Saying Goodbye to the Old Bowery and (For Now) to Billy Leroy

Photo by Daniel Levin.

One observer quoted by the New York Times called it a “museum of madness and beauty.”   Over the weekend, about four dozen people came to the Bowery to say goodbye to Billy’s Antiques.  After 20 years, Billy Leroy’s tent was taken down to make room for a new building.  Friend of The Lo-Down’s Constanza Mirre came upon the event Saturday; Daniel Levin (one of the directors of “Dirty Old Town“) was kind enough to send her this photo, which she forwarded to us.

Festival Prompts New Gentrification Debate

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At a news conference last week announcing the schedule for the inaugural Festival of Ideas, New Museum Director Lisa Phillips said, “three years ago, when we moved to the Bowery we witnessed a dramatic transformation of this neighborhood.”   The festival (May 4-8), she added, is an opportunity to engage the community in a conversation about its future.  It seems s conversation has already started,  reigniting an old debate —  about the New Museum’s role in accelerating the pace of gentrification on the Bowery.

Even the most ardent Lower East Side preservationists would have to concede the museum has added greatly to the cultural life of the neighborhood. The festival is a collaboration among many downtown-centric organizations. A number of groups dedicated to fighting gentrification — including the Cooper Square Committee, Good Old Lower East Side and the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors — are taking part.

As we reported yesterday, however, antiques dealer Billy Leroy (“Mayor of the Bowery”) is not exactly embracing the festivall. He told Curbed, “these yuppies from the New Museum don’t get it. NYC does not need another street fair. It’s not cool to try and gentrify the Bowery.”

This brief item prompted a couple of interesting reader comments.

Billy Leroy on the Festival of Ideas; “It’s Not Cool to Gentrify the Bowery”

Not everyone is excited about the Festival of Ideas. Curbed reports:

Billy Leroy, proprietor of Billy’s Antiques and mayor of the Bowery, is not into this whole Festival of Ideas thing being put on by the New Museum. He writes: “I just read about this Street Art Street Fair on Bowery …I’ve prepared my sign..These yuppies from the New Museum don’t get it. NYC does not need another street fair. It’s not cool to try and gentrify the Bowery. I’m sending all the bums I know down there to give them a dose of the real NYC! but since they are Sheeple and can’t face reality they will have security I’m sure.” May 7 just got more interesting!

Good Morning: Aces & Eights Update, Chatham Square Library Temporarily Closing, Keanu in the Hood

Downtown Skyline

Photo by Joel Raskin.

78 degrees and sunny today.  Alternate side parking is suspended today and tomorrow in observance of Sukkah. District 1’s Community Education Council meets tonight to dscuss, among other things, the latest test score results (we will post the full agenda a bit later).