What if the city really did rename the Bowery?

The first attempt to change the name of the city’s oldest thoroughfare appears to have been in 1895.

A New York Times article reported a rumor that the Bowery, an English corruption of the Dutch term for farm, bouwerie, would soon be known as Parkhurst Avenue.

It had to be a joke. Parkhurst was Charles Parkhurst, a social reformer who battled the Tammany-backed gangs and saloons that made up the tacky, crime-ridden Bowery in the late 19th century.

The next try at a less low-rent moniker, according to a Times piece from 1897, was Piccadilly. Why Piccadilly? It was never explained—but the proposal didn’t gain any ground.

Another stab at a new name to shed the Bowery stigma happened in 1916. Business owners who wanted a “fresh start” suggested Central Broadway and Cooper Avenue. Dignified, yes, but very dull.

Again, the suggestions went no where. After that, Bowery merchants and residents seem to have thrown in the towel and accepted that their street would always be the city’s skid row.

[Photo: Bowery in 1910, NYPL Digital Collection]

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8 Responses to “What if the city really did rename the Bowery?”

  1. Upstate Ellen Says:

    I LOVE that 1910 photo!

    I’m glad the name was never changed. The Bowery is unique… or is it? I’m not aware of a similarly-named street anyplace else, are you?

  2. EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning edition « NYC Real Estate News Says:

    […] What if the Bowery had a different name? (Ephemeral New York) […]

  3. bowery boy Says:

    Bowery is once again a fashionable name, so I doubt anyone would change it now. But the 2 local CB’s that split the Bowery are approving bars and clubs so fast, that it’ll only be a decade before it is back to a skid row of worn out, retread, former hot-spots. It’s a shame that our elected leaders do not understand how communities rise and fall on their approvals of alcoholic establishments.

  4. Three centuries and three views of the Bowery | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] 19th century history of the Bowery is well known: it went from premier entertainment district to a skid row of cheap theaters, […]

  5. What should we rename Third Avenue? | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] President Jack was against a name change, though he did propose renaming the Bowery “Third Avenue South” to get rid of the Bowery’s “connotation of drunken […]

  6. Real Estate News NYC via Tigho | EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning edition - Real Estate News NYC via Tigho Says:

    […] What if the Bowery had a different name? (Ephemeral New York) […]

  7. Janet Filosa Says:

    And today, most people don’t know that the address is simply Bowery with no Avenue or Street following.

  8. An Irish servant girl’s passionate reply to her Gilded Age wealthy employers | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] women—including Mrs. Russell Sage (wife of the financier) and Mrs. Charles Parkhurst (wife of the well-known social reformer and pastor of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church) weighed […]

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