Meet 3rd Street
What a difference crossing the avenues can make. From Avenue D to the Bowery (where 3rd Street becomes Great Jones Street), and from Broadway westward into collegiate territory, 3rd Street changes drastically from block to block. The scholar, the performer, the conventional, the high-profiler and everyone in between are all locals here. This side street is home to New York University, Nuyorican Poets Café, one of the most popular street basketball courts in Manhattan, the legendary Blue Note jazz club, multiple community gardens, Most Holy Redeemer Church and Anderson Cooper’s renovated 1906 firehouse.
We were curious about the origins of a street sign at 3rd and Avenue C that reads Loisaida. Some research turned up articles telling us that in the 1970’s, this neighborhood of the East Village was a largely Spanish-speaking community. After a poem by the Puerto Rican writer and actor, Bimbo Rivas, coined the term Loisaida in his poem of the same title that he wrote as a love letter to his neighborhood, the Latino phrase for “Lower East Side” took hold. It was immortalized in the 1980’s with the street sign that still stands, even though the area has become significantly more diverse.
The distinct Latin flavor of the Lower East Side remains alive on 3rd Street. Some of the remarkable examples we found on our excursions include the two gardens, Jardin Los Amigos and Brisas Del Caribe Garden, a Dominican bakery named Rossy’s, the infamous shack known as Maria’s Cafe, a tried-and-true Cuban mom-and-pop establishment in Cafe Cortadito, and several churches with Spanish-speaking congregations.
“Great” is an appropriate tag for the little stretch of 3rd Street between Broadway and The Bowery. As the story goes, Samuel Jones, the city’s first comptroller, ceded land to New York in 1806 on the condition that any street running through the land must be named after him. Since there was already a Jones Street in Manhattan named after his brother-in-law, Samuel insisted his street be called “Great Jones Street” to put an end to any confusion. Once again, the addresses on Great Jones also appear on the opposite side of the street – the even numbers on the north and the odd numbers on the south – just as they are on 1st and 2nd Streets. Not only is Great Jones Street unusually wide for a New York City side street, but it also boasts landmark buildings erected in the 1800’s, several terrific shops, galleries and excellent restaurants. Together with Great Jones Street, East and West 3rd Street will provide something appealing for everyone to explore. Each place on this remarkable side street certainly kept us happily wandering!