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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Outside 190 Bowery, in Soho

190 Bowery, NYC
Photo by myself on the corner of Bowery and Spring Street.

Four guys sat on the steps of 190 Bowery, a distinctive building known to most New Yorkers, just north of the Manhattan Bridge.

The stone building is ornate and old. Its windows are dirty and its base is covered with paste-ups and graffiti. It looks deserted.

Invariably, someone will be sitting or lying on the front steps. Mark and I have driven by often, and I've longed to take a photograph because the scene would look so transient. This weekend, I walked by and these four fellows allowed me to take their photo. I was ecstatic.


I first heard about 190 Bowery from Mark, during one of our drives past the building.

'Oh that's where the famous photographer lives. I forget his name.'

The photographer Jay Maisel and his family live inside the six-story building, which looks completely derelict outside. He bought the former bank building in 1966 for just over $100k. Yes, that's $100k.

190 Bowery, Exterior
The base of 190 Bowery is literally covered with graffiti tags and paste-ups.

Of course, times have changed and we're talking about 40 years ago, when Soho was nothing like the posh neighborhood it is now. You'd be hard pressed to find a studio apartment selling for $300k today, never mind a six-story building.

New York Magazine published a great article about the building a couple years ago, which includes a slide show of the interiors. Click here to see it.

The Dragon Parade on Mott Street, The Taiwanese Festival in Union Square and A Careful Choice, in Chinatown.


F. said...

What a story! thanks for the link to the slideshow, the interior is amazing... no wonder they don't want to sell.

Olivier said...

belle photo, un moment de poesie dans un monde très dur pour les SDF. Superbe, une de tes plus belles photos.

barbie said...

Nice pic but one of the"fellows" is a woman with a purse on her left shoulder.

Kitty said...

Welcome F
I'm glad you liked the link. It's incredible how different the interiors are from the outside, aren't they?

Thanks Olivier
I'm quite proud of this photo, too. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Hi Barbie
Actually that is a fellow with one of the straps of his backpack on. He had the beginnings of a beard and I took many photos from a couple angles.

It would be cool if he were a woman, though!

valeria said...

Good job, Kitty. I never have the nerve to ask people if I can photograph them....
The second shot is really good!

Lily Hydrangea said...

wow, what a deal!
Love both shots Kitty, the portraits of the men & of the building.

WTakeuchi said...

Hi Kitty! Both pictures are amazing. The colors were really necessary in the second one (which is very dinamic).

Yesterday I have watched the film "New York I Love You". I enjoyed it very much. The short story of the old couple touched me because they act just like my parents!

Thank you for the link in your blog pointing to my blog! Thats an honor!

Steffe said...

cool story. And a fine portrait.

The Shutter said...

Great story! Cool shot.

lewi14 said...

Very good, no: excellent portraits!!!

Kitty said...

Thanks Valeria!
I encourage you to ask people for their photos if you think the shot will be a good one. I love shooting candids but I wanted a close-up of these guys. They were nice.

Thanks Lily!

You're welcome Washington!
I'm not sure I know that movie. I'll have to check it out. It sounds interesting.

Thanks Steffe!

Hi Shutter
Yes I'm glad I could find shots of the interior online. I was wondering what it was like in there.

Thanks Lewi!

Fredrik said...

The picture with the people is a wonderful street photograph. You're so brave. Congratulations!

barbie said...

I looked and looked at that pic. I did have a hard time believing you would miss such a thing with that great eye you have. Are ya sure it wasn't a post menopausal woman? I've seen some long scragglies on those gals!

Luis Pérez said...

I love your blog, great pictures and great stories too! ;)