Since moving to New York City, I have always lived in Alphabet City. First I was on East 7th Street between Avenues C and D, and now I’m on East 2nd between First and A. I sometimes forget just how legendary this neighborhood is for the underground music, writing and film scene. I sometimes forget that the likes of Allen Ginsberg lived, at one time, on my street but just a block away when he wrote “Kaddish,” the riots that took place in Tompkins Square Park in 1988, how movements and people who would define generations squatted in these buildings, that Jean-Michel Basquiat decorated these haunted empty and scary streets with his graffiti that would eventually take him to stardom.
I was too young to have been privy to this, and by the time I arrived the neighborhood was no longer deemed terrifying; the heroin addicts had been cleaned up and gentrification was just a couple years away. Now these streets are littered with NYU students and people who, like me, pay a pretty penny to live here. However, despite this I have found a home in Alphabet City and it’s the past echoes that keep me here. I’m quite certain I could not live in any other neighborhood in New York City.
It’s hard not to love a place with such a gritty past.