For decades, the massive six-story, 72-room building at the corner of Bowery and Spring has served as a giant outdoor canvas for graffiti writers and street artists. Now it’s getting cleaned up. Earlier Tuesday, workers began removing the layers and layers of wheat-pasted posters that have been applied to its surfaces over the years. Once a bank, the landmark was reportedly bought by photographer Jay Maisel in 1966 for a paltry $102,000. According to Bowery Boogie, there’s a very good reason why the eccentric New Yorker let the very public art build up:
“As the urban lore goes, the artist and family refused to scrub the graffiti because the city allegedly rebuffed his attempts to do the same in the bad old days of the Bowery.”
Notable street photographer Dusty Rebel posted images on his Instagram and website showing workers on a ladder with still-intact posters by street artists like Fumero, ENX, and COST lying on the ground next to them. “End of an Era: The Dismantling of 190 Bowery,” he wrote.
ANIMAL spoke to a worker at the scene who said his crew is clearing out some of the stuff on the inside of the building and removing some of the work from a few of the panels covering the first floor windows so they can get “measurements.” Laborers could be seen walking back and forth, throwing photo gear out.
A security guard at the site said the new owner “may want to keep the graffiti,” but he seemed to be speculating. We assume that whoever paid tens of millions for the prime real estate isn’t going to leave it the way they found it, however, so it’s pretty safe to say the end is nigh for a graffitied 190 Bowery.