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City Living: The Bowery
Walking down famed Bowery street, from which the Bowery neighborhood takes its name, the sight of trendy restaurants and swanky nightlife spots mingling with sophisticated art galleries, the world-renowned New Museum and high-rise hotel and condo units makes it hard to believe the area has a less-than-pristine past. The Bowery went through a huge transformation, even in the past 10 years, evolving from gritty to polished at rapid speed.
The former skid row is now booming with new establishments and modern architecture that makes a mark on the city’s skyline.
Where flophouses and squats once thrived, eateries such as DBGB, owned by French chef Daniel Boulud, and The General, the casual trendy venture of “Top Chef” season three winner Hung Huynh, along with boutiques from the likes of designer Patricia Field, now take their place, attracting wealthy professionals to the area.
As the old, unwanted skin has shed, making way for a safer, cleaner neighborhood, the richer artistic and historical aspects that the Bowery is well-known for still linger.
Whether it’s the 18th and 19th century low-rise buildings that still stand, a poetry club that recalls a generation of Beat poets who wrote love letters to the Bowery or the few family-owned restaurant supply and lighting stores that refuse to leave, the area’s speedy gentrification did not discard everything.
“You feel like you’re in a part of history still,” said real estate agent Larry Carty of Corcoran. “When you step out, you have old-school places along with new institutions. People see the culture and the restaurants as amenities to their spaces.”
By LISA A. FRASER
Need To Know
The Bowery is a small, rectangular-shaped neighborhood that runs north to south from East Fourth Street/Cooper Square down to Canal Street. To its east is Allen Street below Houston Street and First Avenue above Houston. Its western boundary is Bowery street. More »
Trains: F train to Second Avenue; J train to Bowery; B, D to Grand Street; M15, M21, M103 More »
The closest public library is the NYPL Ottendorfer branch, at 135 Second Ave., between St. Mark's Place and East Ninth Street. More »
The NYPD’s Fifth Precinct at 19 Elizabeth St. covers the Bowery area, as does the Ninth, at 321 E. Fifth St., which monitors north of Houston Street. The murder rate for the Fifth Precinct decreased by 84% from 1990 to 2012. Robberies were high in the ’90s; there were 983 in 1990, compared with 121 in 2012, an almost 90% decrease. Burglaries have also seen an 84% drop, from 863 in 1990 to 137 in 2012. More »
This French-American restaurant serves up curried snails, tortellini, red snapper and wild boar alongside red, white and sparkling wines. The olive interior and wooden ceilings help create its intimate vibe — it’s a 20-seat space.
This cozy, freestyle Latino eatery aims to put a new twist on traditional dishes such as tapas and ceviche. The olive tree in the center — which extends to the second floor — adds an organic ambience to the already romantic, dimly lit dining room.
The Bowery Electric
This space, previously home to Remote Lounge, is known for its dance party, “The Electric Feel,” every weekend, along with hosting acclaimed artists such as Wayne Kramer, Foster the People and Billie Joe Armstrong.
Rockwood Music Hall
This venue has given the stage to local NYC bands since the ’90s. Every day, a few indie, bluegrass and Americana bands take to either one of the two stages to showcase their talent. Big names such as Mumford & Sons and Lady Gaga have also played here.
DQM New York
In business since 2003, DQM’s inventory is connected to founder Chris Keefe’s professional skateboarding roots. The store carries menswear, sneakers and skating goods from well-known brands such as Vans and Herschel, as well as its own DQM label
From funky iridescent Bermuda shorts fit for men or women to button-down shirts, T-shirts, jumpsuits and maxi dresses, International Playground offers one-of-a-kind styles for the fashion-forward buyer.
Known for dressing starlets on popular fashion-centric television shows such as “Sex and the City” and “Ugly Betty,” designer Patricia Field decided to bring her creations to the Bowery last year. The boutique stocks the latest of her designs from dresses and accessories for women to hats, tanks and tees for men. There’s something here for every edgy dresser.
It’s an independent bookstore, café and activist center, and it’s one of the few Bowery joints that hasn’t felt the brunt of a rapidly changing neighborhood. It carries books on gender and queer studies, social justice and feminism. Readings, workshops, performances and discussions are hosted most nights during the week.
This contemporary art museum is itself a work of art, as its stacked, seven-story building, designed by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, is considered an architectural contribution to the city’s landscape. General admission is $14, but entry is free 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays.