12 August 2009

The Graffiti of 190 Bowery


The story behind 190 Bowery makes you realize that certain things can only happen in New York.

The six-story, stone, corner building was built in 1898, designed by Robert Maynicke. It was once the Germania Bank Building, and then a Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank. But since 1966, it has been the home of photographer Jay Maisel, who bought the massive beast for a mere $102,000. At age 79, he apparently lives in it still, and conducts photography workshops to boot. If you have $5,000 and are interested in working from 9 AM to 10 PM for five days straight, with meals thrown in, you could gain access. (I'd do it, but I don't have $5,000 or anything Jay would call a camera.)

Given the tenant, it makes total sense that the darkened and sooty first floor has been given over the rampant, highly artistic defacement. I doubt I have ever seen graffiti so beautiful and varied as to seem almost planned, as I have seen on the ground floor of 190 Bowery. (And I am not a graffiti-loving person.)

As you can see in the final two pictures, Maisel is still in there, somewhere.










7 comments:

Joshua S. Fouts said...

I've been wondering about this for years! Thank you for posting this.

Ken Mac said...

one of my favorite joints on Bowery, I could photograph it forever in this state and hopefully will

Carol Gardens said...

See the inside here. 35,000 square feet! Unbelievable!
http://nymag.com/realestate/vu/2008/09/50481/

sabeth said...

i'm glad maisel has been so tolerant of the graffiti and street art on his building. this is one of the few remaining decent spots for street art in manhattan.

LW said...

Thanks for this post! I've walked by this place all the time thinking it was an abandoned building, and wondering what will become of it. What a deal jay got back then.

Goggla said...

It was even better before 11 Spring was sold and sandblasted. The two buildings together made for one of the best graffiti blocks in the city.

Andrew said...

I was inside once in '96 or '97--amazing.