New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Birthplace of Modern Tattooing!
11 Chatham Square
—16 Bowery —
As a stomping ground for sailors and sporting men, the Bowery/Chatham Square was an appropriate location for Samuel O’Reilly and Charlie Wagner, the fathers of modern tattooing. O’Reilly, who patented the first electric tattooing machine in 1891, made a name for himself at 11 Chatham Square, as did his student Wagner, who took over when O’Reilly died in 1908. Known as the “Michelangelo of Tattoo,” he patented his own tattoo machine in 1904 featuring the same alignment many machines use today. Wagner also rented a space at 208 and 223 Bowery, but worked 11 Chatham Square until his death in 1953.
Other Bowery tattoo artists, some Wagner protégés, included Willie Moscowitz & Al Neville (4,12 Bowery), Lame Leroy (15 Bowery), Apache Harry (22 Bowery), and Moskowitz’s sons, Stanley and Walter (52 Bowery). The most unique was Mildred Hull, “New York’s only lady tattooist.” Raised on the Bowery, Millie was an exotic circus dancer when Wagner started tattooing her and taught her his craft. Her Tattoo Emporium opened in 1939 inside a barber shop at 16 Bowery.
Tattooers worked the Bowery until NYC banned tattooing
- Michelle Myles, Tattoo Museum, 141 Division Street
Erected 2016 by Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.
Location. 40° 42.873′ N, 73° 59.843′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is on Bowery near Pell Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 16 Bowery, New York, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. NYC’s Oldest Brick House (here, next to this marker); Gateway to Old Chinatown (within shouting distance of this marker); Barnum's First Big Bamboozle (within shouting distance of this marker); Stephen Foster (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); High and Low Art (about 300 feet away); The Bowery Boys (about 400 feet away); Roll of Honor (about 400 feet away); Padre Felix Varela Morales (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
More about this marker. One of more than sixty entries in the “Windows on the Bowery” series.
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2019. This page originally submitted on April 10, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 47 times since then. Last updated on April 17, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 10, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 7, 8, 9. submitted on April 14, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.