The Bowery is one of the great highways of humanity, a highway of seething life, of varied interest, of fun, of work, of sordid and terrible tragedy; and it is haunted by demons as evil as any that stalk through the pages of the “Inferno.”
From Cooper Street in the north to Chatham Square in the south, the Bowery refers to a New York City neighborhood as well as Manhattan’s oldest street. This district is surrounded by East Village, NoHo, and the Lower East Side. The Bowery, ever the paradox, has been called destitute, prosperous, ferocious, refined, high-class and browbeaten. Best stated by ny.curbed.com, the Bowery, “…has born witness to every facet of New York’s history.”
Presently, the Bowery boasts next-level lofts, swanky celebrity lounges, and cultural and artistic establishments for your enjoyment. But how did a district that former President Theodore Roosevelt compared with the likes of hell itself—a place once filled with cheap hotels, whiskey dives and infamous bums—transform into the chic Bowery neighborhood that we know and love today?
Once a major trading and gathering place for American Indians, the Bowery was colonized by the Dutch in the early 1620s. The Dutch West India Company searched to find prime areas for roads, a fort, and multiple farms—otherwise known as “Bouwerij.”
After Dutch settlement, the land eventually changed hands to the British until the American Revolutionary War; after which, a wave of development washed over the area and lead to the rapid construction of commercial buildings and residencies. One such constructed building of note was a hotel located at the corner of the Bowery’s Broome Street; known today as Sohotel, this building is said to be the oldest operating hotel in the State of New York.
The Bowery proved to be a cultural melting pot for German, Chinese and Italian tenants in Lower Manhattan. Theaters and opera houses populated its lower side, and the northern end of the district became home to Cooper Union, one of the nation’s first higher education establishments.
For more than 125 years, the Bowery was dubbed one of Manhattan’s most popular entertainment neighborhoods. Walt Whitman served as an avid supporter of the New York Theatre—currently known as Fay’s Bowery Theatre. The theatre boasted performances with the City’s most famous actors, the most notable of which being Edwin Booth, brother to Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth.
Once notorious for gang brawls, rallies, riots and more, the Bowery’s history is certainly a colorful one. For a deeper look into the history of your new neighborhood, check out ny.curbed.com’s “The ever-changing Bowery.”
Today, the Bowery is a historical and cultural place where the past and the present collide. Hip bars and dining establishments share the road with retail stores from the 1900s, and just being in the presence of the area seems enriching in itself. However, if you’ve just moved to the Bowery or are considering calling this NYC neighborhood “home,” you’re in for a real treat. Here are some of the best things to do and see in the Bowery neighborhood:
Bowery Poetry plays host to a diverse mix of entertainers whose poetry ranges from political to spiritual. Not only does the venue host poetry readings, it also offers workshops for those interested in homing in on the craft.
Would you consider yourself a lover of the arts? If so, we recommend heading to the Bowery’s New Museum.
Marcia Tucker founded this seven-story building in 1977 as a place for local artists to put their creations on display for public acknowledgment and approval. Still in operation today, New Museum has two main exhibitions, access to the Sky Room, and a café for light dining and drinks.
Similarly, art can be witnessed and appreciated on the corner of Houston and Bowery with the trendy Bowery Mural. Development company Goldman Properties commissioned artists to turn a blank wall on the other side of a handball court into a sight to behold with graffiti completed by famous artists such as RETNA, Os Gemeos and Kenny Scharf.
Looking to spruce up your new Bowery residence? Consider heading Olde Good Things.
Not only is Olde Good Things a famous vintage furniture store, it is one of the prime architectural antique merchants in the US. There are plenty of enchanting ornaments and old-fashioned goodies just waiting to be discovered!
Speaking of vintage, The Light District on the Bowery consists of a small strip of family-kept lighting retailers. Pop into Lighting New York or Lighting by Gregory and gain a true sense of what your new neighborhood was like back in the good old days!
In closing, the Bowery is an eclectic NYC neighborhood that truly has much to offer its inhabitants. Whether you’re looking to call this Manhattan neighborhood “home”, or simply want to learn more about where to live in New York City, Shleppers moving company in New York City has you covered!
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