“This is a show about a very special place. A very special time. And some very special people. So much happened—so much began—on New York’s Lower East Side.

“The Lower East Side was in many ways the cradle of New York: where new arrivals first settled, built communities, and later moved on to be replaced by others. In the New York City of the ’70s, nearly bankrupt and riddled with corruption, the Lower East Side—particularly Alphabet City—was left to fend for itself. Huge swaths of it were abandoned, ruined, or simply empty. Much of it became an open-air supermarket for drugs. Whole blocks were taken over by organized drug gangs. Rents were cheap, and the neighborhood started to attract a newer, highly energized and creative group of people who wanted to make things: music, poetry, movies, and art.

“It seemed, at the time, everybody was a star. And for a while at least it was a golden time. But it was dangerous. If you lived down here, you had to be tough and talented—and often very quick.”

This note is excerpted from Bourdain’s narration of the episode.