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See the Old Bowery in this 1949 Manhattan Tourist Video [VIDEO]
Usually when reading about the Bowery of the mid-20th century, its personage is viewed in static black-and-white contrast. But thanks to YouTube, we have a colorful video view of the thoroughfare, circa 1949.
Mighty Manhattan, New York’s Wonder City is a two-reel video travel guide (nay, propaganda) of yore first released in 1949. According to IMDB, the same production crew (i.e. James Fitzpatrick) that spearheaded the Traveltalks series was also behind this one. And it’s quite awesome. The narrator takes viewers through the old city with a patriotic soundtrack of strings – we see moving pictures of downtown before the Twin Towers, the crazy spire of the Empire State, Chelsea Piers, and the East River spans.
Of most significant note for us, however, is discussion of the Bowery (3:38). Our narrator introduces the Bowery (he pronounces “Bar-ree”) as the Third Avenue El races across the screen. The thoroughfare is described thusly:
Today it is a sad reflection on the best laid plans of the city founders, for in this fantastic maze of light and shadow, weary men are passing. Unfortunate outcasts of society, spending their final days in the dreary habitats of the old Bowery, which has degenerated into one of Manhattan’s poorest districts.
Chinatown also receives a quick nod. Check it, you won’t be disappointed.