On the Old Bowery: Considering Piccadilly

Posted on: September 24th, 2010 at 6:19 am by

It’s time to turn once again to our feature On the Old Bowery, which spotlights antiquated newspaper stories about the Bowery.

What if the Bowery was no longer the Bowery, but Piccadilly?  Well, believe it or not, there was actually a time when local officials were rumored to have considered such a horrific change.

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An article published in the New York Times in March 1897 exposed the issue by sending a reporter to “that ancient thoroughfare to ascertain the facts in the case.”  When he reached out to William “Fish Bill” Van Sickles,  the local “mayor of the Bowery,” for comment, the politician just avoided the question.

On Popular Song:

It was said that the song “The Bowery” had killed trade all along the line of the famous artery.

On the Bowery Name:

“I should do all in my power to prevent any such change.  The name of the Bowery is one of the town’s oldest institutions, and there is no more reason to alter it than there is alter the name of Fifth Avenue.”

Mulhooly said that if the reporter could find one resident of the Bowery who was willing to change its name he, Mulhooly, would give him all he could drink gratis for a year.

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