Friday, April 29, 2011

NYC Vintage Image Of The Day: The Bowery, 1930s

Stitched panorama of Bowery between Prince and Spring Streets, June 2009, Jeremy Rowe, vintagephoto.com

The Bowery in the southern portion of Manhattan, is among New York City's most infamous neighborhoods. By the Civil War era, it had slid from lush gardens and posh theaters into a center of prostitution, crime and gangs. In 1919, one local magazine characterized the nabe as "filled with employment agencies, cheap clothing and knickknack stores, cheap moving-picture shows, cheap lodging-houses, cheap eating-houses and cheap saloons."

As late as the 1970s, the Bowery was regarded as New York's Skid Row, despite a fringe artistic community that brought CBGB's, Bowery Ballroom and the Bowery Poetry Club.

In 2005—for better or worse—Whole Foods Market, the New Museum and a number of high-rise luxury condos along "Gentrification Row" have replaced the low-rise structures that had long been a destination for restaurant equipment and lighting supplies. Today, its identity crisis is fully evident, as white urban professionals continue to push out some of New York's most colorful characters—and buildings. 1935 pic of a restaurant in the Bowery, when the street was lined with flophouses. Note that most meals cost all of 10 cents, though a bowl of oxtail stew will run you 15 cents.
A Bowery flophouse, 1937.

Tattoo parlor pics, 1937. Notice that behind the tattoo parlor above is a hotel "for men only." Hmm, methinks that is a might curious.
Guns for sale! Today, it is illegal to pack a pistol in New York state.