During the 70s, the residents of Alphabet City were predominately Spanish speaking and mainly of Puerto Rican descent. The area was called Alphabet City because of the surrounding single-letter streets: Avenues A, B, C & D.
Alphabet City and the East Village were originally part of the Lower East Side. Based on what I found online, the area of the Lower East Side above Houston street became the East Village when a real estate developer wanted to piggyback on the popularity of Greenwich Village. The local Nuyorican1 denizens still considered Alphabet City part of the Lower East Side. The term Loisaida (pronounced low-ee-side-uh) is a Spanglish version of the pronunciation of Lower East Side. The word was popular with the Spanish-speaking community. They voted to make it official as the name of Avenue C in 1987.
The Lower East Side was traditionally an immigrant, working-class neighbourhood, but it began rapid gentrification in the mid-2000s. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has placed the area on their list of America's Most Endangered Places.
- According to the Internet, a "Nuyorican" is a Puerto Rican living in New York City. ↩