|Photograph of Steve Brodie's Bar at 114 Bowery, New York City, owned by Steve Brodie (1861-1901), famed for supposed jump from the Brooklyn Bridge in 1886.|
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bowery to Broadway
The story of Manhattan as the city we know begins in the section of town known as The Bowery. In 1624 the Dutch began to settle in what they called New Amsterdam. The name Bowery comes from a Dutch word meaning "farm". Over the years this area experienced urban expansion as the farm lands disappeared to the development of the city.
At first much of the Bowery neighborhood became elegant and highbrow, but near the mid-nineteenth century the area degenerated into a poor rough place. The Bowery became famous for its bars, brothels, pawnshops, and flophouses. Gangs ruled their individual turfs and sometimes clashed in violent confrontations. For over a hundred years the Bowery retained a bad reputation that was known the world over.
In more recent years there has been a move toward gentrification with an attempt to attract new business and tourism. There are a number of places of historical interest to visit in The Bowery as well as art galleries, museums, night clubs, restaurants, and other upscale establishments.
Samantha Redstreake Gearysaid: "... Whenever I think Manhattan, I think of the theaters on Broadway and the fabulous FOOD!"
|Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th Avenue and West 47th Street in Times Square in New York City|
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
From The Bowery we can follow Broadway, once the Wickquasgeck Trail used by the native peoples who inhabited the area prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Broadway spans the entire Manhattan Island and then beyond. As one of the most famous streets in New York City, many known landmarks can be found along the route.
Broadway has become synonymous with The Theater and most notably, Musical Theater. The Great White Way, as Broadway is also referred to as the street passes the bright lights of the Theater District, has been the subject of so many movies that many people associate Manhattan with the theater first and foremost.
The only time I've been to a musical in a Broadway theater was in 1976 when I saw The Magic Show with Doug Henning who was a popular hippie styled magician for a number of years. I'd seen his first television magic special the previous December and was very impressed. Seeing him in the Broadway show that had first catapulted him to fame was a special treat for me. I was working on a touring magic show at the time and had developed a special interest in magic stage productions. This is a musical that will doubtfully be performed by many stage companies in the future due to the nature of the illusions and the right performer to present them. Doug Henning died in 2000 at age 52.
Have you been to any musicals or theater productions in the Manhattan Theater District? Have you visited the Bowery? Have you seen the movie Gangs of New York?