Before the hipsters moved into Manhattan’s Lower East Side, with their trendy coffee shops and stationery boutiques, the area was a thoroughly working class kind of place. People like the Marx Brothers, Robert De Nero and Lou Reed grew up there, and it was synonymous with the ‘city that never sleeps’ image that New York once held in the popular imagination. The neighbourhood was added to the list of America’s most endangered places in 1998. This was largely in recognition of its 19thand early-20th century architecture – its tall tenements in particular now standing as memorials to a rich urban history.
The New York Times recently made a short film showing Rita Ascione, one of the last living residents of the Lower East Side building that is now the Tenement Museum, returning with her daughter to see her old apartment. It's a fascinating and moving story.