The Bowery – SRO ~ 1980

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“Single Resident Occupancy” or SRO, the long-standing New York term for the bottom of the social pecking order. Better than the exhaust vents over the IRT though. This one was on the Bowery. I believe it was turned into a hostel around 2000. The “rooms” were about 7 feet wide and 8-9 feet long, open at the top with chicken wire over. They seem to have been built in old factories. You could hear every cough, conversation and fart until sleep blissfully claimed you. Old men talking in their sleep, the grumbling midnight trips to the pissoir (dangerous), the 2 a.m. smokers. You had to be out by 10 a.m., out on the sticky stinking street.

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