VIDEO: Katz’s Deli Owner Shares Stories of the Shady LES of 20 Years Ago

Posted On Mon, February 16, 2015 By

Posted On Mon, February 16, 2015 By In Lower East Side, Video

By now many of you have probably seen this amazing video showing a changing Lower East Side circa 1995. While plenty of colorful characters and weirdness abound, let’s not forget that the area at the time was also one of the city’s most unsafe. As part of the new video series called “True Yorkers,” Katz’s Deli owner Alan Dell reflects on the Lower East Side that once was—well before it transformed into the bar crawl we know today. Sharing his own memories of the neighborhood as a kid, and more poignantly his opinion of what it has become, Dell’s recount really makes you think about just how severely pacified and homogenous today’s version of New York is.

“A lot of people from the neighborhood moved away…I just can’t get used to it,” Dell says in the episode. “I have customers talking about their million dollar penthouse on Rivington Street—it blows my mind. The Bowery was unsavory, there used to be bums, I don’t even know if kids know what a bum is…You know, they call it progress, I’m not really sure about that. It’s a mixed bag…15-20 years ago we were closing early. Unless you were coming to buy crack late at night over here, it was not safe…it’s just changed. It’s just different.”

[Via Bowery Boogie]

[Related: VIDEO: Visit the Wonderfully Weird Lower East Side of 1995]

[Related: Mapping the Evolution of the Lower East Side Through a Jewish Lens, 1880-2014]

[Related: Katz’s Deli Co-Owner Jake Dell Nabs $1.9 Million Greenwich Village Pad]

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