October 29, 2007

The Bowery 2007 Walk: General Themes

Readers of Walking Off the Big Apple know that I just don't walk to shop, eat, and exercise. I walk to make a big deal of something, to see walks as metaphors for other issues. With Garbo Walks, I explore the issues of privacy, celebrity culture, and postwar New York. My British Invasion Walk comments on the continuing influence of English culture on American society. In short, pedestrian activity leads down some unfamiliar streets, even for me.

I'm all about the Bowery right now. The street serves as a slippery signifier of constant urban change, and with imperfect points of departure for its new iteration. The buildings along the way constitute a mélange of layered histories. Many businesses are closing, new hotels and residences are rising, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, probably the most formidable player, will set a tone in its special way.

I am excited about the New Museum arriving on the Bowery, watching its boxy whiteness unfold in its metallic mesh clothing. Aside from the museum, however, the development of the Bowery makes me nervous. The avenue is wide, the history is deep, and the traffic is noisy. I have a lot of questions, mainly about the new Bowery, and I will post them over the next couple of days.

So, the Bowery: A street that stretches from the indigenous people to the Dutch and through 18th century fashion, from the worlds of Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie to the immigrant communities of the Lower East Side and the story of Hong Kong and contemporary China, and the insistent questions of the art world, real estate and the precarious questions of "revitalization," and all mediated in an imperfect way by a fifth-generation Texas woman of Scotch-Irish-Austrian heritage and with a background in American Studies, well, this should be interesting.

So far I've seen a lot of industrial Hobart mixers. I could make cupcakes for all y'all.

See the complete walk here.

Images: Photos of The Bowery, October 29, 2007. WOTBA.

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