New York/Freeman Alley

freeman_atm
Freeman Alley — © Brian Rose

Tucked inside the block behind the New Museum on the Bowery is a narrow alley that terminates in the center of the block. Access is from Rivington Street between a clothing store and a lumber yard. That’s the colliding nature of the neighborhood, which is moving upscale at a fast pace. Freeman Alley, as it is called, contains a restaurant, an art gallery, and the rear entrances to various businesses.

freemanalley_doorFreeman Alley — © Brian Rose

Not so long ago, it was a dark and fearful place just off the old Skid Row Bowery, and in fact, the Bowery Mission, which still feeds and houses the homeless, has a door onto the alley. My work space is just around the corner on Stanton Street, but two large loft buildings stand between my back windows and this inner sanctum of the block. It not a dangerous place any more, and a steady stream of diners walk through it to the restaurant Freeman’s at the end of the alley.

freemanalleyFreeman Alley — © Brian Rose

Freeman Alley has atmosphere, which is something that cannot be said about the newly cleaned up Extra Place, another mid-block alley just two blocks to the north on East 1st Street. That alley was once an equally desperate looking place just off the Bowery right behind the punk club CBGB. It was a great place to photograph your band, or perhaps, engage in other more nefarious activities.

Freeman Alley and Extra Place are two of the only alleys in Manhattan, a feature common in many cities, but almost non-existent in New York. Silicon Alley, a term used to describe the burgeoning tech industry in New York, is a misnomer.

2 thoughts on “New York/Freeman Alley

  1. Paul

    There’s also Cortlandt Alley between White St and Canal (2 blocks long!) and the very alley-like Franklin Place between Franklin & White streets, both in Tribeca. There are a couple of other very short north-south streets like those further south & west in Tribeca. But they aren’t a common feature in Manhattan

  2. admin Post author

    And Washington Mews and Patchin Place. But they’re not actually alleys, they’re mews and places. 🙂

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