How many large, untouched 6 story grand old buildings are left in the L.E.S. to be gobbled up by developers? Well one less now. 190 The Bowery has been bought and is about to be turned into luxury condos. As you watch the video, it’s not hard to sigh when you see the huge spaces and lavish decoration that characterizes this building.
It started life as the Germania Bank, built in 1898 to serve German immigrants who lived in the area in large numbers at that time. It is essentially unchanged from then with 72 rooms and 35,000 square feet of space in what is inf act a very solid building though it looks completely abandoned on the outside so heavily is the ground floor festooned with graffiti and so grimy is the front door.
After the bank closed down it went through several hands and then in 1966 it was bought by young photographer Jay Maisel for $102,000, half the price it had taken to build it originally. Jay, wife Linda and daughter Amanda have lived in it since, using the big spaces as galleries and workshop spaces with the family living mainly on the top floor which they reach using their very own original small, perfect gilded lift.
Of course as time has gone by the The Bowery has progressed from a place where those dead at heel and folks on the fringe dwelled to being the bustling, newly minted hip part of NYC to live. Getting a small apartment in the area now requires serious cash. The Maisels held out against almost daily hassles from the real estate people as the desirability of the area went off the richter scale. But then last September they sold for $55m, which will help they find somehwere else to live without any problems, though it’s unlikely they’ll every have the same huge spaces to live in again.
This grimy remnant of the old Bowery will be transformed, a cleaned up picture of the building already being flashed around to arouse buyer interest though the Maisels have only just moved out, So no work on the place has yet begun. It will be the same building on the outside but the interior will be cut up into condos. Even the original vault which is still in the basement and which is the size of a very substantial apartment in it’s own right willb e turned into a living space. Enjoy the video. it is probably the last time people generally will get to see this building in it’s original state. The eager buyers, keen to live in it, won’t realize what it looked like before all the transformation occurred. Goodbye old New York, hello New York today.