From Bowery Street to the Bowery District, there's no shortage of attempts to call the Bowery everything but the Bowery of late. In a blog post today, Michelle and James Nevius, authors of "Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City," discuss previous attempts to change or repurpose the Bowery name through the years:
By the late 19th century, the Bowery had become synonymous with skid row.
A lot of the Bowery’s reputation was deserved, but at least part of the blame for its near-universal name recognition was the musical A Trip to Chinatown, which featured the song “The Bowery.” Its chorus boasts:
The Bow'ry, the Bow'ry
They say such things and they do strange things,
On the Bow'ry! The Bow'ry!
I'll never go there any more.
By 1916, the street’s reputation had gotten so bad that civic groups battled to come up with a new name for the thoroughfare. One suggestion was “Cooper Avenue” in honor of Cooper Union founder (and Jell-O pioneer)* Peter Cooper.
A rival proposition recommended “Central Broadway.” It’s hard to imagine the chaos this name change might have brought about in a city that already featured Broadway, West Broadway, and East Broadway.