The Bowery, when I think of it and when I walk on it, rarely means that stretch between Delancey and Canal. In my travels, I tend to turn on Delancey or sooner, but recently I decided to walk this stretch. In the Lighting District, after 6:00 pm, the sidewalks are empty of crowds and you can really take it in. Which you should do soon, because it is being decimated.
See all my photos here.
The vanishing begins at Houston with the Avalons, then the New Museum, followed by a hole in the row of tenements, ready for boutique hotel 250 Bowery. Condos are rising quietly, stealthily, among and behind the kitchen supply stores. The kids at "mega-club" BLVD and Crash Mansion are waiting on the sidewalk, eager to access the opulence, the decadence, the feeling of exclusivity promised there.
Across the way, Jay Maisel's Germania Bank building, covered in graffiti, stands like a solemn reminder of the ruined past, windows sealed with silver foil, reflecting.
At Delancey, the seeds of destruction have already been planted in 2 of the 4 buildings bought for demolition--the familiar skull and crossbones means the rodenticide is in place--the first step is always: Kill the rats.
At Grand, the accidental jewel of a shopkeeper's scale gleams gold in sunset. Here you might find Shao P. Chen's minicake stand, profiled beautifully in The New Yorker--is it still there, in the shadow of the Providence Hotel?
At Hester, a corner has come down. The Music Palace theater has been replaced by a poster for the glass tower to come and a message, it seems, from the gods of destruction: "On your knees..."
The Diamond Corner holds on to its vintage signage. Everywhere, shop windows still glitter with chandeliers for sale, a hundred windows filled with lamps.
And just before Canal, the amazing Kowloon Bay beckons, a scene straight out of Hong Kong, a market filled with Chinese herbs, soaps, inflatable creatures, folding fans, etc.
Above Kowloon is the Bowery Lodge, where you can still stay for $30 a night.
I predict the next genius developer will open a swank boutique hotel on this street and call it "Flophouse." It will come complete with cubicles, with bunkbeds wrapped in high-threadcount Egyptian cotton linens. It will have shared "social" bathrooms for group trysting. Every cubicle will come with Armand de Brignac served in a Mad Dog 20/20 bottle. It will be opened for you by a concierge dressed as a bum.
And the Flophouse hotel will not cost 30 bucks a night.