The Villager revisits the topic this week. So, if you live within the geographical boundaries of 14th Street to Houston, Fourth Avenue/Bowery to the East River, then is it the Lower East Side or the East Village? Opinions vary! Tempers flare!
Among the people weighing in on LES vs. EV is Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation:
“I think the East Village does have a clear identity separate from the broader Lower East Side, but it clearly also has an identity as part of it, as well,” stated Berman. “It seems that of late there has been a revival of that thinking, and I find many people, especially neighborhood activists, are seeking to rejoin the East Village to the broader Lower East Side and re-identify with it. Interestingly, this may reflect the fact that today the East Village and the Lower East Side in many ways share more in common than they have since the 1960s when the ‘East Village’ identity was first created and the blocks north of Houston St. began to develop a distinct ‘bohemian’ character.”
Both areas are struggling equally with issues of overdevelopment, large-scale gentrification and the difficulty of longtime residents and businesses being able to afford to stay here.
“Not only are they once again very similar in character,” Berman said of the two areas, “but I think in many ways they are seeking to hearken back to the days before the big high-rises, frat bars and exorbitant rents swept over the neighborhood — and the name ‘Lower East Side,’ which is less associated with the gentrification process than ‘East Village,’ may be one way of doing that.”