Once notoriously overcrowded and gritty, the Lower East Side has evolved into one of Manhattan’s coolest neighborhoods. It’s the birthplace of street art, the epicenter of NYC music and nightlife, and a neighborhood defined by the adventurous trendsetters of the current generation. Though it’s one of the oldest areas in the city, the LES has always had a knack for attracting the newest — and most cutting-edge — restaurants, shops and galleries. Visitors quickly discover the creative energy that draws Manhattanites here night after night — and that few other neighborhoods offer such a complete New York City experience.
The Lower East Side has always been a melting pot of people and ideas. The area became the prime residence for immigrants passing through Ellis Island in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and played a huge role in one of the greatest moments of cultural diffusion in the greatest city in the world. In the ’60s, a wave of musicians and artists took up residence in Lower Manhattan, and transformed the area into a realm of experimental art. This territory became known for its rebellious, youthful and bold nature — qualities reflected in the graffiti art that coated the streets in the ’80s and ’90s. Blondie, the Ramones and Madonna are just a few of the artists who made a name and an impact here.
Another name familiar to Lower East Siders is Lee Quinones, local legend and street-art pioneer. Find one of his latest works on the ceiling of Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York’s 14th-floor sky lobby; this overhead mural is an homage to the area’s most creative minds. It’s just one of the ways in which the neighborhood’s art infuses the hotel’s design from top to bottom. Explore the ground floor to find street names painted on brick walls, locally inspired ironwork and avant-garde sculptures from Mr. Brainwash. Guest rooms, too, nod to the street-art culture outside. That spray-paint can sitting on your mini-bar? It’s a cocktail shaker in disguise.
The Lower East Side is a place that radiates style, from its inhabitants to its bright, graffiti-painted streets. You’ll see it whether you’re eating (and sipping) an epic brunch, catching a live show at one of the hallowed LES music venues or cocktailing scandalously until the break of dawn. This area continues to be known for its underground exclusivity, and adventurers find comfort here. The experience of the LES is like no other.