Place in History

The Bowery Hall of Fame

Years: 2001-2002
Project: A modular mini-museum set up on the Bowery.
Summary: The Bowery Hall of Fame is a museum in miniature, assembled from the remains of a Palace Hotel lodging house cubicle, pilfered cultural artifacts, local propaganda, and bits of historical documentation. Inside this tiny dwelling you will discover strange and wonderful facts about the Bowery, its inhabitants, its structures, its apocryphal history and its unknowable future. From the nineteenth century slumming expeditions of George Washington Chuck Connors, the Mayor of Chinatown, to the modern-day exploits of urban professionals, this museum offers the visitor an explicit view of the world's most famous down-and-out boulevard. Built at a moment of profound physical, social and economic change along the Bowery, the Hall of Fame represents a portal into twenty-first century New York, a place defined by its past yet persistently unfettered by it.

  Page 1: The Formation of Skid Row  

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THE FORMATION OF SKID ROW

Although the term “skid row” came from a 19th century logging strip in Seattle, to the American mind the Bowery has long been the paradigm of life on the margins. But what is a skid row? What was its social and economic function during the late 19th and early 20th century? Is it now just a curiosity of American history, or does the skid row still play a role in today’s urban economic life?

For the better part of the 20th century, the Bowery provided a haven for transient single workers, hobos, alcoholics, prostitutes and anyone seeking illicit thrills. Cheap lodging houses, bars, burlesque theaters and day labor offices riddled the street. Unlike today’s homeless, early 20th century Bowery denizens were, for the most part, migrant single male laborers with their own culture, work habits, and living accommodations.

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