I walk around my neighborhood, the Lower East Side. I notice changes that have taken place. I see a lot of new buildings and stores that are now shut down and have reopened ti house new stores. The sotres that gave the old neighborhood a certain flavor are being closed because of high rents. Some of the small "spainsh delis" continue to live on... Many of the inhabitants are young working people who have high paying jobs or are NYU students . Both usually have roomates to afford the rents. Others that make up this neighborhood are middle-aged individuals who moved here years ago when the neighborhood wasn't safe but the rents were cheap. They continued living here and now are lucky to have families now and these same people were important in staring the alternative neighborhood schools because of the fact that they had kids of their own and needed new and better schools to house their children and give then an education which they deserved.
Some of the important feature of the Lower East Side are the community gardens many of which began to be developed 25 years ago! They are tended by neighborhood people and provide another safe space for people to come together and interact. It also is a place within the city where people who have a "green thumb" can participate, and enjoy. These little gardens help to make the city a healthier, greener, friendlier space. I remember from many years back the numerous times I went to the garden, Green Oasis to be specific, and how I plucked the flowers numberous times, and how I always offered to help my mom plant in her own little plot which at a young age I called our plt (although I didn't do much of the work because I was off lollygagging), and how I let my dogs run free in the garden as I chased after them soon wheezing from exhaustion.
I look around and I see and hear the HIspanic people You can always here them talking with their fellow Hispanics. Showing various emotions their words have a sort of rhythmic beat like a melody rolling along. I sit there and listen to the beautiful language that is being spoken.
I look around and I find that I have reached Tompkins Square Park. I see people taking their dogs to the newly opened "little dog-fun", and to the big dog run, and I notice the children playing on all the 3 playgrounds, which I rememer doing at a young age. There are basketball courts and hanball courts, there are many benches for sitting and enjoying the park view, talking with friends, or musicians getting together to "jam". There are large open spaces for many activities. Tompkin Square Park is the center of the Lower East Side. It is a place where people of different ages, backgrounds, and cultures come together to enjoy. I love Tompkin Square Park. In the summer the pool opens and crowds of people wait for HOURS just to get in. Someyimes I just chill wuth my friends in the park. We play soccer just to get some practice, play handball which as recently been a new activity for me., and we always take our dogs to the dog run on the weekeds to let them play around, and be free!
As I sit taking notes on my neighborhood my friend Stephanie calls me telling me she has invited me and my friend Tatiana to join her and he family at East River Park. Many people come here because there is a lot of space. This spaces provides a year-round area for people to walk, jog, and excercise, picnic, party or just enjoy being outside. THere is a large track which is used for running/jogging. There are numerous fields which are used for soccer, baseball,and lacrosse. The walkways are used by the bikers/skaters. I play soccer and my team and I always practice at East River Park on warm days. Heck the other day I was there trying out for select soccer. Me and my friends had ridden our bikes down and as I looked across the water to my left I saw many boats and buildings tha tlasy off in the distace. To my right was the busy highway streaming with cars, in a traffic jam.
The name commenly used to refer to my neighborhoood is Loisaida of translated Lower East Side. My neighborhood may have some bad parts but it is a very heart-watrming place. I'm happy to be part of this lively neighborhood because it truly is a neighborhood in a real way. It is different than any other neighborhood in the city I know of.
The story was posted on 2004-03-26