In the late 1800's, the Bowery in New York City was home to one of America's first street gangs - the Bowery Boys. From the 1930's to the 1970's, it was home to the "Bowery Bums". In the 70's and 80's, high crime, low rent. Since the Civil War, it hasn't had much to promote besides the historic Bowery Mission and great deals on industrial kitchen supplies. All that has changed though as the Bowery has recently experienced a renaissance beyond anyone's wildest dreams. There's contemporary architecture everywhere (New Museum), there are swank hotels up and down the street (Bowery Hotel), and John Varvatos's high style has taken over the old CBGB's. Weird to say the least.
Now to the point of the story. Jay Maisel saw past the grime, the homelessness, and the violence. In 1966, a fledgling artist and photographer, Maisel bought the old Germania Bank building on the Bowery for $102,000. $102,000! 35,000 square feet and 72 rooms for $100K. I used to walk past this building every weekend and never knew what was inside. Look at it now - and read this article from New York Magazine. Amazing: