2. The Lower East Side is Home to the City’s First Housing Project

Lower East side from above

The Lower East Side has long been associated with tenement buildings and the poorest New Yorkers lived in infamously decrepit conditions in the 19th century. To address this problem, the city decided to rezone the area along the city’s waterfront to make room for public housing. According to Gothamist, the apartment complexes were intended to stretch over several blocks with playgrounds and public schools.

Although there was a public housing project already erected on East 3rd Street, it was not financed by the city — thus, the first city-funded development was actually the Lower East Side’s Vladeck Houses, built and maintained by the New York City Housing Authority. It’s named after Baruch Charney Vladeck, who was general manager of Yiddish newspaperThe Jewish Daily Forward, as well as a founding member of the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) in 1934.