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The Evolution of the Bowery and its Landmarks

By Samuel Phineas Upham

In the earliest years of the Bowery neighborhood, its most famous landmark was The Boar’s head Tavern. This was one of the few watering holes that George Washington decided to stop at on his way to the waterfront to witness the British depart from American soil. As the state of New York grew, the neighborhood became more affluent.

The Bowery Theatre, which burned down four times in 17 years before the fire of 1929 finally destroyed the building for good, was its next largest landmark and cultural symbol. Thomas Hamblin popularized the playhouse, and American playwriting by extension, when he took the controversial stance of providing a stage to American playwrights. He offered runs of six months or longer, and the hall was frequented by the likes of George Washington Dixon and Thomas D. Rice.

The Amato Opera, founded in 1948, is part of the backbone of New York City stagecraft. Its purpose was to give young singers and smaller orchestras the chance to take the stage, and the organization was successful for 61 years. Tony Amato retired in 2009, and the playhouse closed with his departure.

Thanks to revitalization efforts in the early 1990s that sustained until the 2000 era, the Bowery neighborhood is now preserved as a historical district. The neighborhood is listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places, which means that property owners there are encouraged to revitalize instead of rebuilding.

The Bowery also has an unofficial Little Saigon. New York Magazine points out that Chinatown is the bigger and better destination, but this niche part of the city is fast becoming the source for Vietnamese cuisine and culture in the city of Manhattan.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Twitter.

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