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. 
#359 The Magic of the Movie Theater
In celebration of 125 years of movie exhibition in New York City -- from vaudeville houses to movie palaces, from arthouses to multiplexes. In the spring of 1896 an invention called the Vitascope projected moving images onto a screen at a midtown vaudeville theater. The business of movies was born. By the late 1910s, the movies were big ... and the theaters were getting bigger! Thanks to creators like architect Thomas Lamb and impresario Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel, theaters in Times Square, New York's prime entertainment district, grew larger and more opulent.  Even by the 1940s, movie theaters were a mix of film and live acts -- singers, dancers, animal acrobats and even the drama of a Wurlitzer organ. But a major court case brought a change to American film exhibition and diversity to the screen -- both low brow (grind house) and high brow (foreign films and 'art' movies). Today's greatest arthouse cinemas trace their lineage back to the late 1960s/early 1970s and the new conception of movies as an art form.  Can these theaters survive the perennial villain of the movies (i.e. television) AND the current challenges of a pandemic? FEATURING: The origin story of all your favorite New York City movie theaters. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Apr 8
1 hr 3 min
#358 The Muppets Take Manhattan (Bowery Boys Movie Club)
TOGETHER AGAIN! In 1984, Jim Henson brought his world-famous Muppets to New York for a wacky musical comedy that satirized the gritty, jaded environment of 1980s Manhattan while providing fascinating views of some of its most glamorous landmarks. On this springtime episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, listen in as Greg and Tom recap the story and explore the many real New York City settings of the film — from the Empire State Building and Central Park to the corner booth at Sardi’s Restaurant and certain luncheonette in the area of today’s Hudson Square.  The Muppets Take Manhattan expresses an unfiltered enthusiasm for the promise of New York City at a time when national headlines were filled with tales of the city’s high crime and budget problems. Can Kermit and Miss Piggy (and their roster of guest stars like Art Carney and Joan Rivers) bring magic back to the Big Apple? To get BRAND NEW episodes of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, support the Bowery Boys Podcast on Patreon. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Apr 1
56 min
#357 Edith Wharton's New York
New York's upper class families of the late 19th century lived lives of old-money pursuits and rigid, self-maintained social restrictions -- from the opera boxes to the carriages, from the well-appointed parlors to the table settings. It was leisure without relaxation.  In this episode we examine the story of Edith Wharton -- the acclaimed American novelist who was born in New York City and raised inside this very Gilded Age social world that she would bring to life in her prose. She was a true "insider" of New York's wealthy class -- giving the reader an honest look at what it was like to live in the mansions of Fifth Avenue, to attend an elite dinner soiree featuring tableaux vivants and to carry forth an exhausting agenda of travels to Hudson River estates, grand Newport manors and gardened European villas. We can read her works today and enjoy them simply as wonderful fiction -- and incredible character studies -- but as lovers of New York City history, we can also read her New York-based works for these recreations of another era. Is it possible to glimpse a bit of Edith Wharton's New York in the modern city today? Tom and Greg are joined by Wharton lecturer and tour guide Carl Raymond, a historian who has traced her footsteps many times on the streets of New York (and through the halls of her country home The Mount in Lenox, MA.) Also: Join us on April 13, 2013 for a virtual celebration of Gilded Age dining, hosted by Carl, Greg and Tom.   Support the show: See for privacy information.
Mar 25
1 hr 11 min
#356 Pfizer: A Brooklyn Origin Story
The story of a true Brooklyn 'start up' -- Charles Pfizer and Co, who went from developing intestinal worm medication in 1849 to being a leader of COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution in the 21st century. The origin of Pfizer is one of German immigration in the mid 19th century and of early medical practices and concoctions that might seem alien to us today.  But this company's biography is also a celebration of Brooklyn — the City of Brooklyn in the mid 19th century, developing into an economic force in the United States and in opposition to the city of New York across the East River.  PLUS You can't tell the Pfizer story without looking at the world of apothecaries and early drug stores in New York City in the 19th century.  FEATURING Duane Reade, Keihl's, C.O. Bigelow, E. R. Squibb and Johnson & Johnson ALSO What important American figure today grew up delivering parcels for his family drugstore in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn? Support the show: See for privacy information.
Mar 18
30 min
#355 The Midnight Adventures of Doctor Parkhurst
Welcome to your tour of New York City nightlife in the 1890s, to a fantasia of debauchery, to a "saturnalia of crime," your journey to a life of delicious, amoral delights! Courtesy a private detective, a blond-headed naif nicknamed Sunbeam and -- a prominent Presbyterian minister. In this episode, we're going to Sin City, the New York underworld of the Gilded Age -- the saloons, dance halls, opium dens, prostitution houses and groggeries of Old New York. Depicted in the sensationalist media of the day as a sort of urban Hades, a hellish landscape of vice and debauchery.  So you might be surprised that our tour guide into this debauched landscape is the respected minister Dr. Charles Parkhurst of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church.  The point of Parkhurst's sacrilegious voyage was to expose police corruption and New York law enforcement’s willingness to look the other way at illegal behavior and decrepit social situations.  This two-week dive into New York’s most sinful establishments was meant to expose the hold of corrupt law enforcement over the powerless. But did it also expose the cravings and hypocrisy of its ringleader? What you may hear in this episode may genuinely shock you -- and change your opinion about New York City nightlife forever. FEATURING: Stale beer dives, tight houses, a most sinful game of leap frog and something called "the French Circus." Support the show: See for privacy information.
Mar 11
56 min
#354 Who Wrote the First American Cookbook?
One of America's most important books was published 225 years ago this year. You won't find it on a shelf of great American literature. It was not written by a great man of letters, but somebody who described herself simply as 'an American orphan.' In 1796 a mysterious woman named Amelia Simmons published American Cookery, the first compilation of recipes (or receipts) using such previously unknown items as corn, pumpkins and "pearl ash" (similar to baking powder). This book changed the direction of fine eating in the newly established United States of America. But Amelia herself remains an elusive creator. Who was this person who would have so much influence over the American diet? Join Greg through a tour of 70 years of early American eating, identifying the true melting pot of delicious flavors — Dutch, Native American, Spanish, Caribbean and African — that transformed early English colonial cooking into something uniquely American. FEATURING early American recipes for johnnycakes, slapjacks and gazpacho! Support the show: See for privacy information.
Mar 4
27 min
#353 Harlem Before the Renaissance
“If we were to offer a symbol of what Harlem has come to mean in a short span of twenty years, it would be another statue of liberty on the landward side of New York. Harlem represents the Negro’s latest thrust towards Democracy.” -- Alain Locke This is Part Two of our two-part look at the birth of Black Harlem, a look at the era BEFORE the 1920s, when the soul and spirit of this legendary neighborhood was just beginning to form.  The Harlem Renaissance is a cultural movement which describes the flowering of the arts and political thought which occurred mostly within the Black community of Harlem between 1920 and the 1940s. In particular the 1920s were described by writer Langston Hughes as “the period when the Negro was in vogue.” The moment when the white mainstream turned its attention to black culture.  But how Harlem become a mecca of Black culture and "the Capital of Black America"? This is the story of constructing a cultural movement on the streets of Upper Manhattan in the 1910s. From the stages of the Lafayette Theater to the soapboxes of Speakers Corner. From the pulpits to the salons (both hair and literary)! WITH stories of Marcus Garvey, Madam C.J. Walker, Arturo Schomburg and many more. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Feb 25
59 min
Rewind: Harlem Nights at the Hotel Theresa
The Hotel Theresa is considered a genuine (if under-appreciated) Harlem gem, both for its unique architecture and its special place in history as the hub for African-American life in the 1940s and 50s. The luxurious apartment hotel was built by a German lace manufacturer to cater to a wealthy white clientele. But almost as soon as the final brick was laid, Harlem itself changed, thanks to the arrival of thousands of new black residents from the South. Harlem, renown the world over for the artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance and its burgeoning music scene, was soon home to New York’s most thriving black community.  But many of the businesses here refused to serve black patrons, or at least certainly made them unwelcome. The Theresa changed its policy in 1940 and soon its lobby was filled with famous athletes, actresses and politicians, many choosing to live at the Hotel Theresa over other hotels in Manhattan.  The hotel’s relative small size made it an interesting concentration of America’s most renown black celebrities. In this podcast, Greg gives you a tour of this glamorous scene, from the corner bar to the penthouse, from the breakfast table of Joe Louis to the crazy parties of Dinah Washington. WITH: Martin Luther King Jr,Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Fidel Castro. And music by Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine and Duke Ellington ALSO: Who is this mysterious Theresa? What current Congressman was a former desk clerk? And what was Joe Louis’ favorite breakfast food? The first half of this show was originally released in 2013 (as Episode #158) but has been newly edited for this release. The second half of this show is ALL NEW. MUSIC FEATURED: "Sophisticated Lady" by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra and "Dedicated To You" by Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan.  Support the show: See for privacy information.
Feb 18
26 min
#352 The Birth of Black Harlem
How did Harlem become Harlem, the historic center of Black culture, politics and identity in American life? This is the story of revolutionary ideas -- and radical real estate. By the 1920s, Harlem had become the capital of Black America, where so many African-American thinkers, artists, writers, musicians and entrepreneurs would live and work that it would spawn -- a Harlem Renaissance. But in an era of so much institutional racism -- the oppression of Jim Crow, an ever-present reality in New York -- how did Black Harlem come to be? The story of Harlem begins more than three and a half centuries ago with the small Dutch village of Nieuw Haarlem (New Haarlem). During the late 19th century Harlem became the home of many different immigrant groups -- white immigrant groups, Irish and German, Italian and Eastern European Jews -- staking their claim of the American dream in newly developed housing here. But then an extraorindary shift occurs beginning in the first decade of the 20th century, a very specific set of circumstances that allowed, really for the very first time, African-American New Yorkers to stake out a piece of that same American dream for themselves. This is a story of real estate -- and realtors! But not just any realtor, but the story of the man who earned the nickname the Father of Harlem. Part one of a two-part show on the origins of Harlem. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Feb 11
53 min
#351 Auntie Mame (Bowery Boys Movie Club)
In the latest episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, Tom and Greg celebrate wild and fabulous Auntie Mame, the outrageous comedy masterpiece starring Rosalind Russell that’s mostly set on Beekman Place, the pocket enclave of New York wealth that transforms into a haven for oddballs and bohemian eccentrics. Auntie Mame cleverly uses historical events — the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression — as a backdrop to Mame’s own financial woes, and her progressive-minded care of nephew Patrick introduces some rather avant garde philosophies to movie-going audiences. Listen in as the Bowery Boys set up the film’s history, then give a rollicking synopsis through the zany plot line.  To listen to future episodes of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, support the Bowery Boys podcast on Patreon! For those who support us there already, check your emails or head over to your Patreon page for a new episode -- on the 1961 classic Breakfast At Tiffany's. Support the show: See for privacy information.
Feb 4
1 hr 19 min
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