Two Bridges in partnership with Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN) co-sponsored the nomination of the Bowery to the National Register of Historic Places. The Bowery, stretching 1.25 miles from Chatham Square on the south to Cooper Square on the north, is an iconic Manhattan street. It is one of the few streets in the world the name of which evokes meaning beyond just a location on the map. From its earliest history as a Native American trail, to its function as a colonial-period drover’s road and Post Road to Boston, to its role in fostering American entertainment and artistic genres as diverse as minstrelsy, vaudeville, jazz, punk, abstract expressionism and Beat poetry, the Bowery has played a central role in the physical and cultural development of Manhattan.
The architectural legacy of the street includes some of Manhattan’s earliest surviving townhouses, nineteenth and twentieth-century commercial buildings, lodging houses, saloons, social services buildings, and banks. Among the most architecturally and historically diverse streets in the city, buildings along the Bowery date from nearly every decade between ca. 1780 and the present.
Perhaps most significantly, the Bowery is an indispensible resource of two centuries of American social, economic, political, immigrant, labor, underground, criminal, deviant, marginal, counter-culture, literary, musical, dramatic and artistic history, and it is within the remarkable architectural catalogue of buildings that this history was made. Since 2004, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors has been a vocal advocate for the preservation and appreciation of The Bowery as one of New York’s most invaluable and irreplaceable historic and cultural resources. During that time, the Bowery has seen an explosion of large-scale development that negatively impacts the Bowery in a number of ways, including:
- Loss of affordable housing and commercial space;
- Evictions of long-time businesses and residents, including many of the artists who contributed to the current appeal of the Bowery as a center for New York creative culture;
- Out of scale development, particularly high-rise hotels and condominium buildings;
- Demolition of historic buildings.
In keeping with Two Bridges’ mission of building bridges within the community it serves, this project can serve as a catalyst, informing planning decisions on the Bowery that affect the many neighborhoods through which it runs. We advocate strongly for a comprehensive approach to community planning, centered on history, culture, and economic development.
Click here to view the Press Release announcing The Bowery Historic District Listed in the National Register of Historic Places (PDF)