The Sunshine Hotel
The Voicebox of Skid Row
In the first half of the century, the mile-long Bowery's bars, missions and cheap hotels (or flophouses) were home to an estimated 35,000 down-and-out men each night. Today, only a handful of flophouses, virtually unchanged for half a century, are all that remain of this once teeming world. For several months in 1998, David Isay and Stacy Abramson had unprecedented 24-hour access to The Sunshine Hotel, one of the last of the no-frills establishments. "It was like stepping into King Tut's Tomb," Isay says. "The Sunshine is this fascinating, self-contained society full of unbelievable characters. While it's a profoundly sad place, it is, at the same time, home to men with powerful and poetic stories."The Sunshine Hotel was awarded the Prix Italia, Europe's oldest and most prestigious broadcasting award, in 1999. According to Sound Portait Productions, this is an audio portrait of one of the final vestiges of the Bowery, New York's notorious skid row.