|Back in the mid 19th century, before the American Civil War, the Bowery was one of the main centers of commerce in New York City. Right off the Bowery is Merchant's House Museum, dating from 1838, it is one of the best preserved samples of American pre-civil war urban housing, complete with original furniture, clothing, and ephemera. After the Civil War New York City boomed but the Bowery area fell into decline. At the time the Bowery was filled with workshops including several planemakers. Josiah King was at 373 Bowery (around 5 street) just to name one.|
By World War Two the Bowery the street was synonymous with being down and out. Cheap hotels abounded and the street were known for winos and bums. In the 1960's and '70's the cheap housing attracted a lot of undesirable businesses including nightclubs like CBGB's, the punk haven at 4th street and the Bowery.
By the time I went to school on the Bowery the punks had taken over and the area got a reputation as being home to a lot of musicians. It was pretty common to see Joey Ramone eating pizza on 9th street, or Patti Smith or other rising stars of the genre hanging out with time on their hands.
Now the resurrection of the Bowery is complete. The winos and SROs are long gone. The streets are clean. CBGBs succumbed to high rents. The area is marked by modern mid-rise apartment construction with a distinctly European architecture slant. The store in the photo caught my eye. MISHA NICOLE is a trendy upscale clothing store and the windows were carefully dressed with fashionable clothing and (surprise, surprise) beat up power tools. My first reaction on seeing the chop saw in the windows was - If it was a Festool Kapex it would be under warranty and nobody would abandon it to a window display. My second thought was that using tools to sell women's clothing confirms that the whole tool thing gives a rugged industrial look that would help me with the ladies if I had that look.
Sorry for the poor picture, I could not do anything about the reflection on the glass. If you want to take a walk on the Bowery, Google Streetview can give you a small sanitized taste. We start the trip in front of where CBGB's was looking down the Bowery.
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