At the age of 14 Tony Polito got his first tattoo. That was back in 1959, and it was true love ever since. That same year Polito began working as a tattoo artist himself, mainly serving sailors in such rough neighborhoods as Coney Island and the Bowery, where the majority of tattoo parlors were located.
Just two years later, in 1961, tattooing became an illegal endeavor in New York City due to an outbreak of hepatitis. While most tattoo artist just left town to work in other cities in New York State, Polito stayed behind in the city, working in his basement or other hidden spaces.
“For a couple of years I was the only one in town" he remembers. He had as many as 50 to 80 clients per day. They mostly wanted their tattoos done "fast and cheap."
The ban on tattoo parlors in the city was finally lifted in 1997, and fancy tattoo parlors opened up all over the Village. Today tattooing is gentrified to a certain extent, in contrast to the way Polito, who is still working at age 77, describes the past:
"In the 60s it was rough, you had to know your karate," Tony says.
If you’re walking down the Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side this week, you may notice something different on the facade of the New Museum. A 28-foot tall steel, aluminum and lacquer rose now stands on the museum’s ledge where Ugo Rondinone’s Hell, Yes! rainbow used to be.
German Post-war Contemporary sculptor Isa Genzken created Rose II, her first piece of public art to be installed in the United States. It was installed on Saturday and will remain on view through 2011. (Genzken made her first Rose in 1993.)
Rondinone’s Hell, Yes! was put up on the facade of the New Museum in December 2007 to celebrate the contemporary museum’s first freestanding building on the Bowery.
The Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel, located in downtown New York City, has received the Best Western Chairwoman’s Award, the chain’s highest honor for outstanding quality standards. The Chairwoman’s Award recognizes Best Western International hotels with a cleanliness and maintenance inspection score of 988 points out of a possible 1,000, placing the hotel in the top five percent of all 2,400 Best Western hotels. The hotel also had to meet Best Western’s requirements for design and high customer satisfaction scores in order to qualify.
“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor,” said General Manager Raymond Sun. “The Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel is committed to providing quality accommodations and service for our guests. Our staff has worked very hard to achieve this level of excellence and we are delighted to receive this important symbol of distinction from Best Western.”
The Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel is located at 231 Grand Street in the heart of downtown New York City. Built in 2008, the hotel is ideally situated between Chinatown and Little Italy in Lower Manhattan, surrounded by some of the most vibrant New York City neighborhoods such as Tribeca, Soho and the Lower East Side. Abundant subway access is a few blocks from the hotel. City Hall, Battery Park, Trinity Church and PACE University are within walking distance. All 102 guestrooms feature a modern, comfortable design with 32-inch flat panel TVs and high-speed Internet access. The 100% non-smoking hotel also offers complimentary continental breakfast, Wi-Fi in the lobby, and a fitness center. The Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel is operated by Interstate Hotels & Resorts, the nation’s largest independent hotel management company. For more information about the Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel in New York City, visit www.bw-boweryhanbeehotel.com.