Saturday, July 27, 2013


Unique touch of art and architecture is changing the face of urban areas.

WELCOME to NEW YORKER Bowery is not to see the classic beauty of a city. Because the whole area is completely irregular. As if the beauty of the south-east side of Manhattan marred by skid row area that runs from Cooper Square to Square Chantham this. It's a contrast compared to the Greenwich village, East Village, SoHo, Lower East Side, and Chinatown exquisitely constructed.

This former skid row now blooms with cutting edge art and architecture.

New Yorkers don’t come to the Bowery to find classical beauty. Lined by a mishmash of buildings—representing nearly every major architectural style since the late 18th century, locals claim—the Bowery is a neighborhood-like street of uneven sidewalks and few trees. From Cooper Square to Chatham Square, it runs like a scar down southeast Manhattan, splitting the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, the East Village, SoHo, the Lower East Side, and Chinatown.

What the area lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in gritty energy, a fascinating history, and, most recently, a dizzying rate of change. Just half a decade ago, the Bowery was New York’s skid row, made up of flophouses and restaurant supply shops. But in the last couple of years, the druggies and delinquents, bums and boozers have moved on, and only one flophouse still operates. The Bowery has quickly become one of Manhattan’s most dynamic parts, with hip high-rise hotels flipping on the lights and noteworthy restaurants firing up their burners. In many ways, though, the new-look Bowery is simply reverting to its pre-skid row days.

For most of the 19th century, the Bowery served as the city’s entertainment center. New Yorkers came here to eat, drink, and see theater. But in 1878 a new elevated railway above the Bowery suddenly cast the area in daytime shadows, inspiring illicit behavior and, eventually, a migration elsewhere for most of the Bowery’s legitimate businesses (theaters, for example, fled to Broadway in Midtown).

In the last half of the 20th century, artists—Mark Rothko, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Maya Lin, Keith Haring—began moving into the area, taking advantage of the spacious living quarters and cheap rents. Bands that got their start at the legendary (and recently defunct) club CBGB—The Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith—all came to roost on the Bowery at one time or another.  

No surprise, then, that in 2007 the trailblazing New Museum, which showcases the work of underrepresented contemporary artists, opened its doors on the Bowery with a striking new building that resembles a stack of seven off-kilter boxes. “We wanted to help pioneer the rebirth of the Bowery,” says Lisa Phillips, the New Museum’s director.

And that they did. Well-turned-out crowds flock to new restaurants like Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud’s meat-and-beer mecca, DBGB; Pulino’s, owned by arbiter of New York dining cool Keith McNally; and southern-accented Peels.

The brash Cooper Square Hotel, which looks like an escapee from the Dubai skyline, now competes for guests with the posh Bowery Hotel. Three Pritzker Prize–winning architects have new buildings on the Bowery: Sir Norman Foster’s sleek Sperone Westwater art gallery, Thom Mayne’s seemingly armor-clad Cooper Union building, and Tokyo-based SANAA’s New Museum. And the Bowery’s last flophouse? An upscale hotel company recently bought the building. That means in a year or two, you can expect to see a new “it” place to lay your head. —David Farley

Around the Corner Ask any doughnut expert—and yes, they do exist—his or her opinion on the best doughnuts in the country, and you’ll likely get pointed to the Lower East Side. There, Mark Isreal runs the Doughnut Plant (379 Grand Street), which serves doughnuts made from all natural ingredients, including fruit from farmers markets and nuts roasted on-site. Signature flavors include crème brûlée and tres leches, but fans line up for the seasonal appearances of flavors like marzipan and rose petal. Isreal opens a second location at the Chelsea Hotel this spring. —D.F.

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