What’s in a Name? LES Branded with New Term, “NOLO”

In a recent article by Travel & Leisure, author Jason Chen states that there is “No cooler neighborhood mashup” then where “parts of Soho and Nolita bumps against the Lower East Side.”

He then describes the district as, “NOLO.”


First of all, for the newcomers and uninitiated, the traditional boundaries of the Lower East Side are Broadway to the East River, west to east, and City Hall to 14th Street, south to north. So that does include what some consider today’s NoHo, NoLita, Little Italy, Chinatown, East Village, Alphabet City, and Two Bridges — all place names only recently bestowed upon our iconic neighborhood.

If you plopped my parents or grandparents down on the corner of E. Houston Street and Bowery, and asked them, “Which way to NoHo?” they would look at you cross eyed, even though all were born and raised within blocks of the location.

This dissecting of the Lower East Side began in the 1960s when the term “East Village” (or “Village East”) came about to breath new life into the real estate market, disassociate the district from it’s immigrant/working-class/working-poor roots, and draw renters looking to be close to the trendy Greenwich Village.

Since then, new terms have popped up regularly. NoHo came about in the 1990s. NoLita only about a decade ago. And by the way, have you heard yet of “BelDel” (Below Delancey)? Or “LiChi” (Little Italy/Chinatown)? Yes, these are real place names somebody is trying to run with.

I don’t blame people for trying something new, but it makes my job as local historian/tour guide/real estate agent more difficult when walking down Avenue A, citing the Lower East Side, and my guest says, “I thought we were in the East Village?”


Eric Ferrara

I'm a 4th generation Lower East Sider, professional NYC history author, movie & TV consultant & personality, founder of Lower East Side History Project, and real estate agent at LOHO Realty.

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