Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yonah Shimmel and the Evolution of Main Street

On today's Main Street tour I had the pleasure of the company of Molly Rose Kaufman and Rachel Bland, urbanists in Orange, NJ. We started on Valley Road which runs through The Valley, a former industrial area on the border of West Orange/Orange. The area is being infused with new life as an arts district, and Valley Road is reviving its part as the local Main Street. We admired a new mural, had wonderful pizza at Rock-It Pizza, and checked out several new eateries that are coming soon. The comeback of Valley Road is fun and impressive. From there, we went to a completely different stretch of Main Street, East Houston Street in New York, where we had a second course of our lunch, knishes at Yonah Shimmel's Knishery. I've been going to Yonah Shimmel's for decades. Absolutely the best knishes in the world. What could be a better food than something that combines mashed potatoes and a wafer thin dough? But the context of Yonah Shimmel's has changed dramatically. The Lower East Side is several decades further down the road of arts district evolution that Valley Road is on, and the change is bittersweet, I find. I really liked going to the movies at Sunshine Theater, and would have stopped at Whole Foods. But I missed the exceptional neighborhood it used to be, flooded with people inventing how to be American.

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