10 Great Wi-Fi Cafes In NYC’s Lower East Side

As a freelance writer without an office to call home, it was probably inevitable that I would become intimately familiar with the cafes in my neighborhood. Thankfully, the Lower East Side of New York City offers dozens of options, each with different atmospheres but all with great gourmet coffee and blazing fast Wi-Fi.

In recent months, I’ve fallen into a steady rotation of these establishments, with the selection of each day’s “office” based upon a careful calculation of that day’s assignments, my budget, food cravings, the weather and my mood. Do I have to hunker down with my laptop for the entire afternoon? Berkli Parc has tons of electrical outlets. Is it focus time? Bruschetteria’s free Wi-Fi has a block on social media sites. Do I feel like being transported to Mykonos for the afternoon? The white walls and open windows at Souvlaki GR do the trick.

Hopefully, this roundup of my favorite Lower East Side Wi-Fi cafes will assist you in finding the right spot for you.

Berkli Parc
Run by a UC-Berkeley alum, this cafe successfully invokes the laidback organic spirit of northern California … without all the tree huggers.
Pros: laptop-friendly, plentiful outlets, daily happy hour with $4 craft beers and $5 wines
Cons: pricy sandwiches, few breakfast options
63 Delancey Street

If you really need to focus, take advantage of Bruschetteria’s Internet ban on social media. Your deadlines will thank you.
Pros: super attentive staff, great natural light, $12.50 two-course lunch special with wine
Cons: very small, few outlets
92 Rivington Street

Souvlaki GR
Feel like an escape? Head to popular gyro spot Souvlaki GR, where the white walls, pink bougainvillea and smell of grilled meat will instantly transport you to Mykonos.
Pros: unique atmosphere, delicious food
Cons: limited outlets, only coffee options are Nescafe and thick Greek “Elliniko” coffee
116 Stanton Street

Located under the trendy Thompson LES hotel, Konditori combines Swedish coffee tradition with a Brooklyn sensibility. The space is light and airy, if small.
Pros: opens early, delicious Swedish pastries
Cons: few tables, uncomfortable seating
182 Allen Street

88 Orchard
A neighborhood anchor, 88 Orchard offers an extensive menu and two levels of seating, though the sunnier upper level is more suited to conversation than computers.
Pros: rustic atmosphere, locally-sourced food options
Cons: outlets only available on dim underground lower level, weekend no-laptop policy on upper level
88 Orchard Street

Spend enough time at D’espresso and you’ll see why it’s a neighborhood favorite. The coffee is on the pricier side, but the friendly staff makes up for it.
Pros: extensive beverage options, plentiful outlets, minimalist decor
Cons: high prices, no bathrooms, heavy foot traffic
100 Stanton Street

Founded more than a decade ago, Earthmatters is a true community hub, offering a place where people can gather, shop, eat, talk and yes, use the free Wi-Fi.
Pros: low prices, great community, large variety of organic and natural foods
Cons: laptops only allowed upstairs with minimum food purchase
177 Ludlow Street

Originally co-founded by Moby, Teany is one of the city’s best known vegan teahouses. Though it’s changed management multiple times over the past few years, it’s still a good bet for great tea, though the food and service can be hit-or-miss.
Pros: hundreds of tea varieties, outdoor seating
Cons: few outlets, inconsistent food and service
90 Rivington Street

Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop
Huge glass windows and a corner location make Tiny’s the perfect place for people watching when you need to take your eyes off your laptop.
Pros: great natural light, cheap coffee, inventive sandwiches
Cons: no outlets, hit-or-miss staff
129 Rivington Street

The Bean
Technically over the “border” in the East Village, The Bean’s three new locations offer sunny window seats and free doggie biscuits for neighborhood canines.
Pros: friendly atmosphere, plentiful outlets, open late
Cons: always crowded, often difficult to find seating
Three locations at 54 2nd Avenue, 147 1st Avenue, and 824 Broadway

[Images: H.L.I.T., Robert Barat]

Museum Month: The Tenement Museum In New York’s Lower East Side

Often, the sights that are just around the corner are the ones that you somehow never get around to exploring. You say that you’ll go one day, but there’s never a real rush. You tell yourself that it will always be there.

For me, that sight is the Tenement Museum, located in the heart of New York City‘s Lower East Side, a block and a half from the apartment I’ve called home for the past three years.

The Tenement Museum celebrates New York’s immigrants by exploring the history of a single tenement building at 97 Orchard Street, built in 1863. From the outside, the museum doesn’t look too different from the other apartment buildings on the block, including my own. But inside lies a rich tapestry of stories tracking the major immigration waves of the 19th- and 20th- centuries, starting with the Germans and followed by Eastern European Jews and Italians.

There are three ways to experience the Tenement Museum: by exploring the carefully restored apartments at 97 Orchard; by taking walking tours of the neighborhood; or by attending a “meet the residents” session, which allows guests to interact with costumed interpreters depicting people who once lived in the building.

On a recent Sunday, I opted for a building tour that was focused on the experience of sweatshop workers. At one time, the Lower East Side was the center of the American garment industry, particularly in the 1860s when the neighborhood was bustling with workers churning out Civil War military uniforms. Most work was completed in small home-based garment workshops, in cramped and often overheated quarters.

The tour started with a visit to the garment workshop of Harris Levine, a Russian tailor whose 1900 census data provided the basis for the space’s recreation. The guide explained how workers would work an average of 70 hours per week, crammed into tiny quarters along with the boss’s wife and children.

Once garment factories were introduced at the turn of the century, units at 97 Orchard became slightly more spacious and tailored for family living. A visit to the Rogarshevsky apartment, which was inhabited in the 1910s and 1920s, provided a look at the changing nature of the neighborhood as immigrants started to assimilate and economic conditions started to improve.

The building was condemned in 1935, which is where the museum’s focus ends. But stepping out into the traffic and construction of Allen Street, it was evident that life in today’s Lower East Side isn’t too different from the world depicted inside the Tenement Museum. It is still a neighborhood of immigrants, crammed together in tiny apartments, working like maniacs to survive… just today with higher rents and more espresso bars.

[Images via Tenement Museum]

Low Line may become New York’s first underground park

The High Line park in New York City has received widespread acclaim for its excellent reuse of old, elevated rail. Formerly a freight line that ran along part of the west side of Manhattan, a slice of track was recently seeded with plant and parklife to create a stretch of elevated public space running through the city, and the High Line is now a must-see for many visitors to the city.

So how else can old space be repurposed for the public good? By creating underground parks, of course. New York Magazine released renderings of a proposed Delancey Underground or “Low Line” this weekend that shows a potential plan to turn an abandoned trolley station in the lower east side into a public park, complete with piped in light from the surface above.

The community is set to start discussing the project later this month, and depending on their outcome, the park could begin development soon thereafter.

Check out the full spectrum of renderings over at the NY Mag website.

Gadling’s 2011 NYC summit / NoFF happy hour recap

One week ago, the nefarious crew here at Gadling assembled from all parts of the globe to gather in the Big Apple for our annual team summit. Led by Gadling’s steadfast Editor-in-Chief & tequila pusher, Mr. Grant Martin, the team took to the bustling streets of NYC for a weekend of strategizing, socializing, pool sharking, and vital face time.

The highlights of the weekend (from what we can remember) included a travel/tech panel organized & curated by Gadling’s own Jeremy Kressmann; where Drew Patterson (CEO of Jetsetter), Geoff Lewis (CEO of Topguest) and Grant Martin discussed the present and future of social media’s impact on loyalty programs.

On Saturday evening, we had the pleasure of teaming up once again with the boys at the Nomading Film Festival to wrangle some of the top NYC-based talent in the travel industry for our second happy hour of 2011. Hosted at the Lolita Bar in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, we convened over a special pouring

of 17 Year Old Fine Oak & 18 Year Old Sherry Oak Single Malts from the Macallan. A sensible amount of scotch & tequila was consumed, new friends were made, old friends reunited, and when the fine folks at Mastercard & Travelocity started feeling generous, coveted gifts (and gnomes) were raffled.


We couldn’t have asked for a better group to share the celebrations with; thank you to all that were able to make it. If you missed us this time around, then scroll through the gallery above to see the photos that we were allowed to publish. If you want the uncensored version, you’ll just have to join us next time!

New York City can make you deaf: new study links city noise to hearing loss

The locals hate midtown, and we just got another reason why.

It turns out that visiting the most heavily trafficked neighborhood in Manhattan could be hazardous to your health. Noise is the problem. Of course, it comes as no shock that parts of Manhattan can be quite loud. People, taxi horns and construction represent just part of the list that can rattle your ears and, eventually, cost you your hearing.

According to a study being released today at the International Conference on Urban Health at The New York Academy of Medicine, there are several neighborhoods where the risk to your hearing is substantial, especially for residents who become accustomed to it over time.

My Fox New York reports:

Most readings – even in several small parks meant to be oases of green and calm – were above 70 decibels. People whose daily noise exposure tops an average of 70 decibels can lose some of their hearing over time, said Richard Neitzel, a University of Washington research scientist and another of the study’s authors.

The result, of course, is that people have nowhere to go for a little peace and quiet.

Some of the noisiest spots in the city aren’t where you’d think to find them. Of course, midtown is noisy, but First Avenue above 14th Street? Broadway in Inwood? Well, these are the city’s trucking routes, which kicks up the decibels a bit. The Lower East Side, East Village and West Village, it seems, have fewer buffers and the added complication of nightlife – not a problem on the Upper West Side (I can assure you), which is fairly quiet.

[photo by joiseyshowaa via Flickr]