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Bowery ( or ) is the name of a street and a small neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York Citymarker borough of Manhattanmarker. The neighborhood's boundaries are East 4th Street and the East Villagemarker to the north, Canal Street and Chinatownmarker to the South, Allen Street and the Lower East Sidemarker to the east and Bowery (the street) and Little Italy to the west..

Bowery is an anglicisation of the Dutch bowerij. In the 17th century the road ran from Fort Amsterdammarker at the tip of Manhattan to the homestead of Peter Stuyvesant, Director-General of New Netherland.As a street, the Bowery was known as Bowery Lane prior to 1807 Today it runs from Chatham Squaremarker in the south to Cooper Squaremarker in the north. Its further extension, angling across the grid plan of Manhattan to Union Squaremarker, has long been renamed 4th Avenue. Major streets that intersect the Bowery include Canal Street, Delancey Street, Houston Street, and Bleecker Streetmarker. A New York City Subway station named Bowerymarker on the BMT Nassau Street Line (J, M, and Z services) is located at the Bowery's intersection with Delancey Street.

The Bowery, looking north, around 1910


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, the old Dutch word for farm— because it connected the 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.

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-Bowerymarker.

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 Cosi Fan Tutte, emigrated 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.
The Bull's Head Tavern was noted for George Washington 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 Bowery rivalled 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".

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. 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 the Bowery Theatre's offerings matched the slide in the social scale of the Bowery itself. By the time of the Civil War, the mansions and shops had given way to low-brow concert halls, brothels, German beer gardens, pawn shops, and flophouses, like the one at #15 in which the composer Stephen Foster lived in 1864 Theodore Dreiser closed his tragedy Sister Carrie, set in the 1890s, with the suicide of one of the main characters in a Bowery flophouse. The Bowery, which marked the eastern border of the slum of "Five Pointsmarker", had also become the turf of one of America's earliest street gangs, the nativist Bowery Boys. In the spirit of social reform, the first YMCA opened on the Bowery in 1873; another notable religious and social welfare institution established during this period was The Bowery Mission and Young Men's Home, which was founded in 1880 at 36 Bowery by Rev. Albert Gleason Ruliffson. The mission has relocated along the Bowery throughout its lifetime. From 1909 to the present, the mission has remained at 227-229 Bowery.

From 1919 to the early 1960s the Third Avenue El ran above the Bowery, further darkening its streets, populated largely by men.

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 "The Bowery Boys") of film were from the Bowery. In the 1940s through the 1970s, the Bowery was New York Citymarker'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 SANAA-designed facility for the New Museum of Contemporary Artmarker opened at the corner of Prince Street.

Avalon Bowery Place, one of several new luxury developments on the Bowery.

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 Streets serves as New York's principal market for restaurant equipment, and from Delancey to Grand for lamps.

Notable establishments

East Village Visitors Center/Bowery Cultural Center

At 308 Bowery, inside the Bowery Poetry Club. Dedicated to researching, documenting and preserving the history of the Bowery, the center offers bowery exhibits, films, events, tours and more.

Bank buildings

The Bowery Savings Bankmarker 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 .

Amato Opera

This company, which was founded in 1948 by Tony Amato and his wife, Sally, found a permanent home at 319 Bowery next to the former CBGB, and it 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 opera forum in NYC on May 31, 2009, when Tony Amato retired.


CBGBmarker, 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 Ballroom

The Bowery Ballroommarker 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.

Right in front of the venue's entrance is the Bowery Station on the J line 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.

Bowery Poetry Club

Bowery Poetry Club
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 Café 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.

Famous residents

Among other famous residents, Quentin Crisp lived on Second Avenue, near the Bowery, for the last two decades of his life. Béla Bartók 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 Jerseymarker and resides in Georgiamarker.

Punk singer Joey Ramone resided around here, and in 2003 a part of Second Street at the intersection Bowery and Bleecker Streetmarker was renamed Joey Ramone Place.

In popular culture


  • 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.

Film and TV


  • 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 opening line of the Regina Spektor song "Ne me quitte pas" from her album Songs.
  • The Libertines recorded some acoustic sessions at the Chelsea Hotel, with one of the tracks being called "That Bowery Song".
  • 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."
  • English pop band Saint Etienne makes a reference to The Bowery in their song "Erica America" on their 1998 album Good Humor: "Hang around by the stadium/Drinking wine like a Bowery bum."
  • The Vancouver Twee pop band cub mentions The Bowery in their song "New York City", popularly covered by They Might Be Giants.
  • Mentioned in the Sonic Youth song "Trilogy" from the album Daydream Nation: "From Bowery to Broome to Greene, I'm a walking lizard...."
  • Mentioned in the Two Gallants song "Steady Rollin'": "Out waltzin' with the Holy Ghost from the Bowery to the Barbary Coast."
  • Mentioned in the Steve Earle song "Down Here Below": "Now Hell's Kitchenmarker's Clinton and the Bowery's Nolitamarker"--referring to the gentrification of the area in recent years.
  • Mentioned in the Beastie Boys song "Johnny Ryall": "Washing windows on the Bowery at a quarter to four; cause he ain't gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more..."
  • Mentioned in Paul McDermott's song "Stripped" on the abc series "The Sideshow": "She said I'm stained like a girl from the bowery"
  • Mentioned in Billy Joel's song "Why Should I Worry", featured in the film "Oliver & Company"
  • Mentioned in Tom Waits's song "Better Off Without A Wife", "here's to the bachelors/and the bowery bums/and those who feel that/ they're the ones/who are better off without a wife."
  • Mentioned in The Clash song "Lightning Stikes " from their album Sandinista!: "That looks good, this ain't got seeds/Cheaper than booze down in the Bowery".
  • Mentioned in the Ramones song "Bad Brain" from the album Road To Ruin: "Now I'm on the Bowery/ I can't remember my name."
  • Brooklynmarker band Bowery Electric obviously derive their name from the Bowery.
  • Mention in the Ron Pope song Seven English Girls.


  • Professional Wrestler Scott Levy, who wrestles under the name Raven, is announced as being from The Bowery during his ring entrance.
  • The Bowery is a type of jean cut produced by RUEHL
  • The Bowery is a noted source of inspiration for the New York-based clothing label Barking Irons

See also



External links

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