Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan has long been known for its discount shopping, leading to the nickname of the “Bargain District.” The early 20th-century entrepreneurs were frequently Jewish immigrants from Russia.
The nickname “Yashkin Street” (Jacob’s Street or Jake’s Street—Jacob being a common Russian name) was a popular destination request for Russians visiting New York City. “Yashkin Street” has been cited in print since at least 1979. The businesses of Orchard Street have changed and the name “Yashkin Street” is seldom used today.
Wikipedia: Orchard Street (Manhattan)
Orchard Street is a street in Manhattan which covers the eight city blocks between Division Street in Chinatown and East Houston Street on the Lower East Side. Vehicular traffic runs north on this one-way street.
From south to north, Orchard Street starts from Division Street, intersects Hester Street, Grand Street, Broome Street, Delancey Street, Rivington Street and Stanton Street, and ends at East Houston Street.
Orchard Street is often considered the center of the Lower East Side and is lined end to end almost entirely with low-rise tenement building with the iconic brick face and fire escapes. First known as Kleindeutschland, or “Little Germany,” later a Jewish enclave, the neighborhood has been home to first generation immigrants from the mid 19th Century to the present day. The street’s past as the heart of the immigrant experience is captured at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s centerpiece, the restored 97 Orchard Street tenement.
The street is known for its discount shopping - Orchard Street was long the Lower East Side’s main marketing thoroughfare. There are several lingerie shops and Orthodox Jewish-owned men’s suit stores below Delancey Street, while discount clothing and luggage stores dominate the block between Delancey and Rivington Streets. More recently, upscale boutiques and designer shops have begun to line the street. Every Sunday, Orchard Street from Delancey to East Houston Street closes to vehicular traffic turning the street into a pedestrian mall with stores setting up tables and racks advertising their wares to passersby.
Like the rest of the Lower East Side, Orchard Street has gone through gentrification in the past decade, especially above Rivington Street, where boutiques and upscale restaurants have opened shop.
The transition has been slower on the lower end of the street, especially below Grand Street, which is part of Chinatown’s industrial east end, but new restaurants, bars and art galleries have opened in this area in recent years as well.
Meanwhile, several luxury condominiums now stand or are under construction where immigrant families once shared quarters in cramped tenement buildings. Several boutique hotels have also sprouted in the area, with two on Orchard St; the Blue Moon Hotel at 100 Orchard St, and a Jason Pomeranc hotel under construction on Allen St.
22 October 1979, New York magazine, “New York on 5 Rubles a Day” by William Hugh Hopkins, pg. 10, col. 3:
You can bet your bottom ruble that few Iowans have heard of Yashkin Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. What amazes me, though, is its renown among almost everyone from Tbilisi to Tashkent. In fact, an excursion to Yashkin Street—or Orchard Street, as New Yorkers call it—is a must for visiting Soviets, who can be found there any day of the week, shopping and absorbing the local color.
Yashkin Street means Jake’s Street. Yashka is a slightly deprecatory moniker for Yakob (Jacob), a common name among the shopkeepers, half of whose inventory is usually hung out or piled on the sidewalk.
The polyglot entrepreneurs of Yashkin Street are traditionally Eastern European Jews and now some more recent emigres.
The New Sweet Style: a novel
By Vasiliĭ Aksenov
New York, NY: Random House
Our twins were living near this temple of chops, on Orchard Street, almost a slum — which later, in the twentieth century, would be called Yashkin Street by the new waves of immigrants, so that the name change became quasi official.