The Lower East Side, sometimes abbreviated as LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan, roughly located between the Bowery and the East River, and Canal Street and Houston Street. Traditionally an immigrant, working class neighborhood, it began rapid gentrification in the mid-2000s, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to place the neighborhood on their list of America’s Most Endangered Places.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Lower East Side was 72,957, an increase of 699 (1.0%) from the 72,258 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 535.91 acres (216.88 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 136.1 inhabitants per acre (87,100/sq mi; 33,600/km). The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 22.6% (16,453) White, 10.9% (7,931) African American, 0.2% (142) Native American, 24.9% (18,166) Asian, 0.0% (13) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (191) from other races, and 1.6% (1,191) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 39.6% (28,870) of the population.
The entirety of Community District 3, which comprises the Lower East Side and East Village, had 171,103 inhabitants as of NYC Health’s 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 82.2 years. This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are adults: a plurality (35%) are between the ages of 25–44, while 25% are between 45–64, and 16% are 65 or older. The ratio of youth and college-aged residents was lower, at 13% and 11% respectively.
As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 3 was $39,584, though the median income in the Lower East Side individually was $51,649. In 2018, an estimated 18% of Lower East Side and East Village residents lived in poverty, compared to 14% in all of Manhattan and 20% in all of New York City. One in twelve residents (8%) were unemployed, compared to 7% in Manhattan and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 48% in the Lower East Side and East Village, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 45% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018, the Lower East Side and East Village are considered to be gentrifying.