the little house and the little NYU students

by marjorieingall on March 13, 2011

Clueless-wonder piece on the NYT-NYU-colab East Village blog. With East Village Grieve, Bowery Boogie, Jeremiah and so many other neighborhood blogs (written by people who actually know the neighborhood) chronicling the East Village, it’s kinda funny-sad that the NYT felt there was a compelling need for a blog by navel-gazy, ahistorical, overweeny students of the university many of us feel is by far a greater bane than boon to the nabe. And this post…oy.

A 22-year-old who acknowledges he’s only lived here 8 months complains that the oldsters should stop kvetching about the impending destruction of 35 Cooper Square. Why? Because 35 Cooper has “lost its history.” (What does that phrase even mean?) Because change is constant. And because this neighborhood’s history of welcoming artists, hippies, freedom-fighters and punks means that maybe the next generation it welcomes will do cool things too.

Uh, the kind of people who can afford to live on the new Cooper Square/Bowery are not the grungy creative class anymore. Manhattan is no longer hospitable to those people. (Kids whose parents pay for them to go to private colleges are welcome to fancy themselves the creative class, of course.) Today, anything in the nabe that reeks of the past is being razed for gleamy new Eurotrashy hotels and pretentio-condos.

I have no idea why my comment wasn’t posted, but Bowery Boy’s response was far better than mine anyway. Here it is, in its entirety:

“But why are we fighting it?”

Well, because 35 Cooper is the oldest and last house of what was once Bowery Village – a buggey ride north from nyc, which at the time still ended at Chambers street, shortly after the wall became Wall St. Do you get what the history of that means? It says so much about what nyc was and is. It’s called legacy and heritage.

35 Cooper was built before the Civil War, before parks existed, and across the street from this house was a public garden – Vauxhall Gardens where PT. Barnum was later to mount his first productions.

35 Cooper is one of 6 remaining Houses on the Bowery. How rare and unique on this island of skyscapers that we still have a few actual houses. Please learn about the value of Intimacy and scale exemplified by such local gems that contrast the numbness of the gigantic buildings of midtown.

And what is important about these 6 houses is that they connect all of the other landmarked buildings on Bowery into one historic district from Cooper Union to Chatum Square. If you get rid of such linking sites, then the Landmarks Commission has wasted it’s decades of time designating the other buildings – cuz there’ll be no connection of a cohesive historic district, which, by the way, could be a tourist destination, tax driver, and moneymaker for all the other businesses along Bowery.

It’s not about the restuarant that occupied the space last month, or the artists that lived there in the last decade – it’s about 200 years of history that, if torn down, no one else will ever get to experience firsthand.

And it’s not about this one building, but more about what it means in context of all the other buildings on the Bowery. Please learn about this rich history. Bowery was originally an Indian trail, and then the High Road – it was nyc first highway out of town where trappers and hunters would stop before getting to the city to sell their bounty. This house was there then.

Please learn about Peter Stuyvesant who originally owned this land and what he meant to the founding of nyc. Whether you no it or not, probably not, just looking at this house teaches you much about early nyc.

The Bowery is where Vaudeville, tap dance and Yiddish theater began. So, if we tear down all this early history, all we’ll be left with is the Bowery’s seedy skid row days, and no one want’s that to be the Bowery’s only legacy.

And if we replace these gems with nothing but more bars for you frat-types, then a couple of decades from now, when you’re long gone, we’ll be the ones still here who’ll have to relive those bad days of drunks and dives all over again. Please don’t do that to us.

And if you can’t be helpful and can’t see why, then please just leave us to fight this ourselves – we were doing this before you got here and we’ll be doing it after your gone, because we have a reason why.

— Bowery Boy

Amen to that. The local Community Board did pass a resolution to let the developer know how opposed local organizations like the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors are to the building’s destruction, and the online petition with over 2,000 signatures is being passed along, and architectural historians and activists and established neighborhood bloggers and famous authors like Pete Hamill are doing their best to keep the non-dipshit-non-NYU-student public informed.

Earlier: The Battle to Save 35 Cooper

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: