The Bowery Boys: New York City History
The Bowery Boys: New York City History
Bowery Boys Media
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The tides of American history lead through the streets of New York City — from the huddled masses on Ellis Island to the sleazy theaters of 1970s Times Square. The elevated railroad to the Underground Railroad. Hamilton to Hammerstein! Greg and Tom explore more than 400 years of action-packed stories, featuring both classic and forgotten figures who have shaped the world. 
#374 Gotham's Greatest Ghost Stories
What are the greatest ghost stories and haunted legends in New York City history? Since 2007 -- every October for fourteen years -- the Bowery Boys podcast has shared the city's most notorious and frightening ghost stories and urban legends. Over fifty-five stories and counting -- from malevolent wraiths who walk the avenues to strange spirits forever at home in some of New York's greatest landmarks. So for this 15th annual Bowery Boys Halloween ghost story podcast, Greg and Tom taking a look back at their favorites (and yours), the tales which have stayed with us -- which have possessed us -- like a persistent phantom who refuses to leave. Featuring: -- The Brooklyn poltergeist at the heart of an unsolved 19th century mystery -- A haunted Hell's Kitchen townhouse tormented by a ravenous spirit -- An historic tavern with a very famous, very randy ghost -- A famous apartment building with mysterious people who walk through walls AND Greg and Tom re-visit and re-tell their favorite ghost story from their very first podcast. Does Olive Thomas still haunt the New Amsterdam Theatre? Visit the website for a list of all the Bowery Boys ghost story podcasts and a map of all the haunted locations in the city.  Support the show: See for privacy information.
Oct 21
1 hr 11 min
#373 New York Underground: The Story of Cemeteries
The following podcast may look like the history of New York City cemeteries -- from the early churchyards of the Colonial era to the monument-filled rural cemeteries of Brooklyn and Queens. But it's much more than that! This is a story about New York City itself, a tale of real estate, urban growth, class and racial disparity, superstition and architecture. Cemeteries and burial grounds in New York City are everywhere -- although by design we often don’t see them or interact with them in daily life. You see them while strolling late night through the East Village or out your taxi window headed to LaGuardia Airport. Some of your favorite parks were even developed upon the sites of old potter’s fields. Why are there so many cemeteries on the border of the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens? Why are 19th century mausoleums and tombstones so fabulously ornate? And why are there so many old burial grounds next to tenements and apartment buildings in Greenwich Village?  Featuring four tales from New York City history, illustrating the unusual relationship between cemeteries and urban areas. -- The Doctor's Riot of 1788 -- The tragic monument of Charlotte Canda -- The shocking grave robbery of a prominent New Yorker -- The remarkable discovery in 1991 of a long-forgotten burial ground If you like the show, please rate and review on Apple Podcasts. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Oct 7
1 hr 2 min
#372 The Shuberts: The Brothers Who Built Broadway
There's no business like show business -- thanks to Lee, Sam and J.J. Shubert, the Syracuse brothers who forever changed the American theatrical business in the 20th century.  At last Broadway is back! And the marquees of New York's theater district are again glowing with the excitement of live entertainment.  And many of these theaters were built and operated by the Shubert Brothers, impresarios who helped shape the physical nature of the Broadway theater district itself, creating the close cluster of stages that give Times Square its energy and glamour.  In this show, we'll be visiting the dawn of Times Square itself and the evolution of the American musical -- from coy operettas and flirty song-filled revues filled with chorus girls.  The Shuberts were there almost from the beginning. After fending off their rivals (namely the Syndicate), the Shuberts centered their empire around an alleyway that would quickly take their name -- Shubert Alley. They were innovative and they were ruthless, generous and often cruel (especially to each other). During the 1950s and 60s, the Shubert empire almost crumbled -- only to rise again in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to A Chorus Line and some very musical felines. FEATURING A visit to the Shubert Archive above the Lyceum Theatre, a magical trove of historical items from the American stage. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Sep 23
1 hr 13 min
Rewind: Revolutionary Fire/The End of Nathan Hale
On the occasion of the 245th anniversary of the Revolutionary War in New York City, we revisit the story of the Great Fire of 1776, the drumbeat of war leading up to the disaster, and the tragic story of the American patriot Nathan Hale. This is a reedited, remastered version of an episode that we recorded in 2015. A little after midnight on September 21, 1776, the Fighting Cocks Tavern on Whitehall Street caught on fire. The drunken revelers inside the tavern were unable to stop the blaze, and it soon raged into a dangerous inferno, spreading up the west side of Manhattan. Some reports state that the fire started accidentally in the tavern fireplace. But was it actually set on purpose -- on the orders of George Washington? Meanwhile, underneath this sinister story is another, smaller drama -- that of a young man on a spy mission, sent by Washington into enemy territory. His name was Nathan Hale, and his fate would intersect with the disastrous events of that perilous night. PLUS: The legacy of St. Paul's Chapel, a lasting reminder not only of the Great Fire of 1776 but of an even greater disaster which occurred almost exactly 225 years later. If you like the show, please rate and review on Apple Podcasts. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Sep 16
47 min
#371 A Visit to Little Syria: An Immigrant Story
Just south of the World Trade Center district sits the location of a forgotten Manhattan immigrant community. Curious outsiders called it "Little Syria" although the residents themselves would have known it as the Syrian Colony. Starting in the 1880s people from the Middle East began arriving at New York's immigrant processing station -- immigrants from Greater Syria which at that time was a part of the Ottoman Empire.  The Syrians of Old New York were mostly Christians who brought their trades, culture and cuisine to the streets of lower Manhattan. And many headed over to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn as well, creating another district for Middle Eastern American culture which would outlast the older Manhattan area. Who were these Syrian immigrants who made their home here in New York? Why did they arrive? What were their lives like? And although Little Syria truly is long gone, what buildings remain of this extraordinary district? PLUS: A visit to Sahadi's, a fine food shop that anchors today's remaining Middle Eastern scene in Brooklyn. Greg and Tom head to their warehouse in Sunset Park to get some insight on the shop's historic connections to the first Syrian immigrants. Join the Bowery Boys Podcast on Patreon for extra audio features, access to cool merchandise and early access to tickets for live events.  Please considerwriting a review of our podcast on Apple Podcasts. Brand new reviews are useful in getting the show more visibility. We greatly appreciate it.     Support the show: See for privacy information.
Sep 9
1 hr 1 min
#370 Tragic Muse: The Life of Audrey Munson
By the time Audrey Munson turned 25 years old, she had became a muse for some of the most famous artists in America, the busiest artist’s model of her day, She was such a fixture of the Greenwich Village art world in the early 20th century that she was called the Venus of Washington Square, although by 1913 the press had given her a grander nickname — Miss Manhattan. Her face and figure adorned public sculpture and museum masterpieces. And they do to this day.  But just a few years after working with these great artists, Audrey Munson disappeared from the New York art world, caught up in a murder scandal that would unfairly ruin her reputation.  And on her 40th birthday she would be locked away forever. Join the Bowery Boys Podcast on Patreon for extra audio features, access to cool merchandise and early access to tickets for live events.  Please considerwriting a review of our podcast on Apple Podcasts. Brand new reviews are useful in getting the show more visibility. We greatly appreciate it.   Support the show: See for privacy information.
Aug 26
39 min
#369 Last Dance at the Hotel Pennsylvania
When it opened in 1919, the Hotel Pennsylvania was the largest hotel in the world. Over a hundred years later, its fate remains uncertain. Is it too big to save? After the Pennsylvania Railroad completed its colossal Pennsylvania Station in 1910, the railroad quickly realized it would need a companion hotel equal to the station's exquisite grandeur. And it would need an uncommonly ambitious hotelier to operate it. Enter E.M. Statler, the hotel king who made his name at American World's Fairs and brought sophisticated new ideas to this exceptional hotel geared towards middle-class and business travelers. But the Hotel Pennsylvania would have another claim to fame during the Swing Era. Its restaurants and ballrooms -- particularly the Café Rouge  -- would feature some of the greatest names of the Big Band Era. Glenn Miller played the Cafe Rouge many times at the height of his orchestra's fame. He was so associated with the hotel that one of his biggest hits is a tribute -- "Pennsylvania 6-5000." The hotel outlived the demolition of the original Penn Station, but it currently sits empty and faces imminent demolition thanks to an ambitious new plan to rehabilitate the neighborhood. What will be the fate of this landmark to music history? Is this truly the last dance for the Hotel Pennsylvania? Listen to the official Bowery Boys playlist inspired by this episode on Spotify. If you like the show, please subscribe and leave a rating on iTunes and other podcast services. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Aug 12
57 min
#368 Henry Bergh's Fight for Animal Rights in Gilded Age New York
Interview with Prof. Ernest Freeberg, author of “A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement” Today’s show is all about animals in 19th-century New York City. Of course, animals were an incredibly common sight on the streets, market halls, and factories during the Gilded Age, and many of us probably have a quaint image of horse-drawn carriages. But how often do we think about the actual work that those horses put in every day? The stress of pulling those private carriages -- or, much worse, pulling street trolleys, often overloaded with New Yorkers trying to get to work or home? In the book, “A Traitor to His Species”, author Ernest Freeberg tells the story of these animals -- and of their protector, Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). He ran the organization from the 1860s to the 1880s, and was a celebrity in his day -- widely covered, and widely mocked for his unflinching defense of the humane treatment of all animals, even the lowliest pesky birds or turtles. His story is full of surprising turns, and offers an inside account of the early fight for animal rights, and engrossing tales of Gilded Age New York from a new perspective -- the animal’s perspective! Ernest Freeberg is a distinguished professor of humanities and head of the history department at the University of Tennessee. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Jul 29
1 hr 3 min
#367 The Ice Craze: How the Ice Business Transformed New York
New York City on ice — a tribute to the forgotten industry which kept the city cool in the age before refrigeration and air conditioning. Believe it or not, ice used to be big business. In 1806 a Boston entrepreneur named Frederic Tudor cut blocks of ice from a pond on his family farm and shipped it to Martinique, a Caribbean county very unfamiliar with frozen water. He was roundly mocked — why would people want ice in areas where they can’t store it? — but the thirst for the frozen luxury soon caught on, especially in southern United States. New Yorkers really caught the ice craze in the 1830s thanks to an exceptionally clear lake near Nyack. Within two decades, shops and restaurants regularly ordered ice to serve and preserve foods. And with the invention of the icebox, people could even begin buying it up for home use. The ice business was so successful that — like oil and coal — it became a monopoly. Charles W. Morse and his American Ice Company controlled most of the ice in the northeast United States by the start of the 20th century. He was known as the Ice King. And he had one surprising secret friend — the Mayor of New York City Robert A. Van Wyck. PLUS: The 19th century technologies that allowed American to harvest and store ice. The Iceman cometh! Support the show: See for privacy information.
Jul 15
54 min
#366 North Brother Island: New York's Forbidden Place
There are two mysterious islands in the East River with a human population of zero. They are restricted. No human being lives there.  One of these islands has been witness to some of the most dire and dramatic moments in New York City history. North Brother Island sits near the tidal strait known as Hell Gate, a once-dangerous whirlpool which wrecked hundreds of ships and often deposited the wreckage on the island's quiet shore. In the 1880s the island was chosen as the new home for Riverside Hospital, a quarantine hospital for New Yorkers with smallpox, tuberculosis and many more contagious illnesses. Greg takes the reigns in this show and leads you through the following tales featuring North Brother Island: -- A bizarre incident -- involving a body found in the waters off the island -- which first put the place on the map; -- The nightmarish city policy of 'forced exile' to battle the spread of disease in the city's poorest quarters; -- The tragic crash of the General Slocum steamship; -- The complicated struggles of Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary; -- The implausible tale of a 1950s rehab center for teenage drug addicts. Visit the website for images and videos of North Brother Island.   Support the show: See for privacy information.
Jul 1
41 min
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