Friday night, I went to check out a fantastic restaurant and night club some very good friends of mine own and operate called Duane Park which had just relocated from the trendy and pricey neighborhood of TriBeCa on Duane Street to the legendary Bowery Poetry Club space in the once again fashionable Bowery area. For close to century the Bowery was anything but fashionable or trendy but rather a dangerous run down district of brothels and bars. But in fact, during the early part of the 19th century it was quite elegant with its large mansions and a very vibrant and respectable theater scene. It was the installation of the elevated trains which covered the streets in darkness that changed the neighborhood and trasnsformed it to a place for low rents and cheap drinks. That’s why it’s been so amazing to witness what’s transpired in the Bowery of late which now features trendy hotels like The Bowery Hotel where celebrities can often be spotted, new developments such as The Avalon Bowery Place and elegant spots like Duane Park with its incredibe food, music and Burlesque dance and jazz shows.
As a filmmaker and fan of documentaries, when the Bowery is mentioned, I must bring attention to a film considered by many to be among the most important films from the post-war American independent scene which I’d like to share with you – Lionel Rogosin’s On the Bowery which documents a bygone era that still resonates today. His style as an independent filmmaker was straightforward and compassionate. His films, made “from the inside” showed the subjects he chose in their normal surroundings and allowed them to speak in their own words. By choosing ordinary people caught up in universal problems — homelessness, racial discrimination, war and peace, labor relations, and poverty — Rogosin made his point poignantly. The Oscar®-nominated On the Bowery is a masterpiece of the American blend of documentary/fiction.
Each neighborhood in New York City has so many stories, steeped in history, full of life and the Bowery’s history is most dramatic. It’s exciting to see the rennassaince occuring there now. It’s accessible, it’s fun, and uniqely New York.
Take a look at some of the clips and photos here. When you’re looking for a uniquely New York night out on the town, check out Duane Park, located at 308 Bowery at East 1st St just above Houston. When you make your reservation, be sure tell them Sal from Fenwick Keats Real Estate sent you!