Fear and Loathing Gentrification on the Bowery, Circa 1904

Posted on: May 20th, 2021 at 5:09 am by

Photo: National Police Gazette

His name was Chuck Connors, the unofficial “mayor” of Chinatown at the turn of last century. Connors lived on Doyers Street and was friends with Richard K. Fox, founding owner of the historic lifestyle magazine Police Gazette. He lived there rent-free due to a purported arrangement with the publication to which he provided a man-on-the-street column.

The Gazette itself is considered a forerunner of the contemporary men’s lifestyle magazine as we know it (e.g. Maxim, Playboy). Coverage flirted with obscenity, including murders, wild-west antics, and sport. There were also engravings and photographs of scantily clad strippers, burlesque dancers, and prostitutes.

In one such Gazette entry – column number 6 published sometime in 1904 – Connors bemoaned the loss of his beloved “old Bowery.” The loss of so-called “free-and-easys” and musuems to “stores and business buildings” (gentrification?). Written as dialogue in the parlance of the time.

Much like Travis Bickle quipped seventy years later, Conners also wondered when the “Street Cleaning Department” will “wipe us off de map.”

Recent Stories

Bialystoker Tower Tops out at 30 Stories on East Broadway

One month is an eternity when covering the rising real estate in the neighborhood. In that time since our last follow-up, the tower flanking the Bialystoker Nursing Home finally reached the top. The shadow-casting luxury development at 232 East Broadway reached its thirty-story pinnacle late last week. Token stars-and-stripes affixed to the top. Round Square […]

Patti Smith Rallies with Supporters for Elizabeth Street Garden as City Terminates Lease

The legal and political battle to save Elizabeth Street Garden from redevelopment intensified last week as the city sent the beloved urban oasis in Little Italy a notice terminating its month-to-month lease at the end of October. News of the potential eviction broke over social media in the midst of garden plans to host a […]

Late Photographer Corky Lee Gets Mural Treatment on Doyers Street

There is a new tribute mural in Chinatown that honors the memory of beloved photographer Corky Lee. The nascent Chinatown Mural Project is behind the new artwork, which stretches along a 35-foot wall on Doyers Street, the nerve center of Chinatown. The mural is two-toned – blue and off-white – and meant to resemble “Ming” […]

One Year Later, ‘Fiore Escape’ COVID Sessions Still Captivate

One year after first captivating passersby at Essex and Grand Streets, the free fire escape concert series is back for another. Indeed, musician Jill Fiore will perform anew from the second floor of her Essex Street tenement (above Delancey Car Service). The next so-called “Fiore Escape” show is slated for October 15, as announced on […]

Parks Department Installs Fence at Allen Mall Bathhouse in Response to Nadja Rose Madder

The Parks Department is upping the ante on deterring a homeless artist from painting and gathering at the Allen Street Bathhouse. Earlier this week, the city began assembling an eight-foot chain-link enclosure to (partially) fence in the sidewalk plaza. It is on this spot that transgender artist Nadja Rose Madder has been transforming the brickwork […]