(or /ˈbaʊri/) is the name of a street and a small neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City borough
. The neighborhood's boundaries are East 4th Street and the East Village
to the north, Canal Street
to the South, Allen Street
and the Lower East Side
to the east and Bowery (the street) and Little Italy
to the west..
As a street, the Bowery was known as Bowery Lane prior to 1807 and was the road leading to Peter Stuyvesant's farm or bouwerij. Today it runs from Chatham Square in the south to Cooper Square in the north. Major streets that intersect the Bowery include Canal Street, Delancey Street, Houston Street, and Bleecker Street. A New York City Subway station named Bowery on the BMT Nassau Street Line (J, M, and Z services) is located at the Bowery's intersection with Delancey Street.
Bouwerij was the old Dutch word for farm (today boerderij). Stuyvesant retired to his 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. The Bowerie was part of Eastern Post Road in the 18th century.
The Bull's Head Tavern is noted for George Washington having stopped there to refresh himself before riding down to the waterfront to witness the departure of British troops in 1783.
By the end of the 18th century the Bowery became New York's most elegant street, lined with fashionable shops and the mansions of prosperous residents.
Lorenzo Da Ponte, the Librettist for Mozart's Don Giovanni, Marriage of Figaro, and Cosi Fan Tutte, ran one of the shops - a fruit and vegetable store - after he emigrated to New York City in 1806.
But by the time of the Civil War, the mansions and shops had given way to brothels, beer gardens, and flophouses, like the one at #15 in which the composer Stephen Foster lived in 1864. It had also become the turf of one of America's earliest street gangs, the nativist Bowery Boys. One notable religious and social welfare institution during this period was The Bowery Mission or more formally The Bowery Mission and Young Men's Home, which began in 1880 at 36 Bowery when it was founded by Rev. Albert Gleason Ruliffson. The mission had relocated along the Bowery throughout its lifetime. From 1909 to the present, the mission has remained at 227-229 Bowery.
Post-Depression and Revival
Home of many music halls in the 19th century, the Bowery later became notable for its economic depression. In the 1920s and 1930s, it was regarded as an impoverished area. The "Dead End Kids" (aka the "Bowery Boys") of film were from the Bowery. In the 1940s through the 1970s, the Bowery was New York City's "Skid Row," notable for "Bowery Bums" (alcoholics and homeless persons).
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Bowery was viewed as a high-crime, low-rent area.
However, 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 New Museum of Contemporary Art opened a new facility at the corner of Prince Street.
The new development has not come without a social cost. Michael Dominic's documentary film Sunshine Hotel (2001) follows the lives of the denizens of one of the few remaining Bowery flophouses.
The Bowery from Houston to Delancey Streets serves as New York's principal market for restaurant equipment, and from Delancey to Grand for lamps.
The Bowery Savings Bank
was established 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 .
CBGB, a club initially 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.
Bowery Poetry Club
The Bowery Poetry Club is a New York City poetry performance space. Located at Bowery and Bleecker Street in Lower Manhattan, the BPC provides a home base for established and upcoming artists. It was founded by Bob Holman
, owner of the building and former Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Poetry Slam MC (1988-1996). The BPC features regular shows by Amiri Baraka
, Anne Waldman
, Jim Carroll
, along with open mic, gay
poets, a weekly poetry slam, and an Emily Dickinson
Marathon, amongst other events.
Among other famous residents, Quentin Crisp
lived on Second Avenue, near the Bowery, for the last two decades of his life. Bela Bartok
lived in 350 Bowery at the corner of Great Jones Street during the 1940s.
The writer William S. Burroughs kept an apartment at the former YMCA building at 222 Bowery, known as the Bunker, from 1974 until his death in 1997.
The artist Cy Twombly lived on the 3rd floor of 356 Bowery during the '60s.
The founder of the Hare Krishna Movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada lived in the Bowery when the movement began in America in 1966.
The professional wrestler Raven is also introduced as a resident of the Bowery, though in reality, he was born in New Jersey and resides in Georgia.
Punk singer Joey Ramone resided around here, and in 2003 a part of Second Street at the intersection Bowery and Bleecker Street was renamed Joey Ramone Place.
References in pop culture
- Mentioned in the opening line of the Regina Spektor song "Ne me quitte pas" from her album Songs.
- Mentioned in the Bob Dylan song "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream", from the album Bringing It All Back Home (1965) -- "I walked by a Guernsey cow/Who directed me down/To the Bowery slums/Where people carried signs around/Saying, "Ban the bums""
- Mentioned in the Jim Croce song Don't Mess Around With Jim (1972) -- "Uptown's got its hustlers/The Bowery's got its bums/42nd Street got big Jim Walker"
- Mentioned in the Dire Straits song Your Latest Trick (1985) -- "And we're standing outside of this wonderland/Looking so bereaved and so bereft/Like a Bowery bum when he finally understands/The bottle's empty and there's nothing left"
- Theodore Dreiser closed his tragedy Sister Carrie, set in the 1890s, with the suicide of one of the main characters in a Bowery flophouse.
- Professional Wrestler Scott Levy, who wrestles under the name Raven, is announced as being from The Bowery during his ring entrance.
- English pop band Saint Etienne makes a reference to The Bowery and perhaps even Jim Croce's "Don't Mess Around with Jim" in their song "Erica America" on their 1998 album Good Humor. The lyrics are "Hang around by the stadium/Drinking wine like a Bowery bum."
- William S. Burroughs alluded to the area in a story that complained of bums waiting to "waylay one in the Bowery."
- New York School poet Ted Berrigan mentions the Bowery several times in his seminal work, "The Sonnets."
- The Bowery is also the setting for Stephen Crane's first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (published in 1893), about a poor family living in the neighborhood, and of Siri Hustvedt's novel, What I Loved (2003), about the friendship and lives of an artist and an art historian.
- In the 1979 film, The Warriors, the all-female gang The Lizzies and The Punks hail from Bowery.
- In the 1954 film, There's No Business Like Show Business, the Bowery is mentioned in a Duet including Ethel Murman. The sailors are headed across the Brooklyn Bridge, and to the Bowery to get tattooed
- In the 1949 Looney Tunes short "Bowery Bugs", Bugs Bunny tells an old man an imaginative story about a gambler named Steve Brody who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge in 1886.
- Mentioned many times in the original TV-Series Kojak (1973).
- Mentioned in the Sonic Youth song Trilogy from the album Daydream Nation. "From Bowery to Broome to Greene, I'm a walking lizard..."
- The Vancouver Twee pop band cub mentions The Bowery in their song New York City, popularly covered by They Might Be Giants.
- Mush from Newsies goes to tell the newsies in The Bowery about the strike.