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The Bowery

The Bowery
The Bowery
is the area from East 4th St in the East Village to Canal St and Little Italy on the West. It is also the name of the oldest thoroughfare in the city which is still in use today. The area has seen many changes and its reputation though seedy at times has its roots in grandeur.


Early in its history during the 1700's it was a large open space used for recreation by the rich who opened taverns and the famed Bowery Theater but by the time the civil war rolled around the Bowery had slid into a decline it became a place for rough drinking, prostitution and cheap "flophouses". 


It was also the main center of the gay and lesbian community in the late 1800s and early 1900's with a large amount of dance halls saloons and even opium dens. Due to its proximity to the docks thousands of sailors would pour in creating an even higher demand for bars brothels and tattoo parlours. By the late 1920s and 30's things went from bad to worse, and the once beautiful gardens and taverns virtually unrecognisable after the area fell into the depression totally disappeared giving way to homeless communities and alcoholics who lived on the streets and in the many tenement buildings.


The Bowery became known as Skid Row and for many years remained in a state of total disrepair as immigration and joblessness increased and lack of resources to assist the many who came looking for shelter became critical. The only businesses to be found for many years mixed into the bars and homeless shelters were restaurant supply stores which still provide the area with a majority of its commerce even today, however the city has put a massive amount of time and money into the revival or gentrification of the area known as the Bowery.


There are now many high-rise apartments and condos being constructed as well as open air markets and organic food stores mixed in with the original taverns and bars which have been refurbished creating an eclectic neighborhood where old historic buildings such as The Amato Opera started in 1948 by Tony Amato and his wife, Sally, which though closed as a venue still stands today.


The Bowery Ballroom a music venue built just before the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Bowery Poetry Club a poetry prose and open mic performance space located at Bowery and Bleecker Street mix with new and exciting buildings like the New Museum of contemporary art which opened the doors to its new location on 235 Bowery in 2007 and the new Cooper Union building a futuristic construction which sits adjacent to the old Cooper Union building located on Cooper Square and Astor Place.


No history of the Bowery would be complete without mention of the famed and fantastic CBGB which was located at 315 Bowery! Originally intended to be a venue to showcase Country, BlueGrass and Blues(thats where the name came from) it became the greatest Punk and New Wave showcase in the USA. Sadly CBGB closed its doors in October 2006 and while we miss its presence every day its spirit lives on forever in the memories of all New Yorkers who shared in its magic.


The venue is now occupied by the designer John Varvatos who kept some of the graffiti on the interior for anyone wishing to see a bit of what the club used to look like and they are happy to allow photographs both inside and outside


Some places to check out in the area include:


For Eats
Balthazar 80 Spring St

Brick Lane Curry House 306 E.6th St

La Esquina 106 Kenmare St

Peels 325 Bowery



For Shopping 

Blue and Cream 1 East 1st at Bowery

Patricia Fields 302 Bowery

Whole Foods 95 East Houston at Bowery

Rogan 330 Bowery Corner on Bond



For Sightseeing 

 

The New Museum 235 Bowery - 

Sun, Wed, Fri-Sat 11am-6pm

Mon-Tue Closed

Thu 11am-9pm

Lower East Side History Project offering walking tours both public and private

347-465-7767
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Lower East Side Tenement Museum Sun-Sat 10am-6pm 108 Orchard St




 


 

 

 

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