Learn some more about the history of some of the buildings still standing on the Bowery here, at the Forgotten NY website.
While scrolling though its contents I was reminded of the mystery that is (was) 190 Bowery.
I had the pleasure of getting a tour of 190 Bowery along with a group of Cooper Union students (photographer Jay Maisel's studio/home) in the early 2000's. We saw his studio/office spaces, which were still fairly intact in terms of what the place was like when it was a bank (the vault in the basement, large conference room with big wooden table, the wooden stairs up to the offices, the mosaic bank lobby floor). A large portion of the second floor was a gallery space for his work, and some shooting studios. I remember in the early 90's we used to walk from the LES to the fleamarket at Grand + Broadway on weekends, and speculate what was going on in that building. It was amazing to go inside, but sad in some ways because all the mystery has been removed from it for me.
For better or worse, I will now demystify it for you (not that its hard at all to find info about it these days). Here is a NYMag article and slideshow from 2008.
Photo: Leigh Davis via NYMag.com