Bowery facts for kids
Looking north from Houston Street
|Former name(s)||Bowery Lane (prior to 1807)|
|Length||1.6 km (1.0 mi)|
|South end||Chatham Square|
|North end||East 4th Street (continues as Cooper Square)|
The Bowery is a street and neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The street runs from Chatham Square at Park Row, Worth Street, and Mott Street in the south to Cooper Square at 4th Street in the north, while the neighborhood's boundaries are roughly East 4th Street and the East Village to the north; Canal Street and Chinatown to the south; Allen Street and the Lower East Side to the east; and Little Italy to the west.
In the 17th century, the road branched off Broadway north of Fort Amsterdam at the tip of Manhattan to the homestead of Peter Stuyvesant, Director-General of New Netherland. The street was known as Bowery Lane prior to 1807. "Bowery" is an anglicization of the Dutch bouwerij, derived from an antiquated Dutch word for "farm", as in the 17th century the area contained many large farms.
- redirect Template:NYCS Nassau south train), is located close to the Bowery's intersection with Delancey and Kenmare Streets. There is a tunnel under the Bowery once intended for use by proposed but never built New York City Subway services, including the Second Avenue Subway.
Colonial and Federal periods
The Bowery is the oldest thoroughfare on Manhattan Island, preceding European intervention as a Lenape footpath, which spanned roughly the entire length of the island, from north to south. When the Dutch settled Manhattan island, they named the path Bouwerij road—"bouwerij" being an old Dutch word for "farm"—because it connected farmlands and estates on the outskirts to the heart of the city in today's Wall Street/Battery Park area.
In 1654, the Bowery’s first residents settled in the area of Chatham Square; ten freed slaves and their wives set up cabins and a cattle farm there.
Petrus Stuyvesant, the last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam before the English took control, retired to his Bowery farm in 1667. After his death in 1672, he was buried in his private chapel. His mansion burned down in 1778 and his great-grandson sold the remaining chapel and graveyard, now the site of the Episcopal church of St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery.
In her Journal of 1704–05, Sarah Kemble Knight describes the Bowery as a leisure destination for residents of New York City in December:
Their Diversions in the Winter is Riding Sleys about three or four Miles out of Town, where they have Houses of entertainment at a place called Bowery, and some go to friends Houses who handsomely treat them. [...] I believe we mett 50 or 60 slays that day—they fly with great swiftness and some are so furious that they'le turn out of the path for none except a Loaden Cart. Nor do they spare for any diversion the place affords, and sociable to a degree, they'r Tables being as free to their Naybours as to themselves.
By 1766, when John Montresor made his detailed plan of New York, "Bowry Lane", which took a more north-tending track at the rope walk, was lined for the first few streets with buildings that formed a solid frontage, with market gardens behind them; when Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist for Mozart's Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and Così fan tutte, immigrated to New York City in 1806, he briefly ran one of the shops along the Bowery, a fruit and vegetable store. In 1766, straight lanes led away at right angles to gentlemen's seats, mostly well back from the dusty "Road to Albany and Boston", as it was labeled on Montresor's map; Nicholas Bayard's was planted as an avenue of trees. James Delancey's grand house, flanked by matching outbuildings, stood behind a forecourt facing Bowery Lane; behind it was his parterre garden, ending in an exedra, clearly delineated on the map.
The Bull's Head Tavern was noted for George Washington's having stopped there for refreshment before riding down to the waterfront to witness the departure of British troops in 1783. Leading to the Post Road, the main route to Boston, the Bowery rivaled Broadway as a thoroughfare; as late as 1869, when it had gained the "reputation of cheap trade, without being disreputable" it was still "the second principal street of the city".
Rise of the area
As the population of New York City continued to grow, its northern boundary continue to move, and by the early 1800s the Bowery was no longer a farming area outside the city. The street gained in respectability and elegance, becoming a broad boulevard, as well-heeled and famous people moved their residences there, including Peter Cooper, the industrialist and philanthropist. The Bowery began to rival Fifth Avenue as an address.
When Lafayette Street was opened parallel to the Bowery in the 1820s, the Bowery Theatre was founded by rich families on the site of the Red Bull Tavern, which had been purchased by John Jacob Astor; it opened in 1826 and was the largest auditorium in North America at the time. Across the way the Bowery Amphitheatre was erected in 1833, specializing in the more populist entertainments of equestrian shows and circuses. From stylish beginnings, the tone of Bowery Theatre's offerings matched the slide in the social scale of the Bowery itself.
The vagrant population of the Bowery declined after the 1970s, in part because of the city's effort to disperse it. Since the 1990s the entire Lower East Side has been reviving. As of July 2005, gentrification is contributing to ongoing change along the Bowery. In particular, the number of high-rise condominiums is growing. In 2006, AvalonBay Communities opened its first luxury apartment complex on the Bowery, which included an upscale Whole Foods Market. Avalon Bowery Place was quickly followed with the development of Avalon Bowery Place II in 2007. That same year, the SANAA-designed facility for the New Museum of Contemporary Art opened between Stanton and Prince Street.
The new development has not come without a social cost. Michael Dominic's documentary Sunshine Hotel followed the lives of residents of one of the few remaining flophouses.
The Bowery from Houston to Delancey Street serves as New York's principal market for restaurant equipment, and from Delancey to Grand for lamps.
Bowery Historic District
In October 2011, a Bowery Historic District was registered with the New York State Register of Historic Places and, because of that, automatically nominated for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. A grassroots community organization named Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN) in association with the community-based housing organization called the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council led the effort for creation of the historic district. The designation means that property owners will have financial incentives to restore rather than demolish old buildings on the Bowery. BAN was recognized for its preservation efforts with a Village Award from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation in 2013.
The historic district runs from Chatham Square to Astor Place on both sides of the Bowery.
New York's "Little Saigon", though not officially designated, exists on the Bowery between Grand Street and Hester Street. New York magazine claims that while this street blends in with neighboring Chinatown, the area is filled with Vietnamese restaurants.
This company, founded in 1948 by Tony Amato and his wife, Sally, found a permanent home at 319 Bowery next to the former CBGB and afforded many young singers the opportunity to hone their craft in full-length productions with a cut-down orchestration. The curtain fell on this well-established NYC opera forum on May 31, 2009, when Tony Amato retired.
The Bowery Savings Bank was chartered in May 1834, when the Bowery was an upscale residential street, and grew with the rising prosperity of the city. Its 1893 headquarters building remains a Bowery landmark, as does the 1920s domed Citizens Savings Bank.
The Bowery Ballroom is a music venue. The structure, at 6 Delancey Street, was built just before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. It stood vacant until the end of World War II, when it became a high-end retail store. The neighborhood subsequently went into decline again, and so did the caliber of businesses occupying the space. In 1997 it was converted into a music venue. It has a capacity of 550 people.
Directly in front of the venue's entrance is the Bowery Station (J and Z train) of the New York City Subway.
The club serves as the namesake of at least one recording: Joan Baez's Bowery Songs album, recorded live at a concert at the Bowery Ballroom in November 2004.
The Bowery Mural is an outdoor exhibition space located on the corner of Houston Street and the Bowery, on a wall owned by Goldman Properties since 1984. Real estate developer Tony Goldman began the project with Jeffery Deitch and Deitch Projects in 2008. Goldman’s goal was to use this wall to present the top contemporary artists from around the world, with an emphasis on artists who work on the streets. Seasonal murals have appeared on the wall curated and organized in collaboration with The Hole, NYC, an art gallery in SoHo run by former Deitch Projects directors Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman.
The mural series was initiated from March to December 2008 with a tribute to Keith Haring’s noted 1982 Bowery mural. This was followed by a mural by the Brazilian twin-brother duo Os Gêmeos, which they dedicated to artist Dash Snow; this was presented from July 2009 to March 2010. The next mural, by Shepard Fairey, was on exhibit from April through August 2010, and was followed by a mural by Barry McGee which celebrated the role of graffiti tagging in the history of New York City street art; it was on display from August to November 2010. This was followed by a tribute to Dash Snow by Irak, which ran from November 24–26, 2010. Other artists to have murals presented include the twins How & Nosm (2012), Crash (2013), Martha Cooper (2013), Revok and POSE (2013), Swoon (2014), and Maya Hayuk (whose mural was tag-bombed several times shortly after its completion in 2014).
Bowery Poetry is a performance space at Bowery and Bleecker Street. It was founded in 2001 as Bowery Poetry Club (BPC), and provided a home base for established and upcoming artists. It was founded by Bob Holman, owner of the building and former Nuyorican Poets Café Poetry Slam MC (1988–1996). The BPC featured regular shows by Amiri Baraka, Anne Waldman, Taylor Mead, Taylor Mali, along with open mic, gay poets, a weekly poetry slam, and an Emily Dickinson Marathon, amongst other events. The club closed in 2012 and reopened in 2013 as a shared performance space under the name "Bowery Poetry". Bowery Arts + Science presents poetry, and Duane Park presents alternative burlesque in this space.
The Bowery Theatre was a 19th-century playhouse at 46 Bowery. It was founded in the 1820s by rich families to compete with the upscale Park Theatre. By the 1850s, the theatre came to cater to immigrant groups such as the Irish, Germans, and Chinese. It burned down four times in 17 years, and a fire in 1929 destroyed it for good.
CBGB, a club that was opened to play country, bluegrass & blues (as the name CBGB stands for), began to book Television, Patti Smith, and the Ramones as house bands in the mid-1970s. This spawned a full-blown scene of new bands (Talking Heads, Blondie, edgy R&B-influenced Mink DeVille, rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon, and others) performing mostly original material in a mostly raw and often loud and fast attack. The label of punk rock was applied to the scene even if not all the bands that made their early reputations at the club were punk rockers, strictly speaking, but CBGB became known as the American cradle of punk rock. CBGB closed on October 31, 2006, after a long battle by club owner Hilly Kristal to extend its lease. The space is now a John Varvatos boutique.
In December 2007, the New Museum opened the doors of its new location at 235 Bowery, at Prince Street, continuing its focus of exhibiting emerging international artists. This new facility, designed by the Tokyo-based firm Sejima + Nishizawa/SANAA and the New York-based firm Gensler, has greatly expanded the Museum’s exhibitions and space. In March 2008, the museum's new building was named one of the architectural seven wonders by Conde Nast Traveler. The museum has an ongoing Bowery Project honoring artists who lived on the Bowery with taped interviews and archived records.
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