Welcome To Extra Place... Steps From The Bowery... The Middle Of The World...

Imagine this: you’re in between E 1st &2nd in Manhattan. Your feet sink into wet mulch, rows of tall wheat crops licked by rain go as far as the eye can see. Maybe there's a loud bullfrog croaking but you wouldn't hear over the island wind. It’s 1800 and Philip Minthorne’s 115-acre farm will soon be broken apart into city lots and give way to a place much less serene. 

The Evolution of Extra Place |

There is no shortage of stories of suffering in NYC’s Bowery. The neighborhood began hosting a notable homeless population as early as the 1870s. By 1900, there were more than 100 lodging houses and missions lining the Bowery, and when the Great Depression peaked, an estimated 75,000 people took refuge on what was called the “mile of hell” between East 14th Street and Chatham Square.

By the 1960s it was clear that “Bowery Bums” weren’t going anywhere. With the reopening of city life came an influx of suburbanites, artists, and students seeking cheap rent. Soon after neighborhood staples like saloons, barber colleges, pawnshops, scratch houses, and greasy spoon diners —which supported the Bowery’s hobo culture for decades— folded along with the cornerstones, the Bowery News and Bowery Blue Book. By the end of the 1960s, the Bowery was swelled with transients and navigating the growing city-wide heroin epidemic. 

Our little corner of the Bowery, Extra Place, was at the top of the 1970s primed with the cheapest rent you could find and an influx of young artists looking for a place to call home. When we started, our walk-ins were panhandlers and industry men and by the height of it all, we had some of the greatest rockers of our time walking through our door. In one photo from the early era Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, and Joey Ramone are standing alongside a wrecked car in our garbage-strewn alley; a truck emblazoned with the CBGB logo in the back. This is our Extra Place! A dead-end on East 1st Street.  

The Evolution of Extra Place |

By the late 1970s, NYC had been in a deep recession for years and low-income neighborhoods across the boroughs were in desperate condition. Bob Mulero’s 1978 photo of Extra Place shows our alley in total disarray. Yet still, there are vital signs. The hand-lettered sign once belonged to a bust parking garage, and in the back, you can see the three-story freestanding house on East 2nd Street. You wouldn't know it but CBGB was in full swing here, its back door was one of the doors on the left. 

The Evolution of Extra Place | Vintage new york, Nyc history, New york

It didn’t look like much but we were at the center of a national movement. Not everyone who played at CBGB changed the world but the ones that did really did. That scummy back door led to the epicenter of the country’s punk and new wave scene. Like most things, even CBGB had humble beginnings. Hilly Krystal joined the block in 1973 and started a small venue called Hilly’s. That didn’t last long. By February of 1974, under the new name, the first musical act was booked: The Squeeze made up of Television’s Fred Smith and JD Daugherty, who would later become part of The Patti Smith Group.

There was never just one kind of person at CBGB and that in itself was its draw. It wasn’t just County or Punk or Blues or anything it was everything. An open invite was the aura of the club. Like the Ramones call of unity, “Gabba Gabba, we accept you, we accept you, one of us” CBGB even put out its own siren song, calling the “underdog, the bully, the victim, the brat, the weird kid, the artsy kid, the drug addict, the alcoholic, and anyone else that society generally avoided” to its doors. We liked to think that mentality echoed down the alley. Ethos ricocheting off broken windows like noise music. Grandma would talk a lot about bodying the feeling of the Bowery. Prescribing like we too were in pain, cost-considered remedy, and unprejudiced empathetic care. With that headspace, the energy never wavered.

There was always some type of ecstatic love in the Bowery.