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Curbed Cup 1st round: (1) Lower East Side vs. (16) Roosevelt Island

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Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours so you can cast your vote as to which ones should advance. Let the eliminations commence!


Lower East Side (1)

First up is a neighborhood that needs no introduction: the Lower East Side.

Why is it our No. 1 seed? A few major developments have pushed the neighborhood to the forefront of the real estate conversation, chief among them Essex Crossing, which—50 years after the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area was created—finally welcomed its first residents this year. The megaproject will bring even bigger changes to the area next year, as much of its retail and public-facing spaces (including the Market Line and a park designed by West 8) debut.

Essex Crossing isn’t the only big thing happening, though: There are literally thousands of new apartments coming to the neighborhood, many of them on the high end of things; as we put it this summer, “the next wave of Lower East Side gentrification is on,” thanks in part to this building boom.

It also continues to be one of New York’s epicenters for nightlife and culture, with a seemingly unstoppable wave of new restaurants, hotels (including Ian Schrager’s buzzy Public Hotel, which opened this year), shops, galleries, and more.


Roosevelt Island (16)

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s sleepy Roosevelt Island, wedged between Manhattan and Queens but seemingly in a world of its own. Though it isn’t exactly a bustling hub for new housing, there have been several new developments in the past few years that have brought renewed attention to the island.

FDR Four Freedoms Park, which opened five years ago, has already cemented its place as a city landmark, and the debut this fall of Cornell Tech’s new campus, situated just south of the Queensboro Bridge, was another game-changer.

In addition to bringing new blood to the island—thousands of students and faculty are expected to call it home over the next few years—the three buildings that make up the campus have also given Roosevelt Island more architectural interest, thanks to designs by Weiss/Manfredi, Morphosis, and Handel Architects. (A Snøhetta-designed hotel will soon join them.) For those who don’t call the island home, there’s now more reason to take the tram than just for the views.

But now, the decision is in your hands: Which area should advance? Cast your vote below, and may the best neighborhood win.