Saturday, June 6, 2009

Meeting for a plan to preserve the Bowery

Click on the image below to read the Bowery Alliance of Neighbor's plan to preserve the east side of the Bowery from Ninth Street to Canal. There's a meeting to discuss the plan on June 16.


Alex in NYC said...'s a little late, no?

East Village History Project said...

Def a little late... but if it brings attention to the Bowery's historic significance, it wont be in vain.

Few are aware of how important the Bowery has been to NYC over the last few hundred years.

Originally a vital Native American footpath, throughout the 17th and 18th centuries it became the main road which connected the heart of the city to the south with the wealthy estates and farms of the Van Wyck, Rutgers, Bayard and Stuyvesant families (to name a few).

The Bowery then began its important role in social and political life when the German and Irish immigrants arrived early in the 19th century. The Bowery was "Times Square" before Times Square was "Time Square"; it was the theater district before Broadway was "Broadway." By the late 19th century The Bowery was THE source of entertainment for a growing working-class New York. Nothing but blocks and blocks of "low concert" saloons, gambling parlors, brothels, theaters, dance and meeting halls, cheap hotels -- thousands of immigrants a day would cross the Bowery to work in the booming factory district (now called "SoHo"), and of course take advantage of its vices on the way home.

It was the birth place of such American performance traditions as "black face" Minstrelsy and burlesque; it incubated Yiddish theatre and vaudeville in America; it hosted the political halls and drinking holes of Tammany Hall; it bred some of the most famous gangsters and politicos in American history and played a critical role in shaping labor unions. This culture lasted for many decades until the Great Depression -- when The Bowery hosted up to 75,000 despondent men and women a day -- birthing the thoroughfare's contemporary reputation as "skid row." After WWII, many artists, writers, activists and "free-spirits" moved in to take advantage of low-rents and large space, turning the area into a hub of arts in America.

And this is just a thimbleful of history and influence -- so, considering all of that, an effort to protect as much as we can is everyone's responsibility. It won't work. (hmmph!) But BAN's efforts are important in many ways. So I wish Anna, Mitchel, Jean, and everyone over at BAN all the luck and support in the world.