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 12: Urban Renewal And Slum Clearance  

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URBAN RENEWAL AND SLUM CLEARANCE

The Bowery is home to one of Manhattan’s few remaining undeveloped Urban Renewal Areas. The six-block site was designated in 1970, but redevelopment plans are only now taking shape.

The federal Housing Act of 1949 appropriated a billion dollars for "Slum Clearance and Community Development and Redevelopment," money slated for urban renewal. The idea behind this law was to encourage private enterprise to rebuild cities, but today, many historians think that the project’s most significant outcome was the wholesale destruction of thriving minority and low-income communities.

The Cooper Square Urban Renewal Area (CSURA) stretches between the Bowery and Chrystie Street, from Stanton Street northward to East 5th Street. After 1970, It was condemned and designated for private redevelopment. Portions have since been developed, but much of the plan was blocked by a group of local residents, organized as the Cooper Square Committee. They saw that the plan would displace many locals, without helping them relocate, and that new buildings would be unaffordable to almost all neighborhood residents. The city adopted Cooper Square Committee’s alternate plan for development, but conflicts have stalled it for more than thirty years.

During the late 1990s, the city’s housing department began developing a new master plan for the land, one that worked toward a compromise. But since the city would not provide redevelopment subsidies, the plan mostly calls for tearing down old structures to build market-rate housing. The developer must, however, build a community center and reserve 20% of the new apartments for lower-income tenants. The project hasn’t yet begun, but a developer has been chosen.

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