As Manhattan continues its transformation into a high-end, city-themed shopping mall, we take our joy where we can find — and afford — it. An awful lot of our favorite things are crammed into the square mile between Astor Place and Canal Street: Chinatown, for one, which stubbornly resists gentrification and which remains the best place in the city for a cheap, delicious meal. The same square mile also hosts the Angelika Film Center, our pick for Best Multiplex; Pearl River Mart, where we recommend you decorate your apartment from top to toe; plus a host of other essential spots, both high-culture and low-, pricey and dirt-cheap: McNally Jackson Books, the IFC Center, Great Jones Spa, the sleek, expensive pubs and boutiques of Elizabeth Street, and the glorious shouting chaos and counterfeit handbag vendors of Canal. (Also in the immediate vicinity: Xi’an Famous Foods, classic greasy-spoon diner Cup & Saucer, and the breathtaking Eldridge Street Synagogue.) It’s a spot in the city that feels both cozy and glamorous, a place where we can tell ourselves that maybe New York is changing at a pace we can handle.