Always a place for liberal ideas, and later associated with communism and socialism, the Lower East Side was for many years a deprived area sandwiched between the already gentrified East Village and the East River.
In the 1980s, artists colonised the neighbourhood and today the Lower East Side is brimming with unique boutiques and trendy innovative restaurants that sit back-to-back with traditional Jewish delis.
The knish, an inelegant brownish pasty, is a quintessential New York food. It has been claimed variously by Jewish immigrants from Russia, Poland and Ukraine.
Typically onions are caramelised in chicken fat and added to mashed potato before being wrapped in thin, pliant dough and baked.
The stodgy knish was effective at filling the bellies of the poor immigrants who crowded the tenements of this working-class, ethnically diverse neighbourhood in the early 20th century, when as many as 400,000 Jews lived in the area.
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Russ & Daughters Cafe, the offshoot of a fourth-generation family store, brims with haimish, Yiddish for a warm and cosy welcome.
Accompany the knish with an egg cream, a milky chocolate soda strangely containing neither egg or cream, and thought to have originated among the eastern European Jewish community.
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Photographs: Dreamstime; Ed Rooney/Alamy; Citizen of the Planet/Alamy; Richard Levine/Alamy; Sean Pavone/Alamy