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The Bowery
Looking north from Houston Street
Former name(s)Bowery Lane (prior to 1807)
Length1.6 km (0.99 mi)
South endChatham Square
North endEast 4th Street (continues as Cooper Square)
Looking north from Grand Street, showing the tracks of the Third Avenue Elevated, c. 1910

The Bowery (

Little Australia. To the south is Chinatown, to the east are the Lower East Side and the East Village, and to the west are Little Italy and NoHo.[6][7] It has historically been considered a part of the Lower East Side of Manhattan.[8]

In the 17th century, the road branched off

director-general of New Netherland. The street was known as Bowery Lane prior to 1807.[9] "Bowery" is an anglicization of the Dutch bouwerie, derived from an antiquated Dutch word for "farm": In the 17th century the area contained many large farms.[3]


bus runs on the entire Bowery.


The Bowery (unmarked), leading to the "Road to Kings Bridge, where the Rebels mean to make a Stand" in a British map of 1776

Colonial and Federal periods

The Bowery is the oldest thoroughfare on

Battery Park

In 1654, the Bowery's first residents settled in the area of

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-Bowery.[14]

In her Journal of 1704–05, Sarah Kemble Knight describes the Bowery as a leisure destination for residents of New York City in December:

Their Diversions in the Winter is Riding Sleys about three or four Miles out of Town, where they have Houses of entertainment at a place called Bowery, and some go to friends Houses who handsomely treat them. [...] I believe we mett 50 or 60 slays that day – they fly with great swiftness and some are so furious that they'le turn out of the path for none except a Loaden Cart. Nor do they spare for any diversion the place affords, and sociable to a degree, they'r Tables being as free to their Naybours as to themselves.[15]

By 1766, when

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
, clearly delineated on the map.

The Bull's Head Tavern in the Bowery, 1801 – c. 1860

The Bull's Head Tavern was noted for George Washington's 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 main route to Boston, the Bowery rivaled 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".[17]

Early growth

As the population of New York City continued to grow, its northern boundary continued to shift northward, and by the early 1800s the Bowery was no longer a farming area outside the city. The street gained in respectability and elegance, becoming a broad

philanthropist.[3] The Bowery began to rival Fifth Avenue as an address.[3]


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 Andrew Morris and John Jacob Astor; it opened in 1826 and was the largest auditorium in North America at the time.[3] 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 Bowery Theatre's offerings matched the slide in the social scale of the Bowery itself.

Economic decline

Berenice Abbott photograph of a Bowery restaurant in 1935, when the street was lined with flophouses
The Bowery Lodge is one of the last remaining flophouses on the Bowery

By the time of the

Bowery Mission, founded in 1880 at 36 Bowery by Reverend Albert Gleason Ruliffson
. The mission has remained along the Bowery throughout its lifetime. In 1909 the mission moved to its current location at 227–229 Bowery.

By the 1890s, the Bowery was a center for

Bleecker Street, New York's "worst dive",[20] to Columbia Hall at 5th Street, called Paresis Hall. One investigator in 1899 found six saloons and dance halls, the resorts of "degenerates" and "fairies", on the Bowery alone.[21] Gay subculture was more highly visible there and more integrated into working-class male culture than it was to become in the following generations, according to historian George Chauncey

From 1878 to 1955 the

Rivington Street, named for the battered milestone across the way,[24] where the politicians of the East Side had made informal arrangements for the city's governance,[25][26] was renovated for retail space in 1921, "obliterating all vestiges of its former appearance", The New York Times reported. Restaurant supply stores were among the businesses that had come to the Bowery,[27]
and many remain to this day.

Pressure for a new name after World War I came to naught

homeless persons).[28] Among those who wrote about Bowery personalities was New Yorker staff member Joseph Mitchell (1908–1996). Aside from cheap clothing stores that catered to the derelict and down-and-out population of men, commercial activity along the Bowery became specialized in used restaurant supplies and lighting fixtures.[3] In the 1930s and again in 1947, there were efforts to change the name of the Bowery to something more "dignified and prosaic", such as "Fourth Avenue South".[29]

Revival and gentrification

Avalon Bowery Place, one of several new luxury developments on the Bowery
85, 83, 81 Bowery (from left to right) in 2010

The vagrant population of the Bowery declined after the 1970s, in part because of the city's effort to disperse it.

apartment complex on the Bowery; the structure includes a Whole Foods Market. Avalon Bowery Place was quickly followed with the development of Avalon Bowery Place II.[30]

The new development has not come without social costs. Michael Dominic's 2001 documentary Sunshine Hotel followed the lives of residents of one of the few remaining flophouses. Construction on the Wyndham Garden Hotel at 93 Bowery in the late Aughts destabilized neighboring building 128 Hester Street (owned by the same man, William Su), and 60 tenants were thrown out of the building with the help of the Department of Buildings.[32] At least 75 tenants were displaced from 83 to 85 Bowery in January 2018 in frigid temperatures due to long-overdue repairs that needed to be made. Tenants accused the landlord of using this displacement to start renovating the buildings into a hotel,[33] and they went on a hunger strike.[34]

The Bowery from Houston to Delancey Street still serves as New York's principal market for restaurant equipment and from Delancey to Grand for lamps.


Upper and Lower Bowery

The upper Bowery refers to the portion of the Bowery above Houston Street; the lower Bowery refers to the portion below it.[35]

Bowery Historic District

Bowery Historic District contributing property – Westchester House
NRHP Westchester House Plaque
Exterior of the building
One of the most architecturally diverse and historically significant streetscapes in the city; first residence for many immigrant groups. Currently Sohotel[36]: 106 

In October 2011, a Bowery Historic District was registered with the

Village Award from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation in 2013.[38] The historic district runs from Chatham Square to Astor Place on both sides of the Bowery.[36]

Little Saigon

New York's "Little Saigon", though not officially designated, exists on the Bowery between Grand Street and Hester Street.[39] New York magazine claims that while this street blends in with neighboring Chinatown, the area is filled with Vietnamese restaurants.[40]

Notable places

Crowds along the "Bowery at night," c. 1895 painting by William Louis Sonntag, Jr.

Amato Opera

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

Bank buildings


130 Bowery is an official New York City designated landmark,[42] as is the 1920s domed Citizens Savings Bank.[43]

Bowery Ballroom

The Bowery Ballroom 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.[44] In 1997 it was converted into a music venue. It has a capacity of 550 people.[45]

Directly in front of the venue's entrance is the

Z trains) 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 Mural

Bowery Mural
Barry McGee mural (2010)

The Bowery Mural is an outdoor exhibition space located on the corner of

Deitch Projects in 2008. Goldman's goal was to use this wall to present the top contemporary artists from around the world, with an emphasis on artists who work on the streets. Seasonal murals have appeared on the wall curated and organized in collaboration with The Hole, NYC, an art gallery in SoHo
run by former Deitch Projects directors Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman.

The mural series was initiated from March to December 2008 with a tribute to

Irak, which ran from November 24–26, 2010.[46] Other artists to have murals presented include the twins How & Nosm (2012), Crash (2013), Martha Cooper (2013), Revok and Pose (2013), Swoon (2014), and Maya Hayuk.[47][48]

Bowery Poetry

Bowery Poetry Club (2006)

Bowery Poetry is a performance space at Bowery and Bleecker Street. It was founded in 2001 as Bowery Poetry Club (BPC), and provided 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 featured regular shows by Amiri Baraka, Anne Waldman, Taylor Mead, Taylor Mali, along with open mic, gay poets, a weekly poetry slam, and an Emily Dickinson Marathon, amongst other events. The club closed in 2012 and reopened in 2013 as a shared performance space under the name "Bowery Poetry". Bowery Arts + Science presents poetry, and Duane Park presents alternative burlesque in this space.[49]

Bowery Theatre

The Bowery Theatre was a 19th-century playhouse at 46 Bowery. It was founded in the 1820s by rich families to compete with the upscale

. It burned down four times in 17 years, and a fire in 1929 destroyed it for good.


The former CBGBs

CBGB, a club that was opened to play

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. The space is now a John Varvatos boutique

Miner's Bowery Theatre

Miner's Bowery Theatre was a

Henry Clay Miner in 1878.[50] The theater was known for its method of encouraging anyone to get on stage and perform on amateur nights, and for its method of removing bad performers from the stage by yanking them off with a wooden hook.[51]
Starting in the 1890s, a stage-prop shepherd's hook was used to pull bad performers bodily from the stage, after audience members shouted, "Give 'im the hook."[51] The phrase, "Give him the hook" originated at Miners Bowery Theatre.[51]

New Museum

In December 2007, the New Museum opened the doors of its new location at 235 Bowery, at Prince Street, continuing its focus of exhibiting international and

Conde Nast Traveler.[52] The museum has an ongoing Bowery Project honoring artists who lived on the Bowery with taped interviews and archived records.[53]

Notable people

In popular culture

Steve Brodie's bar at 114 Bowery
Sheet Music to The Bowery, 1892




  • The phrase "On the Bowery", which has since fallen into disuse, was a generic way to say one was down-and-out. It originated in the song "The Bowery" from the 1891 musical A Trip to Chinatown,[62] which included the chorus "The Bow'ry, The Bow'ry!/They say such things,/and they do strange things/on the Bow'ry".[63][unreliable source?]
  • On the Bowery, an 1894 play starring Steve Brodie, supposed Brooklyn Bridge jumper and Bowery saloonkeeper.
  • In Disney's Newsies, the showgirls featured in the song "I Never Planned on You/Don't Come a-Knocking" are called the Bowery Beauties.

Film and television


  • The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems, a collection of photographs and poems by Martha Rosler.[67]


  • In the 1960s, radio and television commercials for the Bowery Savings Bank featured a jingle with the lyrics "The Bowery, The Bowery / The Bowery pays a lot / The Bowery pays you 6% / Commercial banks in New York simply do not." The number changed according to the amount of interest available on a passbook savings account offered by the bank.


  • Professional wrestler Raven is kayfabe billed as being from the Bowery. The professional wrestler Scott Levy however was born in Philadelphia and lives in Atlanta.[68]

See also



  1. ^ "Bowery". Unabridged (Online). n.d.
  2. ^ "Bowery" (US) and "Bowery". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on July 27, 2020.
  3. ^ ., p. 148
  4. ^ 2006; Fodor's 1991
  5. ^ Google (August 14, 2018). "Bowery" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Chapter 2: Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy" (PDF).
  7. ^ Manhattan: City Council, Assembly, and State Senate (map)
  8. . Historically, the Lower East Side and East Village neighborhoods and the Bowery area combined to form the 'Lower East Side' of Manhattan: between Fourteenth Street and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges and between Broadway and the East River. ... Technically, Bowery ends at Fourth Street, where Cooper Square begins. Originally, Bowery ran to Union Square at Fourteenth Street, and served as the westernmost border for the historical Lower East Side. However, in 1849 wealthy residents of the Union Square area changed the name of their section of Bowery from St. Mark's Place to Fourteenth St. to Fourth Avenue, with Cooper Square (Fourth Street to St. Mark's Place) serving as a buffer zone, in an effort to dissociate it from the lowlier working-class and immigrant reputation of the Bowery (Anbinder 2001).
  9. ^ Brown, 1922
  10. ^ "Second Avenue Subway: Completed Portions, 1970s". Archived from the original on August 23, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  11. ^ "Manhattan East Side Transit Alternatives (MESA)/Second Avenue Subway Summary Report" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  12. ^ Sanderson, Eric W. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New york City, 2009, p. 107, illus. "Lenape sites and trails", and Ch. 4 "The Lenape", passim.
  13. ^ In modern Dutch, boerderij
  14. ^ Fodor's 2004
  15. ^ Knight, Sarah Kemble; Buckingham, Thomas (1825). The Journals of Madam Knight and Rev. Mr. Buckingham. Wilder & Campbell. p. 55. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  16. ^ The relevant section is illustrated in Sanderson 2009, p. 41, bottom.
  17. ^ Smith, Matthew Hale. Sunshine and Shadow in New York, 1869, p. 214.
  18. ISBN 978-0-8232-1275-0.; A highly colored and disapproving panorama
    of the dissolute and lively Bowery on a Sunday is offered by Smith 1869, pp. 214–18.
  19. ^ Levinson, David ed. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Homelessness, s.v. "Bowery, The".
  20. ^ Chauncey 1994:33.
  21. ^ Frank, Mary and Carr, John Foster, "Exploring a neighborhood", The Century Magazine 98 (July 1919:378).
  22. ^ Frank and Carr 1919:378; the old tavern had been the scene of at least one violent murder, in 1862 ("The Murder in the Bowery", New York Times, 4 November 1862 accessed March 14, 2010.
  23. ^ The stone marked a mile from City Hall; it was still in evidence in 1909. Frank Bergen Kelly, Historical Guide to the City of New York (City History Club of New York), 1909:97.
  24. ^ "Bowery Landmark in $170,000 Lease". The New York Times. April 1, 1921. p. 32. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  25. ^ One Mile House by Glenn O. Coleman, 1928 (Whitney Museum of American Art) epitomizes the scene. A ghostly painted sign on the side of the building still advertises One Mile House.
  26. ^ a b "Business Changes Along Bowery". The New York Times. December 11, 1921. p. 125. Retrieved July 11, 2010. Today, the gentrified designation "Cooper Square" extends down the Bowery as far as 4th Street.
  27. ^ Giamo, Benedict, On the Bowery: confronting homelessness in American Society (University of Iowa Press) 1989.
  28. ISSN 0362-4331
    . Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  29. ^ a b Santora, Marc (March 18, 2011). "No Longer for Down and Outs, the Bowery is Up and Coming". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  30. ^ Vogel, Carol (July 27, 2007). "New Museum of Contemporary Art – Art". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  31. ^ Shapiro, Julie. "60 tenants thrown out as Chinatown tenement is shut". Vol. 22, no. 14. Downtown Express. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  32. ^ "Breaking: DOB Evacuates Embattled Betesh Tenants from 85 Bowery". Bowery Boogie. January 18, 2018. Archived from the original on June 26, 2022.
  33. ^ Cook, Lauren (February 10, 2018). "Displaced Bowery tenants continue hunger strike outside HPD". am New York. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  34. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form" (PDF).
  35. ^ a b "National Register Information System – The Bowerv Historic District (#13000027)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. November 2, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  36. ^ Clark, Roger (October 25, 2011). "Bowery Lands Spot On State Historic Registry". Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  37. ^ "Bowery Alliance of Neighbors: 2013 Village Award Winner". Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  38. ^ "Tiny Little Saigon in New York". November 5, 2009.
  39. ^ "The Thousand Best". New York Magazine.
  40. ^ "New Bank Building; Citizens Savings Bank to Erect Monumental Structure on Bowery". The New York Times. July 2, 1922. p. 84. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
  41. ^ "Bowery Savings Bank" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. April 19, 1996. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  42. ^ "Citizens Savings Bank" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. August 9, 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  43. ^ "History of the Bowery Ballroom", Bowery Ballroom website (archived 2007)
  44. ^ Carlson, Jen (August 14, 2007). "New Venue Alert: Terminal 5". Gothamist. Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2010.
  45. ^ "Houston Bowery Wall" Archived December 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine on the Goldman Properties website
  46. ^ "Bombed Again at the Houston/Bowery Mural Wall" on the EV Grieve website
  47. ^ "Bowery Houston Mural" on the Arrested Motion website
  48. ^ "Bowery Poetry". Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  49. ^ "Miner's Bowery was a landmark". The New York Times. New York City. August 11, 1929. p. 147.
  50. ^ a b c "Giving them the hook". The New York Times. New York City. February 9, 1997. p. 597.
  51. ^ "Structures Considered Most Amazing in World". The News Leader. Associated Press. March 30, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2008. [dead link]
  52. ^ "New Museum – Digital Archive". Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  53. ^ "Commentary". The New York Times. August 13, 1904. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  54. ^ "Kildare, Writer, Dead of Paresis: "The Kipling of the Bowery" Passes Away at the State Hospital on Ward's Island". The New York Times. February 7, 1911. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  55. ^ Lynn Yaeger. "All Sold Out at CBGB". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on November 2, 2013.
  56. ISSN 0028-7369
    . Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  57. ^ "He Had the Beat – and Now Has a Street". The Washington Post. December 7, 2003. Retrieved August 2, 2007. Now there is Joey Ramone Place.... The sign bearing Ramone's name recently went up on the corner of 2nd Street and Bowery, near CBGB, the group's musical home.
  58. ^ Gamboa, Glen (August 10, 2005). "The Fold: Battle over punk birthplace: Rock & rent". Newsday. Retrieved August 2, 2007. Reminders of the bands who have passed through CBGB remain all around the club, from the corner of Bowery and 2nd Street – now renamed Joey Ramone Place – to the countless band names scrawled on the bathroom walls.
  59. ^ Rachel, Cole T. "Jimmy Wright’S Downtown", NAD Now, September 23, 2020. Accessed April 25, 2022. "Jimmy Wright (NA 2018) is an artist currently based in New York City’s Bowery district."
  60. ^ Fantastic Four #4 (1962).
  61. ^ On the Bowery Archived January 18, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, Steve Zeitlin and Marci Reaven, New York Folklore Society's journal Voices, Vol. 29, Fall–Winter, 2003.
  62. ^ Information about the musical (Archived 2009-10-23)
  63. ^
    . "In The Bowery, a 1933 film, George Raft portrayed Brodie as Wallace Beery's rival for Fay Wray's affections. In the film, Brodie plans to fake his jump, but Beery's character forces him to do it for real. Brodie survives and wins Fay Wray's hand. An alternate account is supplied by the 1949 cartoon Bowery Bugs, wherein Brodie is driven to his jump by Bugs Bunny."
  64. ^ Kehr, Dave, "Out of the Bowery’s Shadows (Then Back In)", The New York Times, February 24, 2012. Accessed September 3, 2021. "Lionel Rogosin's 1957 documentary On the Bowery is a fascinating transitional work, a film that looks forward to the dispassionate, observational style that would come to be known as cinéma vérité (and which continues, in the work of Frederick Wiseman and others, to dominate contemporary documentary making).... A study of life on the Bowery at a time before art galleries and high-end restaurants — when the wine of choice was muscatel rather than Montrachet, and the Third Avenue El cast its shadow over a transient population of alcoholics, drug addicts and mental patients — Rogosin’s film strains to capture an unfiltered reality, to offer direct access to a world that had largely gone unrecorded."
  65. ^ Scott, Ryan (June 10, 2021). "Laurence Fishburne Returns as the Bowery King in John Wick 4". MovieWeb. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  66. ^ "The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems". The New Museum. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  67. ^ "Raven". WWE. Retrieved February 14, 2015.


Further reading

External links

Historic district