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ON the Lower East Side

The newspaper headlines read:

“Dell Dude Arrested with Pot ON the Lower East Side”

“The Lower East Side” is a name of the neighborhood. You would not say he was arrested ON Chelsea. Why would you use “ON”?

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I agree it's more likely it should read 'in' the lower east side.... I wouldn't turn to newspapers in general for help with grammer...this is probably just a case of colloquial english.

Merge February 11, 2003, 8:11pm

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Just to play devil's advocate: Could 'On' refer to which SIDE the man was located at? I mean, I agree that taken as the name of a neighborhood, "IN" would be more appropriate, but in the strictest sense of the term, I would say that I'm ON this SIDE as opposed to that one, or that she's ON my side of the block.
Since SIDE implies a number of other theoretical sides that aren't this particular one at hand... If nothing else this is evidence that the editor/journalist of the article in question may not necessarily be a native of New York.

fulgiatore February 13, 2003, 11:08pm

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I agree with fulgiatore.

"The Lower East Side" is actually just a shortened form of "The lower east side of Manhattan", which makes the term "lower east side" a description of the location as opposed to "Chelsea", Gotham", or other such proper names of neighborhoods.

More cautious (or less word count conscious) folks might have written "'Dell Dude' arrested in the lower east side neighborhood".

It is as accurate to say "on the lower east side of manhattan" as it is to say "on the west side of Fifth Avenue".

HonBancho February 15, 2003, 4:49am

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The reporter was correct. It's colloquial New York usage.

This isn't a 100% reliable rule, but in general, regional designations are "on" -- the Upper West Side, the Lower East Side, etc. -- but you're "in" specific neighborhoods: Midtown, Chelsea, Harlem, Soho, Tribeca, Gramercy Park, etc.

It gets interesting. There's a large swath of Brooklyn that's "on the Slope"; that is, on the long westward downslope from Prospect Park to the waterfront. Only part of that area can be described as being "in Park Slope", a specific neighborhood south of Fort Green and east of Carroll Gardens.

Even better, there's a Lower East Side neighborhood called Loisaida, which is just "Lower East Side" as pronounced by its Hispanic inhabitants. If you're in that neighborhood, you're in Loisaida, but you're on the Lower East Side.

The boroughs are all "in" -- in Brooklyn, in the Bronx, in Queens -- except for Staten Island, which can be "in" or "on" as the speaker prefers.

tnh March 17, 2003, 4:33pm

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I'm not sure what the actual rule is but it is actually dependent on what you are describing.
For example to say "the dog was on the roof" is appropriate, but then again you wouldn't say "the dog was on the basement" would you?

Both are houses, right?

Same with transportation, you can get ON the train, ON or IN the bus, or ON or IN the plane, but not ON the car.

nil March 18, 2003, 4:16am

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When discussing locations in a city based on "side", I have never heard any other preposition besides "on". First thing that popped into my head (showing my age) is "On the south side of Chicago" from the song THE NIGHT CHICAGO DIED".

Other examples would be:
"On the other side of town..."
"Love on the wrong side of town.."
"On the sunny side of the street..."
"On golden pond..." (okay, that didn't actually apply, but Henry Fonda was the BOMB)

And why do we say "On the outskirts?"

Would you be "under the inskirts?"

barridian March 18, 2003, 4:21am

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Anyone saying "in the Lower East Side" would be no longer be allowed to remain *in* New York City. Teresa is absolutely accurate.

choire March 18, 2003, 7:48am

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The sentence is correct as it stands.

"Dell Dude Arrested with Pot ON the Lower East Side [of New York City]"

Charles March 18, 2003, 7:57am

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speaking of new york linguistic peculiarities

why does the Bronx get a definite article, when the rest of the boroughs are article-less

furthermore, "downtown" and "uptown" in New York imply the location on the y-axis. In other cities, "downtown" means the commercial/tall-building-ed part of the city, which in New York, is more Mid-town than downtown these days.

that, and in New York "deli" means a place where you can buy beer, cigarettes, lotto tickets, and things like that, and maybe, just maybe, has some twenty-year old lunch meat and stale bread

quitpeut March 18, 2003, 12:23pm

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Ryan, somehow the folks in Dothan, Alabama do ride 'on the car'. And if you were going with friends and you were doing the driving you'd be 'carryin' them on your car'.

Guess that what is really correct may depend on where it's being said. Or "When in Rome........?"

rnoble April 9, 2003, 11:39am

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Ryan, I think I can hazard a guess as to why one gets on a train. Originally the term "train" meant any group of conveiances travelling together in something approaching a single file. So one would travel through the desert on a camel, with the camels in a train. With the steam (and later electric) locomotive taking over much of the cross country travel duties from wagons and horses, train came to generally mean the locomotive and the railroad cars pulled by it.

Since one gets on wagons, camels, horses, ships, etc. the use of on continues for all things which can be trained (I think that is the correct verb) together for transportation.

searcher April 10, 2003, 8:16pm

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exsouthern belle,

"When 'on' Rome" perhaps ;)

Shane June 26, 2003, 3:57am

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The reason is because of the reference to a 'side', in this case the side of the island of Manhattan. Sides are 2-dimentional and therefore you cannot be 'in' a side, only 'on' it. If this area of Manhattan had been named the Lower East Corner, then you could be 'in' it. It is a only because New Yorkers termed the LES as including an area inside the shoreline that this anomaly exists.

phil August 1, 2003, 12:15am

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