For residents, New York is a city of neighborhoods
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Eighty years ago, the Lower East Side was a slum teeming with impoverished Jews from the shtetlach of Eastern Europe and Russia. Today it is where New Yorkers go to shop for bargains. The tenements are still there, reminders of the days when beds were rented in shifts, to accommodate both day and night workers. Now the stores sell fashionable clothing, expensive appliances, and designer fabrics at the best prices in town. In spite of the changes, much of the flavor of the old neighborhood remains in the shops run by Hasidic Jews, the stalls selling chocolate egg creams, the clothing hung on outdoor racks.Skip to next paragraph
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Beginning at the Grand Street subway station, the stores immediately to the east sell linens, towels, and blankets. At Orchard Street, shops on the left feature inexpensive clothing, while those on the right sell better-quality merchandise, including designer jeans and leather jackets and coats. As one continues on Grand to Essex, the tempting smells wafting from the right signal the Pickleman's store with its barrels of red peppers, pickles, and sauerkraut standing open on the sidewalk.
The premier eating spot of the Lower East Side is Sammy's Roumanian, a warm, happy place that serves huge quantities of food redolent of garlic. It's at 157 Christie Street. Sammy's is closed Friday nights and Saturdays, as are all the local businesses, because of the Jewish Sabbath. The Ninth Avenue Market
The great migrations of the turn of the century consisted primarily of poor people, and they brought with them their hearty peasant cuisines. Often these included foods to be eaten by hand: Jewish knishes, Chinese egg rolls, and overstuffed Italian sandwiches. On Ninth Avenue near 37th Street is a store that has taken the tradition to ridiculous lengths. Manganaro's sells a custom-made, six-foot-long submarine sandwich, enough food to feed 30 to 40 people. They claim that it is a favorite at chic East Side parties.
At lunch hour, the store is filled with local workmen eating heroes of meatballs and sauce, veal and peppers, and other messy delights, while shoppers from uptown buy homemade mozzarella and Italian sausage at the groceria next door.
Manganaro's is in the heart of Italian Ninth Avenue, a street where immigrants opened fruit stands, butcher shops, and bakeries. Over the years, Greeks, Puerto Ricans, and Chinese have introduced markets of their own, and now the area is a cornucopia of exotic foods. Spices sold in little tin cans in supermarkets are displayed here in multicolored rows of open sacks. Dried cod, bacala, stands rigid against the walls. Sunday in Harlem
The largest of the new neighborhoods was fed not by foreigners, but by Americans from the Southern states, and it grew until it became a city within the city.
Harlem is a blend of Africa, the Caribbean, the deep South, and the city, a world-famous symbol of, variously, racial oppression, black pride, revolution, resignation, and hope. Like all stereotypes, these distort rather than reveal the truth, but for those who wish to see a bit of the real Harlem, a unique tour provides a brief exposure to the roots of black American music. Called the Harlem Spiritual Gospel Tour, it leaves from 166 West 46th Street on Sunday mornings for a ride through not only the slums of Harlem, but the upper-middle-class homes of Sugar Hill and Strivers Row.
It culminates with a church service at the First Corinthian Baptist Church, chosen because it expresses the exaltation of spirit that found a home in the black church. Here, among the warm and welcoming congregation, the visitor experiences an aspect of a culture that may be very different from his or her own.
Reservations for the tour, which costs $22, may be made by calling (212) 275- 1418. SoHo