The Prince Hotel and The Bunker
The last of the SROs are closing and missions are moving out. The building at left in the picture below was the Prince Hotel. It's a few blocks south of the White House at 220 Bowery. It opened as the Prince Hotel in 1927. In the 1940s it was converted into an SRO to pack in soldiers being processed out of the military after being brought to New York City in troopships. In 2011 it was renovated and reopened as the Bowery House, an SRO turned budget hotel. You could stay in one of their 1940s design cabins for about $60–90 per night. Then the COVID-19 pandemic closed it down and the property went up for sale.William S. Burroughs in New York
The building to its right is the former YMCA including "The Bunker", a windowless former locker room in which William S. Burroughs lived from 1974 until 1981. Mark Rothko, an abstract impressionist painter known for his fuzzy rectangles in various murky shades, maintained a studio in the former basketball gym for a while. The poet and Burroughs associate John Giorno also lived in the building, and was still listed on the doorbell panel in 2013.
Across the Bowery from those two buildings is the Bowery Mission, which was founded further south into Chinatown in 1879. It was the third rescue mission established in the U.S. and the second in New York City. It moved to its current location at 227-229 Bowery in 1908-1909. These are the two brick buildings at the center of the first picture below, and toward the left in the second picture. The five-story building at 227 Bowery had been built in 1876 for an undertaker and coffin manufacturer, it was modified when the Mission moved in. They were then able to expand into the adjacent three-story building at 229.
The Salvation Army had a location next to the Bowery Mission at 225 Bowery. Ace Hotels bought that location for $30 million in March 2014 as the Salvation Army moved that branch to Brooklyn.
I stayed at the Bowery House for the first time in May 2016, and returned several times. Let's go in. Reception is on the third floor, there are cabins on the second, third, and fourth.
We have our key, let's find our cabin. The hallways are dark even during the days.
Here it is. The cabins were a little larger than those at the Whitehouse. They also have electrical outlets. That was a nice upgrade from the White House, where you had to leave your electronics down at the front desk for charging.
You were provided with a hand towel and a bath towel. You were also given a bottle of water and a pair of small foam earplugs.
Each room had Bowery-specific artwork — old photographs or paintings of the Bowery, a photograph of The Ramones in front of CBGB, or a related movie poster like Bela Lugosi's Bowery at Midnight.
The roof top was open, with nice views up and down Bowery.
We're looking north from the rooftop, past the Bowery Mission and the New Museum.
Now we've turned to our right to look southeast across Bowery.
There were lounge areas on the second and third floor, but since there is so much to do in New York City, not many people want to hang around where they're staying.
In 2016 there were still three or four permanent residents who had been living there since the 1970s. You might meet one of them here.
After a long day in New York, let's go up to the roof again.
In the picture above, looking north, you can see the Chrysler Building in the distance. It's the building with the white pointed top.
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