Ambitious ‘Windows on the Bowery’ Placard Project to Highlight History of Thoroughfare, Launches July 5

Posted on: June 24th, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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These days, the Bowery rarely gets due recognition for its pioneering architecture, and early contributions to myriad art forms, such as tattooing, punk, vaudeville, and Yiddish Theater. Instead, it’s really all about which historic buildings can be sold to the highest bidder for demolition and re-development.

Armed with a platoon of historians and visually-striking imagery, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors hopes to change this mentality. To entice people to start caring about this ancient foot-path. The grassroots neighborhood group embarked on an ambitions project called “Windows on the Bowery,” founded with the express purpose of spreading awareness, garnering appreciation, and effecting structural protections for our beloved thoroughfare. It’s a creative effort nearly two years in the making that will “highlight remarkable people, events, buildings, and achievements associated with particular addresses” along the Bowery.

As the name of the exhibit suggests, poster-sized placards rife with location-based information will reside in their respective Bowery windows, from Chatham to Cooper Square. Each one being a window into the past. (Get it?) In total, there are sixty-four panels containing histories penned by eighteen notable historians and researchers. Placards will measure roughly 18×24 inches.

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In addition to the display at the Bowery locations, a full exhibition of all the posters is planned for the western windows of the Cooper Union building, and inside the landmark HSBC bank at 58 Bowery.

“This isn’t a vanity project,” Bowery Alliance of Neighbors co-founder David Mulkins says. “We wanted people to see how important this street is.”

If the mainstream identifies and understands the historical significance of the Bowery, then perhaps the wanton decimation might ease. After all, the street is glaringly without landmark protections, despite its position on the National Register of Historic Places.

Nevertheless, Windows on the Bowery is unlikely to change the Landmarks Preservation Commission. But maybe it’ll open some new eyes to the layers of cultural history on the former boulevard of broken dreams.

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