ATLAS OBSCURA

190 Bowery - New York City

It’s the American Dream as a house, a building that went from rags to riches on a street once known for its murders, now known for its centrality. Photographer Jay Maisel broke the bank when he bought the bank in 1966 for $102,000. Back then, the Bowery wasn’t a place you went so much as ended up, and the main floor (now a basketball court) was allegedly knee-deep in garbage and coated in soot, with “every single thing that can come out of a human body” left on the doorstep. Maisel’s parents cried.

Today, the bohemian castle may look deceptively decrepit on the outside, but inside it’s a dream. A home-made ventilation system (to deter the insane expense of what central air would cost in such a space) consists of a network of plastic tubing throughout the building. The original 1898 copper cage elevator still works, the second and third floor are gallery spaces, the fifth floor has various workshops (including a room dedicated to Mylar-window shades), the sixth floor has bedrooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen, and the roof a wowing view of lower Manhattan.

While you’re at it, why not take lessons from Maisel? Details on 190 Bowery’s photography studio at Atlas Obscura…