My LES: Caroline Kruse
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What do you do?
I am the Development Director at the Lower East Side Ecology Center, which means my day lands somewhere between writing grants, leading corporate volunteer groups, planning fundraisers, and building up our electronic waste recycling program.
How long have you lived on the LES?
Favorite block in the hood?
I live on 9th Street between First and Avenue A, and I’m pretty obsessed with my block.
Favorite date spot in the hood?
Apizz on Eldridge Street. They have this amazing oven right in the dining area and it’s romantic without being dark and awkward.
Favorite coffee in the hood?
Mud Coffee on 9th Street.
Favorite cheap eats in the hood?
Caracas Arepa Bar on 7th Street.
Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?
This little tour has happened more than any other: Start on Sunday morning later than we should. Try Clinton Street Baking Co. for breakfast. Fail. Doughnut Plant. Success. Wander past the Pickle Guys, maybe a street market or two, browse Chinatown, then end up on the ferry to Ikea. Hit the New Amsterdam Market at Fulton Street on the way back and grab a beer as soon as the visitors are starting to look glassy-eyed.
Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?
The Belgian Room, especially when you get pomme frites with your beer.
How has the neighborhood changed in the last few years?
There are more stores sitting empty for longer, which is a shame. It’s starting to seem like the only places that can make rent are restaurants and bars. It’s not that I don’t like new places, but it feels very unsustainable, long term.
Favorite LES memory?
I have my job at the Ecology Center to thank for re-introducing me to my bike — in the summer of 2010, I rode my bike from Seattle to NYC over the course of seven weeks. The last day, we started at 6 a.m. and rode over one hundred miles, in blazing summer heat, to end up at the beach under the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was starting to set. Then we rode up through East River Park to the ‘hood and ate a massive meal at Zum Schneider. I just remember thinking how good it felt to be home.