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 8: The Wretches of Povertyville  

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THE WRETCHES OF POVERTYVILLE

Another manifestation of the middle-class fascination with the Bowery was the social reform movement’s horrified condemnation of the physical, social and moral horrors to be found on this street. The most famous of these was Riis’ How the Other Half Lives, an 1898 photo expose and reform tract. Another work from the period, Ignatz Leo Nascher’s The Wretches of Povertyville, begins:

 ‘Tis a wretched world, this underworld of Povertyville, where poverty begets vice, and vice begets crime, where virtue has its price, and conscience is stilled, then forgotten.

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