’ve never been to NYC, but this post made me feel I was right there and loved the service you received.
Thanks, Laurel. So glad that I was able to convey the experience for you to enjoy, too.
What a charming story – you must have some charm of your own to attract these encounters. They never seem to happen to me! I get the crazy guy OUTSIDE the restaurant shouting at me…
Haha about the crazy guy of your experiences.
Flattered by your comment — you’ve got some charm of your own!
Oh the French are so charming when they want to be…
Very nice, I love how you give your personal insights on the places you visit in the US, you find unusual angles on well known spots!
Such a compliment, Angela — thank you!
I have never been to that part of NYC, but I will make sure to check it out the next time. What a lovely story, Cathy….Lucien was a very generous host indeed!
Thanks, Renee. I haven’t spent much time at all on the Lower East Side — now I can’t wait to go back.
What a wonderful encounter! Thanks for sharing.
I’ve never been to NYC but certainly you’re story had brought me there and thanks so much for the ride with it….:)
That’s the nicest kind of compliment I can get to have you feel that you’re along for the ride — thanks!
I need to go to NYC! That is all haha
That’s right, Jozef — when you’re current adventure is over, head to NYC!
NYC is the one place where I find the French restaurants to be as good as (if not better) the ones that are actually in France =) I so miss the food scene there in general, yum!
When I’m in NYC, I tend to go to French bistros quite a bit. I even try out my French sometimes (very badly).
Cathy, I loved this story! I didn’t want to you leave your new charming friend! This is my favorite part of traveling- finding and meeting new people and having great connections, especially when unexpected.
Thanks, Jade. I agree — It does seem like some of the best times traveling or in our daily lives are those that are unexpected.
This is excellent, good that the owner of the restaurant was so good, always nice to get something extra and a company when you are traveling alone.
Now looking foreword to your Tenement Museum tour story next 🙂
Thanks for your comment! I was pleased to write a post for Traveldudes about the museum. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow photos inside. Here’s the link to the post: http://www.traveldudes.org/node/11960
This is why I love NYC so much–you never know what you will find around the corner. So many great surprises!
I love NYC, too. I think that every time I’ve been there, I’ve found something new and it’s often just by chance!
Very nice and a glass of wine and prime seating most be nice. I seem to never have that much luck!
That kind of luck isn’t the norm for me either — that’s why it’s so special when it happens!
You got me with bordeaux and hand-kissing! Nobody does anything as chivalrous as that anymore.
I’m with you, Grace — nothing like wine and hand-kissing! And that glass of Cahors was particularly nice, by the way.
I love that area of the city. I’ve never heard of Lucien before. We’ll have to go check it our next time that we go visit my parents.
Loved your story but i never visited ny .This is my first visit to your website ll explore other post too
I love your style of writing…feels almost I have been there with you. Gotta make a note about Lucien’s 🙂
Lovely story. Keep up the good work.
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