References to the Bowery in Film

By Phineas Upham

The Bowery is one of the rich cultural districts to grow out of the gentrification that’s currently underway in New York City. The place was once the hub for affluent city-dwellers looking for a nice space to hang their hats. It fell into disrepair prior to World War II and remained that way well into the 20th century. More of a cultural centerpiece, it devolved into an oddity that made for excellent film fodder.

Over the years, the Bowery neighborhood has changed dramatically and become part of New York’s Register of Historical Places. The 1933 film “The Bowery”, which was pre-code and released before the American cinema’s rating system for mature cinema. The ultra-violent film depicted the Bowery neighborhood during its fall from grace throughout the 1890s.

That representation of the poor would continue in the 1933 film Little Annie Rooney. This silent film featured one of the era’s most prominent child actresses as a full grown adult playing a young girl. The film depicted an Irish immigrant family growing up in the slums of the Bowery neighborhood in New York.

The Bowery’s seedier side was showcased twice as the setting for two films revolving around gang warfare in the city. The first, The Warriors, was more of a contemporary glimpse into the city. The Punks, who are a street gang in the city, have territory in the Bowery subway station. In the film Gangs of New York, the Bowery plays a small role as territory held by the street gang called “The Bowery Boys”.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.

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