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Bowery Lands Spot On State Historic Registry

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The Bowery may be best known for its gritty past as the city's "Skid Row" or as the street where punk music held sway at the legendary CBGB's, but it's also known for its rich architectural history and role in the growth of the city. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

The old Bowery Savings Bank building still stands on the Bowery near Grand Street, and looks nearly the same as it did 110 years ago.

"The Bowery is New York City's history in a mile and a quarter. New York was developed the way it was developed because of the Bowery," said Architectural Historian Kerri Culhane.

An old Dutch word meaning "farm", the Dutch established the Bowery as a wagon road almost 400 years ago. It's why the community-based housing organization called the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council spearheaded the effort to get the Bowery Historic District on the state's register of historic places.

The district runs from Chatham Square in Chinatown up to Cooper Square in the East Village. The designation comes at a time when the Bowery is under intense development pressure.

"You will notice as you go down the Bowery steel and glass structures being built after very precious historic buildings had been demolished. And that's the threat that we are facing," said Two Bridges Neighborhood Council President Victor Papa.

The designation cannot stop development, but it does give property owners incentives to preserve older buildings rather than tearing them down and putting up new ones.

"Property owners are eligible for state and federal tax credits to rehabilitate historic properties and that is potentially millions and millions of dollars of investment that can take place on this street to rehabilitate historic properties," Culhane said.

Culhane adds that while the Bowery has had its up and downs, the history is worth preserving.

"In the 19th century this was the working class 'main street.' The Bowery was where all of the immigrants living in the wards that flanked it came to have a good time," Culhane said.

Now that the Bowery Historic District is on the New York State Register of Historic Places it is automatically nominated for the National Register.

That announcement is expected to be made sometime early in the new year.

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