See the Old Bowery in this 1949 Manhattan Tourist Video [VIDEO]

Posted on: January 8th, 2013 at 9:23 am by

vintage-bowery-1

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.

vintage-bowery-2

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.

Recent Stories

Clayton’s Corner: At the Memorial for LES Documentarian, Toyo Tsuchiya [PHOTOS]

If, in the early ’80s, Toyo Tsuchiya’s ambition was to be remembered as a serious New York City documentary photographer, he could not have picked a more overlooked and neglected piece of landscape than the Forsyth and Rivington Street area, between Delancey and Houston. At the time, it was a drug- and crime-infested subdivision. As […]

175 Ludlow Street Sells to NJ Steel Supplier

Lately, real estate is trading rather briskly in the confines of Hell Square. At least four area buildings sold since last summer. Time to add another onto the heap. Word crossed our desk this week that 175 Ludlow Street, just south of Houston, likewise changed hands. Residents there received a notice from the new ownership […]

Health Department Shutters ‘The Skinny’ on Orchard Street

It’s lights out for The Skinny bar on Orchard Street. Nearly three months after pissing off (or, on) Hell Square with its Christmas “Jingle Hell’s” holiday stunt, the rowdy nightclub was subject to a city inspection yesterday. The Department of Health came down to 174 Orchard Street and ordered the establishment shut. The requisite yellow […]

First Rendering of the 14-Story Hotel Rising at Vacant Eldridge Street Lot

What the neighborhood doesn’t need is another large-scale hotel. But that’s precisely what’s happening at 79 Eldridge Street, where construction last week commenced on a new context-killing fourteen-story lodge. And now we have our first sight of what to expect from this long-vacant lot. It’s amazing how these illustrations completely gussy up neighborhoods to make […]

The Neon Lights of Sunshine Cinema Have Gone Dark

The Sunshine Cinema on East Houston is one step closer to its grave. While the brickwork of the building remains bathed in orange glow, the marquee lettering was not as lucky. As of this week, its token neon signage has gone dark. Shadows are now cast on the sidewalk below. Demolition is nigh. This latest action […]