On the Old Bowery: Brothel at 206

Posted on: January 17th, 2011 at 6:39 am by

This long-overdue installment of On the Old Bowery dates back almost fifteen years to the day. January 5, 1996.

Armed with the Manifest Destiny mentality, developers are quickly transforming the Bowery from top to bottom.  Historical houses and turn-of-the-century tenements along the thoroughfare are under constant threat from this front-line assault.  Since last summer, 206 Bowery has been a focal point of such threats. The owner of the 1800s Federal style row house sought to evict the tenants and raze the iconic structure.  But thanks to the efforts of holdout and longtime resident, Ralph Lewis, the Landmarks Preservation Commission caught wind of the situation, and fast-tracked the building for possible landmarking. The process remains painfully slow, but hopes are high. Especially with the endorsement of Speaker Sheldon Silver.

This image has been archived or removed.

Like so many other properties on the Bowery, 206 Bowery has quite the colorful history in its old age, well deserving of some renewed attention.  Which brings us to a New York Times article published on January 5, 1996. Indeed, in one of its former lives, 206 Bowery was actually a sex slave house.  A “heavily guarded” brothel, where Thai women were smuggled and forced to have sex with over 400 men in order to score freedom. All were lured to the Bowery under false pretenses of lucrative restaurant jobs.  Instead, scores of women were held captive behind a complex series of locked doors, which were monitored by guards and video cameras.

The human trafficking had occurred for over a year before the five-person ring was caught and shut down.

Recent Stories

East Broadway Subway Station Turns 85

The East Broadway subway station wasn’t always a shady dungeon attracting crime. Once upon a time, the transit stop inspired celebrations across the Lower East Side. It was exactly eighty-five years ago – January 1, 1936 – that the East Broadway subway station debuted to the public. The feat of subterranean engineering, then known as […]

Looking at the New Ludlow House Annex Atop Demolished Libation Site

Well, that was quick. With Libation excised from the Lower East Side, the hole is now filled. Taken over by Ludlow House. The building at 137 Ludlow Street was demolished last year, and replaced in a matter of months. In fact, it’s already operational. The architecture of this one-story newcomer mirrors design elements of its […]

Stringer Promises ‘Fair Share’ of PPP for City Businesses

City Comptroller (and mayoral candidate) Scott Stringer held a press conference yesterday at the Chinatown kiosk on Canal Street, announcing a plan to funnel federal Payroll Protection (PPP) dollars to New York city businesses. It certainly triggered an uncomfortable memory of last year’s PPP fiasco. The first round of PPP went into effect just a […]

‘Open Streets’ Town Hall Yields More Questions than Answers

Tuesday night’s Town Hall on Open Restaurants and Open Streets, hosted by Community Boards 3 and 6 – left residents with more questions than answers regarding the long-term impact these pandemic-era health and economic neighborhood solutions have on a post-COVID city. However, the online meetup did bring a wide scope of information in terms of […]

Unused Half of Bowery’s Sunshine Hotel Flophouse Available to Rent

The leasing banner has been strung from the facade of 241 Bowery for more than two years. Without much success. The second and third floors (combined 8,938 square-feet) – once part of the Sunshine Hotel flophouse – are again on the market. And at a hefty price: $6,495 for a “raw” space that requires renovations […]