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October 17, 2019
Welcome to the unlucky 13th Annual Bowery Boys ghost stories podcast, where history combines with folklore for a bone-chilling listening experience.
October 4, 2019
The Bowery Boys examine the life of Andrew Haswell Green, the most important forgotten New Yorker of the 19th century.
September 19, 2019
Part Two of our Brooklyn Heights history series -- focusing on the big changes and challenges it faced in the 20th century, from the BQE and Promenade to its historic preservation.
September 5, 2019
This is the first of a two-part celebration of the history of Brooklyn Heights, a picturesque neighborhood of architectural wonder.
August 23, 2019
In this episode we discuss Dr. David Hosack’s incredible life in science and botany with Victoria Johnson, author of the 2018 book, “American Eden, David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic.”
August 19, 2019
Check out Mob Queens, a new podcast from Stitcher! Mob stories are always all about the guys. But not this one. Anna Genovese is a New York drag club maven and bad-ass mob wife. Hollywood besties Jessica Bendinger (writer, Bring It On) and Michael Seligman (writer, RuPaul’s Drag Race) are obsessed. They piece together Anna's story, racing between speakeasies, mob informants and former drag queens. But will their heroine's secrets unlock more than they want to know about Anna... and themselves? Mob Queens is out NOW - listen wherever you get your podcasts.
August 9, 2019
In this fragrant episode, we chart the course to a safer, healthier city thanks to the men and women of the New York City Department of Sanitation, which was formed in the 1880s to combat a challenging humanitarian crisis.
July 25, 2019
A history of the bold Progressive Era women who saved the lives of thousands of people in need -- from the Lower East Side to Washington Heights, from Hell's Kitchen to Fort Greene.
July 11, 2019
A former newsboy named Steve Brodie grabs the country's attention by leaping off the Brooklyn Bridge on July 23, 1886. Or did he?
June 28, 2019
In this episode, we look at four specific historic landmarks of Upper Manhattan, places that have survived into present day, even as their surroundings have become greatly altered.
June 13, 2019
In 1966, three years before the Stonewall Riots, a group of activists challenged New York's anti-gay bar policies in an unusual demonstration at a West Village bar.
May 31, 2019
The Bowery Boys explore the dark history of the Tombs, New York's most infamous prison, which was located where the Five Points met City Hall.
May 16, 2019
The most iconic New York City foods -- bagels, pizza, hot dogs -- are portable, adaptable and closely associated with the city's history through its immigrant communities. In the case of the bagel, that story takes us to the Polish immigrants who brought their religion, language and eating customs to the Lower East Side starting in the 1870s. During the late 19th century, millions of bagels were created in tiny bake shops along Hester and Rivington Streets, specifically for the neighborhood's Jewish community. We start there and end up in the modern day with frozen supermarket bagels, pizza bagels, bagel breakfast sandwiches, bagel bites. BAGELS SLICED ST. LOUIS STYLE?! How did this simple food from 17th century Poland become a beloved American breakfast staples? It starts with a bagel revolution! Poor conditions in the bakeries inspired a worker's movement and the formation of a union that standardized the ways in which bagels were made. By the mid 20th century, modern technology allowed for bagels to be made cheaply and shipped all over the world. But the 'real' way to make a bagel is to hand roll it. In this episode, we speak to Melanie Frost of Ess-a-Bagel for some insight into the pleasures of the true New York City bagel.  boweryboyshistory.com
May 2, 2019
In 1849, a theatrical rivalry between two leading actors of the day sparked a chaotic night of violence — one of the most horrible moments in New York City history.
April 19, 2019
Today we visit the World's Fair of 1939-1940, held in today's Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, a fair that promised New Yorkers the "World of Tomorrow".
April 4, 2019
The history of Greenwich Village in the 1960s -- in honor of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Greenwich Village Historic District in April of 1969.
March 22, 2019
What's under Hudson Yards? We explore the fascinating story that lies beneath the city's newest development.
March 8, 2019
The Tweed Courthouse is more than a mere landmark. Once called the New York County Courthouse, the Courthouse better known for many traits that the concepts of law and order normally detest -- greed, bribery, kickbacks and graft.
February 23, 2019
Today we examine the mysterious and overlooked decade that Scott Joplin, the "King of Ragtime", spent in New York -- and how he could have died forgotten by the public.
February 8, 2019
The Bowery Boys explore the history of Walt Whitman in New York and Brooklyn, presented live at the Bell House, with special guests.
January 31, 2019
The Bowery Boys take a trip to Times Square in the 1970s (not to mention Columbus Circle, the East Village and even Cadman Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn) in Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Taxi Driver.
January 25, 2019
Greg and Tom tell the fascinating and often overlooked history of Downtown Brooklyn.
January 10, 2019
The strange story of the Collyer Brothers, two hermits who retreated from the world inside their dilapidated Harlem mansion.
December 27, 2018
The ultimate history of New Year's celebrations in New York City.
December 14, 2018
Newark Liberty International Airport or LaGuardia Airport? Which do you prefer? (Or is the answer -- none of the above. Give me JFK!) Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy history! In this episode, we present the origin stories of New York City's airports and airfields. The skies over New York have been graced with aircraft for almost 110 years. In fact the first 'flying machine' was flown by no less than Wilbur Wright, the man who (with his brother Orville) invented the airplane. Yet by the time the U.S. government began regulating the skies in the 1920s -- making way for commercial aviation -- the city had failed to develop an adequate airfield of its own. Meanwhile the thriving city of Newark, New Jersey, had just opened a glistening new airport, and in 1929 it was awarded the government's coveted airmail contract. Brooklyn's new Floyd Bennett Field didn't stand a chance because of it. This did not sit well with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia who engineered a spectacular tarmac stunt in 1934, drawing attention to this deficiency. And then he began dreaming of a new airport in northern Queens, one poised to draw customers away from New Jersey. And thus began a decades-long tug-of-war for supremacy over New York City skies. boweryboyshistory.com CORRECTION: Near the end of this show, Greg says that 18 new gates have opened this month at LaGuardia Airport. It’s actually 11 gates in a concourse that will eventually have 18.
November 30, 2018
The hilarious history of New York's comedy scene -- from vaudeville to film, radio, TV and comedy clubs.
November 16, 2018
The murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell was the most talked-about and scandalous event of 1857 -- who could have done such a violent act, and in his own home on Bond Street in Manhattan?
November 1, 2018
The history of Tin Pan Alley, the birthplace of the American popular music industry, and the latest efforts to protect this unlandmarked district from the wrecking ball.
October 19, 2018
The Manhattan neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen has a mysterious, troubling past. So what happens when you throw a few ghosts into the mix? Greg and Tom find out the hard way in this year's ghost stories podcast, featuring tales of mystery and mayhem situated in the townhouses, courtyards and taverns of this trendy area of Midtown West. This years Ghost Stories of Old New York show features: -- The troubling tale of a 1970s motion picture classic that may have left a sinister mark on West 54th Street -- The haunted home of a popular film and TV actress, possessed with a very hungry ghost -- An enchanting courtyard layered with several horrifying ghost stories -- And the shenanigans at a 150 year old tavern where the beer and the spirits flow freely.
October 5, 2018
There would be no New York City without Peter Stuyvesant, the stern, autocratic director-general of New Amsterdam, the Dutch port town that predates the Big Apple. The willpower of this complicated leader took an endangered ramshackle settlement and transformed it into a functioning city. But Mr. Stuyvesant was no angel. In part two in the Bowery Boys' look into the history of New Amsterdam, we launch into the tale of Stuyvesant from the moment he steps foot (or peg leg, as it were) onto the shores of Manhattan in 1647. Stuyvesant immediately set to work reforming the government, cleaning up New Amsterdam's filth and even planning new streets. He authorized the construction of a new market, a commercial canal and a defense wall -- on the spot of today's Wall Street. But Peter would act very un-Dutch-like in his intolerance of varied religious beliefs, and the institution of slavery would flourish in New Amsterdam under his direction. And yet the story of New York City's Dutch roots does not end with the city's occupation by the English in 1664 -- or even in 1672 (when the city was briefly retaken by a Dutch fleet). The Dutch spirit remained alive in the New York countryside, becoming part of regional customs and dialect. And yet the story of New Amsterdam might otherwise be ignored if not for a determined group of translators who began work on a critical project in the 1970s......
September 20, 2018
We are turning back the clock to the very beginning of New York City history with this special two-part episode, looking at the very beginnings of European settlement in the area and the first significant Dutch presence on the island known as Manhattan. The Dutch were drawn to the New World not because of its beauty, but because of its beavers. Beaver pelts were all the rage in European fashion, and European explorers like Henry Hudson reported back that this unexplored land was filled with the animals and their beautiful coats. Of course, people were already living here -- the tribes of the Lenape -- and the first settlers sent by the Dutch -- French-speaking Walloons -- encountered them in the mid 1620s. But relations were relatively good between the two parties at the beginning. Could the native Munsee-speaking people and the first Dutch settlers get along? In this episode, we walk you through the first two decades of life in the settlement of New Amsterdam, confined to the southern tip of Manhattan. What was the island like back then? How did people live and work in a region so entirely unknown to its European inhabitants? boweryboyshistory.com
September 7, 2018
The classic diner is as American as the apple pie it serves, but the New York diner is a special experience all its own, an essential facet of everyday life in the big city. They range in all shapes and sizes -- from the epic, stand-alone Empire Diner to tiny luncheonettes and lunch counters, serving up fried eggs and corned beef. In this episode, the Bowery Boys trace the history of the New York diner experience, a history of having lunch in an ever-changing metropolis. There were no New York restaurants per se before Delmonico's in 1827, although workers on-the-go frequented oyster saloons and bought from street vendors and markets. Cellar establishments like Buttercake Dick's served rudimentary sustenance, and men often ate food provided by bars. But once women entered the public sphere -- as workers and shoppers -- eating houses had to evolve to accommodate them. And thus was born the luncheonette, mini-lunch spaces in drug stores and candy shops. Soon prefabricated structures known as diners -- many made in New Jersey -- moved into vacant lots, streamlining the cheap eating experience. Cafeterias appealed to New Yorkers looking for cleanliness, and those looking for an inexpensive, solitary meal turned to one unusual restaurant -- the automat. Horn & Hardarts' innovative eateries -- requiring a handful of nickels -- were regular features on the New York City streetscape.  How did all these different types of eating experiences culminate in the modern New York diner-counter experience? For that, you can thank the Greeks.
August 23, 2018
In peeling back the many layers to Riverside Park, upper Manhattan's premier ribbon park, running along the west side from the Upper West Side to Washington Heights, you will find a wealth of history that takes you back to Manhattan's most rugged days. The windswept bluffs overlooking the Hudson River were home to only desolate mansions and farmhouses, its rock outcroppings appealing to tortured poets such as Edgar Allan Poe. But the railroad cleaved the peace when it laid its tracks along the waterfront in the 1840s. To encourage development, the city planned Riverside Park as a respite with commanding views of the river and a swanky carriage way for afternoon excursions. But the original plan by Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted only went so far -- right up to those pesky train tracks. In the 20th century, residents along the newly chic Riverside Drive tired of the smoky mess. It would take the 'master builder' himself -- Robert Moses -- to finally conceal those tracks and create a new spot for recreational facilities. In doing so, he threaded his new park with a new noisemaker -- the Henry Hudson Parkway.  We give you the grand overview history of this extraordinary park THEN we visit the park itself to give you the full dynamic sound experience, reviewing Riverside's most spectacular attractions.  PLUS: The strange story of two great monuments at 125th Street, the final resting place for a great military leader and a five year old boy, whose tragic story has inspired generations of poets. FEATURING: George and Ira Gershwin, Charles Schwab, Joan of Arc, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (in non political capacities!) boweryboyshistory.com
August 9, 2018
Harry Houdini became one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century, a showman whose escape artistry added a new dimension to the tried-and-true craft of stage magic. In this show, we present not only a mini-biography on the daredevil wizard, but a survey of the environment which made him -- a city of magic, mediums and mystery. New York during the late 19th century was a place of real, practical magic -- electric lights, elevated trains, telephones and other wonders that would have seemed impossible just a few decades before. Those that performed stage magic in a world of such unbelievable inventions would need to up their game. The great names of European stage magic -- most notably Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin -- would give rise to spectacular performances on both vaudeville and legitimate stages. Performers like Howard Thurston would dazzle New York crowds with unbelievable demonstrations of levitation while Harry Kellar and his 'spirit cabinet' would seem to use sorcery from other worlds. Houdini got his start in New York's dime museums, evolving from simple card tricks to elaborate routines of escape. He was a truly modern performer, borrowing from the magic masters and benefiting from an eager public, looking for a virtual superhero. But stage magic had a surprising foe -- actual magic or, as practiced by hundreds of mediums and mystics, spiritualism. Suddenly, the craft of magical illusion seemed secondary to those who could practice those same arts via a connection with the afterlife. Houdini was drawn into the debate early in his career, and the conflict intensified with his unusual friendship with one of the greatest writers in the world -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
July 26, 2018
New Yorkers threw a wild, exuberant celebration in the summer of 1858 in honor of 'the eighth wonder of the world', a technological achievement that linked North America and Europe by way of an underwater cable which sat on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The transatlantic cable was set to link the telegraph systems of the United Kingdom with those in the United States and Canada, and New Yorkers were understandably excited. Peter Cooper, one of the city's wealthiest men, was attached to the ambitious project as a member of the 'Cable Cabinet', as was Samuel Morse, the brilliant inventor who helped to innovate the telegraph. But it was an ambitious young New Yorker -- a successful paper manufacturer named Cyrus West Field -- who devised the endeavor from the comfort of his luxurious Gramercy Park townhouse. New Yorkers had so much to celebrate; a link with Europe would bring the world closer together, enrich the financiers of Wall Street and raise the city's international profile. The city partied so relentlessly that New York City Hall was almost destroyed in a frenzy of fireworks. But had everybody started celebrating too early? Was the Atlantic Cable -- fated to change the world -- actually a terrible failure? PLUS: A visit to beautiful Newfoundland and the origin of the journalism slang "scoop"! boweryboyshistory.com
July 13, 2018
Today we're joined by Fran Leadon, the author of a new history of Broadway, called “Broadway: A History of New York in 13 Miles”. We've discussed Broadway, the street, in just about every show we’ve done -- as so many of the city’s key events have taken place along Broadway or near it. And that’s also the point of Fran’s book -- by telling the story of a street, you’re actually telling the story of the entire city. On today’s show, we’ll be discussing how Broadway moved north -- literally, how did it expand, overcoming natural obstacles and merging with… or avoiding... old, pre-existing roads, and how did it take such an unusual route? And perhaps most surprisingly, how did Broadway survive the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 which imposed a rigid street grid on the city? You’re in for a couple of surprises. www.boweryboyshistory.com
June 29, 2018
What was life like in New York City from the summer of 1776 to the fall of 1783 -- the years of British occupation during the Revolutionary War? New York plays a very intriguing role in the story of American independence. The city and the surrounding area were successfully taken by the British by the end of 1776 -- George Washington and the Continental Army forced to escape for the good of the cause -- and the port city became the central base for British operations during the conflict. While British officers dined and enjoy a newly revitalized theater scene, Washington's spies on the streets of New York collected valuable intelligence. As thousands of soldiers and sympathizing Loyalists arrived in the city, hunger and overcrowding put the residents of the city in peril. When the sugar houses and churches became too filled with captured rebels, the British employed prison ships along the Brooklyn waterfront to hold their enemies. This is a very, very special episode, a newly edited combination of two older shows from our back catalog. PLUS several minutes of new material, featuring stories that we overlooked the first time. boweryboyshistory.com
June 15, 2018
Television audiences are currently obsessed with shows like RuPaul's Drag Race and FX's Pose, presenting different angles on the profession and art of drag. New York City has been crucial to its current moment in pop culture and people have been performing and enjoy drag performers in this city for over 120 years. In the beginning there were two styles of drag -- vaudeville and ballroom. As female impersonators filled Broadway theaters -- one theater is even named for a famed gender illusionist -- thrill seekers were heading to the balls of Greenwich Village and Harlem. By the 1930s, the gay scene began retreating into the shadows, governed by mob control and harshly policed. By design, drag became political. It also became a huge counter-cultural influence in the late 1960s -- from the glamour of Andy Warhol's superstars to the jubilant schtick of Charles Busch. But it was the 1980s that brought the most significant influences to our current pop cultural moment. Joining Greg on this show are two experts on two late 80s/early 90s scenes -- Felix Rodriguez, a videographer of the ballroom culture (made famous by the film Paris Is Burning) and Linda Simpson, one of the great queens of East Village drag. FEATURING: Drag kings! Wigstock! And the famous drag queen who got struck by lightning.
June 1, 2018
The Coney Island Boardwalk -- officially the Riegelmann Boardwalk -- just became an official New York City scenic landmark, and to celebrate, the Bowery Boys are headed to Brooklyn's amusement capital to toast its most famous and long-lasting icons. Recorded live on location, this week's show features the backstories of these Coney Island classics: -- The Wonder Wheel, the graceful, eccentric Ferris wheel preparing to celebrate for its 100th year of operation; -- The Spook-o-Rama, a dark ride full of old-school thrills; -- The Cyclone, perhaps America's most famous roller-coaster with a history that harkens back to Coney Island's wild coaster craze; -- Nathan's Famous, the king of hot dogs which has fed millions from the same corner for over a century; -- Coney Island Terminal, a critical transportation hub that ushered in the amusement area's famous nickname -- the Nickel Empire PLUS: An interview with Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island and founder of Coney Island USA, who recounts the origin of the Mermaid Parade and the Sideshow by the Seashore boweryboyshistory.com EXTRA: Supporters of the Bowery Boys on Patreon will receive an extra bonus clip discussing two other Coney Island landmarks -- Childs Restaurant and the Parachute Jump.
May 18, 2018
The Robins. The Bridegrooms. The Superbas. The Dizziness Boys. Dem Bums. The Boys of Summer. Whatever you call them, they will always be known in the hearts of New Yorkers as the Brooklyn Dodgers, the legendary baseball team that almost literally defined the spirit of Brooklyn in the early and mid 20th century. Equally as heralded is their former home Ebbets Field, a tiny stadium east of Prospect Park that saw several spectacular moments in sports history. This tiny but mighty field was also witness to many heart-breaking events for the Dodgers' unique die-hard fans. In this show, we review Dodgers history from the perspective of the team's fans and the surrounding neighborhood. This episode features recollections from Brooklynites who grew up around Ebbets Field, a sampling of stories from the Brooklyn Historical Society Oral History Collection. What was it like to grow up just a couple blocks from Ebbets Field? What makes Dodgers fans particularly unique in the world of sports? And what were the unfortunate series of events that led to the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn forever? FEATURING: Jackie Robinson, Robert Moses, Branch Rickey, Leo Durocher and a wild lady named Hilda Chester, armed with her vicious cowbell.
May 4, 2018
The Bowery Boys have finally made to one of the most enigmatic and miraculous houses of worship in America – the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. This Episcopal cathedral has a story like no other and a collection of eccentric artifacts and allegorical sculpture – both ancient and contemporary – that continues to marvel and confound.  Located in Morningside Heights in Upper Manhattan, St. John the Divine – named for the Apostle and author of the Book of Revelations -- is no ordinary cathedral (if such a thing exists). Every corner seems to vibrate on a different frequency from other Christian churches. Many ideas have gone into creating St. John the Divine’s unique personality – a quirky mix of architectural styles, some outside-the-box ideas about community outreach, its embrace of the unconventional. But one particularly striking detail sets it apart from the rest: the Cathedral remains unfinished.   FEATURING: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Keith Haring, Duke Ellington, Martin Luther King Jr. and the high-wire antics of Philippe Petit.   ALSO: Tom and Greg explore the Cathedral -- from the crypt to the rooftop – with tour guide Bill Schneberger.  boweryboyshistory.com VISIT THE WEBSITE FOR SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE CATHEDRAL's 125TH BIRTHDAY PARTY -- FEATURING THE BOWERY BOYS
April 20, 2018
The words of the The New Colossus, written 135 years ago by Jewish writer Emma Lazarus in tribute to the Statue of Liberty, have never been more relevant -- or as hotly debated -- as they are today. What do these words mean to you? "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." In this episode, Tom and Greg look at the backstory of these verses -- considered sacred by many -- and the woman who created them. Emma Lazarus was an exceptional writer and a unique personality who embraced her Jewish heritage even while befriending some of the greatest writers of the 19th century. When the French decided to bestow the gift of Liberty Enlightening the World to the United States, many Americans were uninterested in donating money to its installation in New York Harbor. Lazarus was convinced to write a poem about the statue but she decided to infuse her own meaning into it.  This icon of republican government -- and friendship between France and America -- would soon come to mean safe harbor and welcome to millions of new immigrants coming to America. But are Lazarus' words still relevant in the 21st century? boweryboyshistory.com
April 6, 2018
In this episode of the Bowery Boys, Greg digs into the back story of one of the most famous documentaries ever made – Grey Gardens. The film, made by brother directing team Albert and David Maysles, looks at the lives of two former society women leading a life of seclusion in a rundown old mansion in the Hamptons. Those of you who have seen the film – or the Broadway musical or the HBO film inspired by the documentary – know that it possesses a strange, timeless quality. Mrs Edith Bouvier Beale (aka Big Edie) and her daughter Miss Edith Bouvier Beale (aka Little Edie) live in a pocket universe, in deteriorating circumstances, but they themselves remain poised, witty, well read. But if our histories truly make us who we are, then to understand these two extraordinary and eccentric women, we need to understand the historical moments that put them on this path. And that is a story of New York City – of debutante balls, Fifth Avenue, Tin Pan Alley and the changing roles of women. And it’s a story of the Bouviers, who represent here the hundreds of wealthy, upwardly mobile families, trying to maintain their status in a fluctuating world of social registers and stock market crashes. This is story about keeping up appearances and the consequences of following your heart. FEATURING: A very special guest! The Marble Faun himself -- Jerry Torre, who swings by the show to share his recollection of these fascinating women. boweryboyshistory.com
March 23, 2018
Sure, the Brooklyn Bridge gets all the praise, but New York City's second bridge over the East River has an exceptional story of its own. In this episode, we'll answer some interesting questions, including: -- Why is the bridge named for a 19th century industrial neighborhood in Brooklyn and why is it not, for instance, called the Manhattan Bridge (a name not in use yet in 1903) or the East River Bridge (which was its original name)? -- Why did everybody think the bridge looked so unusually ugly and how did the city belatedly try and solve the problem? -- Why did one population in the Lower East Side find the bridge more important than others? -- Why was the bridge is such terrible shape in the 20th century? Did it really almost collapse into the river? -- And where can you find the original name of the Brooklyn neighborhood -- Williamsburgh? PLUS: How the fate of the two neighborhoods linked by the Williamsburg Bridge would change radically in 115 years boweryboyshistory.com We'd like to thank WeWork for sponsoring the Bowery Boys as well as our additional sponsors Hulu (and the gripping new thriller The Looming Tower) and Audible. For a free 30-day trial (and a free audiobook) go to audible.com/bowery or text BOWERY to 500-500
March 16, 2018
TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal) is a breathtaking neighborhood of astounding architectural richness. But how much do you know about this trendy destination and its patchwork of different histories? You'll be surprised to learn about the many facets of this unusual place, including: -- Lispenard's Meadow, tracing back to the property's first Dutch settlers; -- St. John's Park, New York's first ritzy residential district;  -- Washington Market, the open-air marvel that fed New Yorkers for 150 years; -- the Ghostbusters Fire House, a pop-culture landmark that witnessed an astonishing architectural shrinkage; -- the AT & T Long Lines Building, an imposing monolith with mysterious secrets contained inside; and the TriBeCa Film Center, bringing a new direction to the neighborhood thanks to its co-founder Robert De Niro PLUS: What are codfish cheeks? Pert nurses? Weekend leathers?
March 7, 2018
This year marks the 130th anniversary of one of the worst storms to ever wreak havoc upon New York City, the now-legendary mix of wind and snow called the Great Blizzard of 1888. The battering snow-hurricane of 1888, with its freezing temperatures and crazy drifts three stories high, was made worse by the condition of New York’s transportation and communication systems, all completely unprepared for 36 hours of continual snow. The storm struck on Monday, March 11, 1888, but many thousands attempted to make their way to work anyway, not knowing how severe the storm would be. It would be the worst commute in New York City history. Fallen telephone and telegraph poles became a hidden threat under the quickly accumulating drifts. Elevated trains were frozen in place, their passengers unable to get out for hours. Many died simply trying to make their way back home on foot, including Roscoe Conkling, a power broker of New York’s Republican Party. But there were moments of amusement too. Saloons thrived, and actors trudged through to the snow in time for their performances, And for P.T. Barnum, the show must always go on! This is a re-release of a show we recorded back in 2013. We think the comparisons to Hurricane Sandy that were made in that show feel even more relevant today.
March 2, 2018
Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO) is, we think, a rather drab name for a historically significant place in Brooklyn where some of the daily habits of everyday Americans were invented.  This industrial area between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges traces its story to the birth of Brooklyn itself, to the vital ferry service that linked the first residents to the marketplaces of New York. Two early (lesser) Founding Fathers even attempted to build a utopian society here called Olympia. Instead the coastline's fate would turn to industrial and shipping concerns. Its waterfront was lined with brick warehouses, so impressive and uniform that Brooklyn received the nickname "the Walled City". The industries based directly behind the warehouses were equally as important to the American economy. Most of their factories comprise the architecture of today's DUMBO, grand industrial fortresses of brick and concrete, towering above cobbled streets etched with railroad tracks. The cardboard-box titan Robert Gair was so dominant in this region that his many buildings were collectively referred to as Gairville. But coffee and tea traditions also came here -- not just the manufacture, but the revolutionary ways in which people with buy and drink those beverages. How did this early New York manufacturing district become a modern American tech hub, with luxury loft apartments and splendid coffee shops? This story of repurpose and gentrification is very different from those told in other neighborhoods. PLUS: And, no, really, what is up with that name?
February 23, 2018
The survival of New York City's greatest train station is no accident. The preservation of Grand Central Terminal helped create the protections for all of America's greatest landmarks.  By the 1950s, this glorious piece of architecture -- opened in 1913 as a sensational example of Beaux-Arts architecture -- was severely unloved and truly run down. It was also in danger. Long distance railroad travel was no longer fashionable and its real estate seemed better suited for a trendier skyscraper. With the destruction of Penn Station in the mid-1960s, it seemed Grand Central was next. Let's make room for progress! So how did it manage to survive? In this episode, we welcome our special guest Kent Barwick, the former executive director of the Municipal Art Society, who was there, in the middle of the fight to save Grand Central. He joins us to talk about the preservation battle and the importance of one particular ally -- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It certainly took thousands of people -- idealists, activists and regular New Yorkers -- to save this iconic building. But how did this one woman of great renown and prominence bring her personal history into the building, all in earnest efforts to save it?  boweryboyshistory.com
February 16, 2018
The original Penn Station, constructed in 1910 and designed by New York's greatest Gilded Age architectural firm, was more than just a building. Since its destruction in the 1960s, the station has become something mythic, a sacrificial lamb to the cause of historic preservation. Amplifying its loss is the condition of present Penn Station, a fairly unpleasant underground space that uses the original Pennsylvania Railroad's tracks and tunnels. As Vincent Scully once said, "Through Pennsylvania Station one entered the city like a god. Perhaps it was really too much. One scuttles in now like a rat." In this show we rebuild the grand, original structure in our minds -- the fourth largest building in the world when it was constructed -- and marvel at an opulence now gone.  Why was Penn Station destroyed? If you answered "MONEY!", you're only partially right. This is the story of an architectural treasure endangered -- and a city unprepared to save it. Should something so immense be saved because of its beauty even if its function has diminished or even vanished? Does the public have a say in a privately owned property?  PLUS: We show you where you can still find remnants of old Penn Station by going on a walking tour with Untapped Cities tour guide Justin Rivers.
February 9, 2018
What was it like to experience that epic symbol of New York City – the world famous New York City subway system – for the first time? In this episode, we imagine what opening day was like for the first New York straphangers. We begin by recounting the subway system's construction and registering the excitement of New Yorkers in the days leading up to the opening on October 27, 1904. That fateful day was sheer pandemonium as thousands of people crammed into brand spanking new stations to push themselves into the system's new subway cars. “For the first time in his life Father Knickerbocker went underground yesterday; went underground, he and his children, to the number of 150,000, amid the tooting of whistles and the firing of salutes, for a first ride in a subway which for years had been scoffed at as an impossibility.” [New York Times, October 28, 1904] After listening to this show, we hope you gain a new appreciation for this modern engineering marvel. Hopefully it will make that next subway delay more bearable! boweryboyshistory.com Special thanks to Kieran Gannon for helping with the editing of this show
February 2, 2018
For thousands of African-American enslaved people -- escaping the bonds of slavery in the South -- the journey to freedom wound its way through New York via the Underground Railroad.  The Underground Railroad was a loose, clandestine network of homes, businesses and churches, operated by freed black people and white abolitionists who put it upon themselves -- often at great risk -- to hide fugitives on the run. New York and Brooklyn were vital hubs in this network but these cities were hardly safe havens. The streets swarmed with bounty hunters, and a growing number of New Yorkers, enriched by Southern businesses, were sympathetic to the institution of slavery. Not even freed black New Yorkers were safe from kidnapping and racist anti-abolitionist mobs. In this podcast we present some of the stops in New York along the Underground Railroad -- from offices off Newspaper Row to the basement of New York's first African-American owned bookstore. You'll be familiar with some of this story's leading figures like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Henry Ward Beecher. But many of these courageous tales come from people who you may not know -- the indefatigable Louis Napoleon, the resolute Sydney Howard Gay, the defiant David Ruggles and James Hamlet, the first victim of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. PLUS: A trip to Brooklyn Heights and the site of New York's most famous Underground Railroad site -- Plymouth Church.
January 18, 2018
The old saloons and dance halls of the Bowery are familiar to anyone with a love of New York City history, their debauched and surly reputations appealing in a prurient way, a reminder of a time of great abandon. The Bowery bars and lounges of today often try to emulate the past in demeanor and decor. (Although nobody was drinking expensive bespoke cocktails back in the day.) But the dance hall at 295 Bowery, the loathsome establishment owned by John McGurk, was not a place to admire. It was the worst of the worst, a dive where criminal activity thrived alongside bawdy can-can dancers and endless pours of putrid booze. In early March of 1899, a woman named Bess Levery climbed to one of the top floors of McGurk's -- floors given over to illegal behavior -- and killed herself by drinking carbolic acid. Within a week, two more women had ventured to McGurk's, attempting the same dire deed. By the end of 1899, the dance hall had received a truly grim reputation, and its proprietor, capitalizing on its reputation, began calling his joint McGurk's Suicide Hall. What happened to the Bowery, once the location of fashionable homes and theaters, that such a despicable place could thrive -- mere blocks from police headquarters? This is the history of a truly dark place and the forces of reform that managed to finally shut it down. FEATURING: Theodore Roosevelt, Jacob Riis, Charles Parkhurst and some disreputable fellows by the names of Eat Em Up McManus and Short Change Charley. This episode is sponsored by TNT’s new limited series The Alienist. https://thealienist.com/
January 12, 2018
Start spreading the news .... the Bowery Boys are finally going to the Empire State Building!  New York City's defining architectural icon is greatly misunderstood by many New Yorkers who consider its appeal relegated to tourists and real estate titans. But this powerful and impressive symbol to American construction has a great many secrets among its 102 (or is that 103?) floors. The Empire State Building project was announced in 1929 by former New York governor Al Smith. The group of wealthy investors he fronted were clear in associating the building with his image (the Empire State itself), and Smith was even there at the demolition of the building it would replace -- the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. A few weeks after the announcement, however, the stock market crashed.  In this podcast, we look at how this magnificent skyscraper was built with incredible speed and efficiency, to tower over a city entering the Great Depression. It quickly became a beacon of hope for many -- a symbol of American skill and the embodiment of the New York City spirit. Tourists would indeed flock to it, enamored of the extraordinary views it offered for the very first time. (Most of its early visitors had never been in an airplane.) It would eventually become an object of great value and the subject of tabloid headlines -- many featuring the current President of the United States -- but it would never, ever lose its luster. In fact, that luster, over the years, would become very well lit.....
January 4, 2018
In 1867, Sarah Breedlove was born to parents who had once been enslaved on a Louisiana plantation. Less than fifty years later, Breedlove (as the hair care mogul Madam C.J. Walker) would be the richest African-American woman in the United States, a successful business owner and one of black America's great philanthropists. At her side was daughter Lelia (later A'lelia) Walker, guiding her mother's company to great success despite extraordinary obstacles. The Walkers moved to Harlem in the mid 1910s during the neighborhood's transformation from a white immigrant outpost to a thriving mecca for African-American culture. The ground floor of their spacious West 136th Street home was a hair salon for black women, opened during a contentious period when irate white property owners attempted to stem the tide of black settlement in Harlem. The Walkers were at the heart of significant strides on African-American life. Madam used her wealth to support organizations like the NAACP push back against violence and racism. A'lelia, meanwhile, used her influence to corral the great talents of the Harlem Renaissance. The two of them would positively influence the history of Harlem and black America forever. FEATURING: The words of Langston Hughes, describing one of the most fabulous parties of the Jazz Age! boweryboyshistory.com
December 22, 2017
This week, we celebrate the end of the year by sitting down with Roz Chast, who has been contributing cartoons to the New Yorker Magazine since 1978. Chast is out with a new book, "Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York", which is a guidebook to living in -- and loving -- New York. We discuss her childhood in Brooklyn, life on the Upper West Side in the '70s and '80s, her favorite diner (which is still open!), working at the New Yorker, and much more.
December 15, 2017
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II are two of the greatest entertainers in New York City history. They have entertained millions of people with their unique and influential take on the Broadway musical -- serious, sincere, graceful and poignant. In this episode, we tell the story of this remarkable duo -- from their early years with other creators (Hammerstein with Jerome Kern, Rodgers with Lorenz Hart) to a run-down of all their shows. And almost all of it -- from the plains of Oklahoma to the exotic climates of South Pacific -- takes place on just two city blocks in Midtown Manhattan! boweryboyshistory.com (Stay tuned to the end of the podcast for information on the music clips used in the show.)
December 7, 2017
In today’s show, we’ll continue to explore housing in New York, but move far from the mansions of Fifth Avenue to the tenements of the Lower East Side in the 20th Century. Specifically, we’ll be visiting one building, 103 Orchard Street, which is today part of the Tenement Museum. When we step inside 103 Orchard, we’ll be meeting three families who lived there after World War II: the Epsteins, the Saez-Velez family, and the Wong family. We’ll be getting to know them by walking through their apartments, faithfully reconstructed, often with their very own furniture, to tell their stories. The Epsteins were Holocaust survivors who moved into the building in the 1950s, the Saez-Velez family moved in during the 60s and were led by a mother who left Puerto Rico and worked as a seamstress here, and the Wong family, whose mother raised the family while working in Chinatown garment shops, moved in during the 1970s. They’re included in an exciting new interactive exhibition at the Tenement Museum. This exhibit, which includes a tour of the apartments, is called “Under One Roof”, and opens to the public this month. We’re led through it on our show by Annie Polland, the museum’s curator of this exhibit. For more information on the exhibit, visit tenement.org and boweryboyshistory.com.
December 1, 2017
In this episode, the symbols of the Gilded Age are dismantled. During the late 19th century, New York's most esteemed families built extravagant mansions along Fifth Avenue, turning it into one of the most desired residential streets in the United States. The 'well-connected' families, along with the nouveau riche, planted their homes here, even as the realities of the city encroached around them.  By 1925 most of the mansions below 59th Street were gone, victims of changing tastes and alterations to the city landscape. Excellent hotels like the Plaza and the St. Regis, once considered as elegant as the mansions, soon threatened to distill the street's reputation by attracting outsiders. Clothing manufacturing plants swept through Greenwich Village, and such 'common' purposes threatened the identity of Fifth Avenue. And to the west, the dazzling delights of Times Square seemed certain to blot out any respectability that Midtown Manhattan might have held. And yet, near Central Park, families of newer wealth filled Fifth Avenue with their own opulent homes -- Carnegies, Woolworths, Dukes, Fricks -- as though oblivious to the changes occurring down south.  Most of these habitats of old wealth are gone today. There's no place for a 100-room mansion on one of New York City's busiest streets. Yet a few of these mansions managed to survive by taking on very different identities -- from clothing boutiques to museums.  PLUS: The building that was bought for a necklace!
November 24, 2017
At the heart of New York’s Gilded Age – the late 19th century era of unprecedented American wealth and excess – were families with the names Vanderbilt, Belmont and Astor, alongside power players like A.T. Stewart, Jay Gould and William ‘Boss’ Tweed. They would all make their homes – and in the case of the Vanderbilts, their great many homes – on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The image of Fifth Avenue as a luxury retail destination today grew from the street’s aristocratic reputation in the 1800s. The rich were inextricably drawn to the avenue as early as the 1830s when rich merchants, anxious to be near the exquisite row houses of Washington Square Park, began turning it into an artery of expensive abodes. In this podcast -- the first of two parts -- Tom and Greg present a world that’s somewhat hard to imagine – free-standing mansions in an exclusive corridor running right through the center of Manhattan. Why was Fifth Avenue fated to become the domain of the so-called ‘Upper Ten’? What were the rituals of daily life along such an unusual avenue? And what did these Beaux Arts palaces say about their ritzy occupants? CO-STARRING: Mark Twain, Madame Restell, George Opdyke and “the Marrying Wilsons” boweryboyshistory.com
November 17, 2017
A neon sign blazing on a rainy New York City street evokes the romance of another era, welcoming or mysterious -- depending on how many film noirs you've seen. In 2017, a neon sign says more about a business than the message that its letters spell out. It’s an endangered form of craftsmanship although the production of neon is making a hopeful comeback. In this show Greg briefly take a look at the classic signage in New York City, the kinds of signs you might have seen in New York d during the Gilded Age -- from a dizzying mass of posters to the first electric signs. Then he'll be joined by guest host Thomas Rinaldi, author of the New York Neon book and blog, to figure out what it is about neon that is so essentially New York. And finally because most neon is made by hand, they'll head out to Ridgewood, Queens, to visit one of New York City’s most acclaimed neon family businesses -- Artistic Neon. From glowing crucifixes in Hell’s Kitchen to the sleaze of '70s Times Square, from the marquee of Radio City Music Hall to a thousand diners and liquor stores – this is the story of New York in Neon.
November 10, 2017
We’re taking you back to a world that seems especially foreign today – a world with no selfie sticks, no tens of billions of photographs taken every day from digital screens, a world where the photograph was a rare, special and beautiful thing. New York City plays a very interesting role in the development of photography. While the medium was not invented here, many of its earliest American practitioners were trained here. In particular, the students of Samuel Morse (better known for the telegraph) became masters of the daguerreotype portrait in the early 1840s. The first space photography was taken from the rooftop of New York University. Broadway was known across the country for its dozens of daguerreotypists and their lavishly appointed galleries. But the greatest of them all was Mathew Brady who, from his famous Broadway studio, focused on capturing the images of the world's most famous people -- from Abraham Lincoln to Barnum favorite Tom Thumb. You may know Brady from his Civil War photography, bringing a dose of realism into the parlors of sheltered New Yorkers. One particular gallery show in 1862 called The Dead of Antietam would shake the city and set the stage for the invention of photojournalism.
October 26, 2017
Edgar Allan Poe was a wanderer -- looking for work, for love, for meaning. That's why so many American cities can lay claim to a small aspect of his legacy. Baltimore, Boston, Richmond and Philadelphia all have their own stories to tell about the great writer. In this show, we spotlight the imprint Poe made upon New York City. Poe was in New York both on the year of his birth (as the child of two stage actor) and the year of his death (fleeing his longtime home in Fordham). Throughout out his life he came back -- again and again -- discovering inspiration in the prosperous, growing city of the 1830s and 40s. He lived in Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side. And for a time, he also lived in the area of today's Upper West Side, in a farmhouse where he conjured to vivid life his most successful poem -- "The Raven". The Poe Cottage in the Bronx is the only extant building where Poe (and his young wife Virginia) actually lived, a modest abode that's a rare example of surviving working-class housing from the mid-19th century. Through tragedy, Poe sought solitude in the surrounding mounts and fields of Westchester County. The majestic High Bridge would be of a particular strange comfort. This is a story both of Poe himself and the fragments of buildings and homes left behind with his name attached to them. In many neighborhoods of New York, you can linger with the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe himself.
October 20, 2017
For this year's annual Bowery Boys Halloween ghost story podcast, we cautiously approach the dark secrets of Greenwich Village, best known for bohemians, shady and winding streets and a deep unexpected history. You will never look at its parks and townhouses again after this show! The stories featured this year: -- The hidden history of Washington Square Park with the oldest tree in New York -- nicknamed the Hangman's Elm -- and some truly grave secrets beneath its lovely walkways -- The Brittany Residence Hall for New York University students has a very famous ghost, a child who experienced a horrible death and continued to haunt the halls of this former hotel, looking for friends to play with -- Mayor Jimmy Walker once lived across from an old burial ground in the West Village. But when its ancient plots were replaced with a city park (to be named after the notorious mayor), the bodies and the tombstones were mostly paved over. To this day, a single grave marker sits astride the baseball field, a sole reminder of the area's macabre past. -- And finally the ceiling of a old Bank Street townhouse reveals an unusual object. How did it get there? This is a tale that stretches from the mid 1920s to the early 1980s. And from the haunted streets of the West Village to a peaceful respite in Northern California! boweryboyshistory.com
October 13, 2017
There once was a well just north of Collect Pond (New York’s fetid source of drinking water in the late 18th century) in a marshy place called Lispenard’s Meadow, in the area of today’s SoHo.  One cold day in December – in the year 1799 -- a boy came across a lady’s article of clothing here matching that in the possession of a missing woman named Elma Sands. Upon looking into the old, boarded-up well, investigators discovered a horrifying sight – the lifeless body of Ms. Sands, which had been submerged in the well for several days. Suspicion immediately shifted to the boarding house where she lived and worked, and the unusual tenants there all became suspects – including Levi Weeks, the brother of a prominent builder. Weeks was soon accused of her murder and thrown into jail. This is the tale of the extraordinary trial that occurred in March of 1800 featuring two of the most prominent people in New York City – Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Years before their fateful duel in Weehawken, the two lawyers agreed to defend Weeks against charges of brutal murder.  But Hamilton and Burr were linked to the case in other ways. A banking institution borne from these early days still thrives today. And, believe it or not, the infamous Manhattan well still exists in the basement of a surprising place.
September 29, 2017
The borough of Queens has a history unlike any in the New York City region, but the story of its northwestern region -- comprising Astoria, Long Island City and about a half dozen other, smaller neighborhoods -- is particularly surprising. And there are basic aspects of these wonderful neighborhoods, fundamental to every day life here, that you may have never known. How did Astoria get its name? John Jacob Astor is involved, but not in the way you think. Was Long Island City an actual city? Well, technically, yes. In the 19th century, it was certainly corrupt like a modern city! How important to Astoria history is the Steinway Piano Factory? So important that modern Astoria would not exist in its present form without it. In 2017, why is Long Island City full of new developments and Astoria almost none? The secret is imbedded in its history, in decisions that were made 150 years ago. And it all begins with a brutal murder -- in a little place called Hallet's Cove. STARRING: Robert Moses, Tony Bennett, Isamu Noguchi and the casts of dozens of TV and movies. Not to mention the best selection of food in New York City!
September 15, 2017
Columbus Circle, a center of media and shopping at the entrance to Central Park, has a history that, well, runs against the grain. Counter-clockwise, if you will.  When the park was completed in the mid 19th century, a 'Grand Circle' was planned for a busy thoroughfare of horse-drawn carriages. A monument to the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus was placed at its center in 1892, bought and paid for by New York's new Italian community.  But the circle had awkwardly adjusted to modern development, and architecture which has graced its perimeter had been uniquely scorned -- from the 'confusing' Maine Monument to Robert Moses' New York Coliseum, a dated convention center which eliminated a street from the city's grid.  Join us for a look at this unusual section of New York City, a place of both music history and real estate headaches. And what should the city do about that Columbus statute, embroiled in a modern controversy? STARRING: William Phelps Enos, Donald Trump, Sophie Tucker and a man with the extraordinary name of Teunis Somerindyke.
September 8, 2017
Take a trip with us down the grittiest streets in Times Square -- the faded marquees of the grindhouses, the neon-lit prurient delights of Eighth Avenue at night. Times Square in the 1970s was all about fantasy -- from the second-run theaters of 42nd Street to the pornographic pleasures of the adult bookstores next door. And yet our ideas of this place and time are also caught in a bit of fantastic nostalgia. In memory it becomes an erotic theme park, a quaint corner of New York City history. Sometimes its stark everyday reality is forgotten. In this show we focus on a couple of Times Square's most notorious streets from the period -- 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue -- and provide historical context for the seediness they were known for in this era.  Those glowing marquees disguise a theatrical history that dates from the beginning of Times Square, once hosting productions by the likes of Florenz Ziegfeld and Oscar Hammerstein. And the sex industries themselves trace back to the early seedy days of the Tenderloin neighborhood. They coalesced around Port Authority Bus Terminal (aka "the cavern of squalor") to produce a gritty scene that was at once alluring, dangerous, and quintessentially New York.
September 1, 2017
Something so giddy and wild as New York City in the Jazz Age would have to burn out at some point but nobody expected the double catastrophe of a paralyzing financial crash and a wide-ranging government corruption scandal. Mayor Jimmy Walker, in a race for a second term against a rising congressman named Fiorello La Guardia, might have had a few cocktails at the Central Park Casino after hearing of the pandemonium on Wall Street in late October 1929. The irresponsible speculation fueling the stock market of the Roaring 20's suddenly fell apart, turning princes into paupers overnight. Rumors spread among gathering crowds in front of the New York Stock Exchange of distraught traders throwing themselves out windows. And yet a more immediately crisis was awaiting the party mayor of New York -- the investigations of Judge Samuel Seabury, steering a crackdown authorized by governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt to rid New York City of its deep-ceded, Tammany Hall-fueled corruption.  With the American economy in free fall and hundreds of New York politicians, police officers and judges falling to corruption revelations, the world needed a drink! Counting down to the last days of Prohibition.... PLUS: The fate of the fabulous Texas Guinan, the movie star turned Prohibition hostess who hit the road with a bawdy new burlesque -- that led to a tragic end.  This is the final part of our three-part NEW YORK IN THE JAZZ AGE podcast series. Check out our two prior episode #233 The Roaring '20s: The King of the Jazz Age and #234 Queen of the Speakeasies: A Tale of Prohibition New York
August 18, 2017
Texas Guinan was the queen of the speakeasy era, the charismatic and sassy hostess of New York's hottest nightclubs of the 1920s. Her magnetism, sharpened by years of work in Hollywood, would make her one of the great icons of the Prohibition era. She's our guide into the underworld of the Jazz Age as we explore the history of Prohibition and how it affected New York City.  The temperance movement united a very bizarre group of players -- progressives, nativists, churchgoers -- in their quest to eliminate the evil of alcohol from American society. Many saw liquor as a symbol of systemic social failure; others suspected it as the weakness of certain immigrant groups. Guinan, a Catholic girl from Waco, Texas, was introduced to New York's illegal booze scene by way of the nightclub. Her associations with rumrunners and gangsters were certainly dangerous, but her unique skills and charms allowed her an unprecedented power on the edges of a world fueled by the ways of organized crime.  Come along as we visit her various nightclubs and follow the course of Prohibition in New York City from the loftiest heights to the lowliest dive.   boweryboyshistory.com
August 4, 2017
The Bowery Boys are heading to the speakeasy and kicking back with some bathtub gin this month -- with a brand new series focusing on New York City during the Prohibition Era. The 1920s were a transformational decade for New York, evolving from a Gilded Age capital to the ideal of the modern international city. Art Deco skyscrapers reinvented the skyline, reorienting the center of gravity from downtown to a newly invigorated Midtown Manhattan. Cultural influences, projected to the world via radio and the silent screen, helped create a new American style. And the king of it all was Jimmy Walker, elected mayor of New York City just as its prospects were at their highest. The Tin Pan Alley songwriter-turned-Tammany Hall politician was always known more for his grace and style than his accomplishments. His wit and character embodied the spirit (and the spirits) of the Roaring '20s. Join us for an after-midnight romp with the Night Mayor of New York as ascends to the most powerful seat in the city and spends his first term in the lap of luxury. What could possibly go wrong?
July 20, 2017
Picture the neighborhood of SoHo (that’s right, "South of Houston") in your head today, and you might get a headache. Crowded sidewalks on the weekend, filled with tourists, shoppers and vendors, could almost distract you from SoHo’s unique appeal as a place of extraordinary architecture and history. On this podcast we present the story of how a portion of “Hell’s Hundred Acres” became one of the most famously trendy places in the world. In the mid 19th century this area, centered along Broadway, became the heart of retail and entertainment, department stores and hotels setting up shop in grand palaces. (It also became New York’s most notorious brothel district). The streets between Houston and Canal became known as the Cast Iron District, thanks to an exciting construction innovation that transformed the Gilded Age. Today SoHo contains the world’s greatest surviving collection of cast-iron architecture. But these gorgeous iron tributes to New York industry were nearly destroyed – first by rampant fires, then by Robert Moses. Community activists saved these buildings, and just in time for artists to move into their spacious loft spaces in the 1960s and 70s. The artists are still there of course but these once-desolate cobblestone streets have almost unrecognizably changed, perhaps a victim of its own success.
July 6, 2017
While Greg and Tom are away this week on life-changing adventures, please enjoy this very New York City-centric episode of the Bowery Boys spinoff podcast The First: Stories of Inventions and their Consequences -- The Black Crook is considered the first-ever Broadway musical, a dizzying, epic-length extravaganza of ballerinas, mechanical sets, lavish costumes and a storyline about the Devil straight out of a twisted hallucination. The show took New York by storm when it debuted on September 12, 1866. This is the story of how this completely weird, virtually unstageable production came to pass. Modern musicals like Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Hamilton wouldn’t quite be what they are today without this curious little relic. Featuring music by Adam Roberts and Libby Dees, courtesy the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. And the voice of Ben Rimalower reading the original reviews of the Black Crook. And our special thanks to Secret Summer NYC for sponsoring this episode. Please visit www.secretsummernyc.com for more information and to get tickets. boweryboyshistory.com
June 22, 2017
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, undercover police officers attempting to raid the Stonewall Inn, a mob-controlled gay bar with darkened windows on Christopher Street, were met with something unexpected -- resistance. That 'altercation' was a messy affair indeed -- chaotic, violent, dangerous for all. Homeless youth fought against riot police along the twisting, crooked streets of the West Village. And yet, by the end, thousands from all walks of life met on those very same streets in the days and weeks to come in a new sense of empowerment. In May of 2008, we recorded a podcast on the Stonewall Riots, an event that galvanized the LGBTQ community, giving birth to political organizations and a sense of unity and pride. So much has changed within the LGBTQ community -- and so much was left out of our original show -- that's we've decided to do something unique. In the first half, we present to you our original 2008 history on the Stonewall Riots, warts and all. In the second half, we present newly recorded material, exploring the effects of Stonewall on the crises that faced the gay community in the 1980s and 90s. Now an official U.S. National Monument maintained by the National Park Service, the Stonewall National Monument preserves New York City's role in the birth of the international LGBT movement. And please forgive us in advance for being extra personal in this show near the end.   boweryboyshistory.com This show is brought to you by Audible. Listen anytime, anywhere to an unmatched selection of audiobooks, original premium podcasts and more.
June 8, 2017
Today we sometimes define New York City's African-American culture by place – Harlem, of course, and also Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, neighborhoods that developed for groups of black residents in the 20th century. But by no means were these the first in New York City. Other centers of black and African-American life existed long before then. In many cases, they were obliterated by the growth of the city, sometimes built over without a single marker, without recognition. This is the story of a few of those places.  From the 'land of the blacks' -- the home to New Amsterdam and British New York's early black population -- to Seneca Village, a haven for early African-American lives that was wiped away by a park. From Little Africa -- the Greenwich Village sector for the black working class in the late 19th century -- to Sandy Ground, a rural escape in Staten Island with deep roots in the neighborhood today. And then there's Weeksville, Brooklyn, the visionary village built to bond a community and to develop a political foothold. Greg welcomes Kamau Ware (of the Black Gotham Experience) and Tia Powell Harris of the Weeksville Heritage Center to the show!   boweryboyshistory.com blackgotham.com weeksvillesociety.com
May 25, 2017
In early June of 2007, Tom Meyers and Greg Young sat around a laptop and a karaoke microphone, looked out over Canal Street in the Lower East Side and began recording the very first Bowery Boys: New York City History Podcast. For ten years the Bowery Boys podcast has brought the history of this extraordinary city to life -- the people, places and events which have helped shape our modern metropolis. In celebration of this anniversary, join them for their very first podcast event in front of a live audience as a part of the 2017 NYC Podfest festival. This show was recorded on April 9, 2017, at the Bell House, in Gowanus, Brooklyn. They talk about how they met, how they came up with the idea for their show and run through a list of their favorite and most notable podcasts. The Bowery Boys are joined by moderator Nat Towsen, host of the Nat Towsen Downtown Variety Hour every month at UCB Theater in the East Village. And stay tuned until the end! An unexpected guest arrives to present the Bowery Boys with a special gift. FEATURING: Stories of Eartha Kitt, Boss Tweed, ABBA, Evelyn Nesbit, P. T. Barnum, Tallulah Bankhead, Donald Trump, Varla Jean Merman, the musical Rent and, of course, Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. boweryboyshistory.com
May 12, 2017
The area of Lower Manhattan below Wall Street is today filled with investment bankers, business people and tourists. But did you know, over 300 years ago, that the same streets were once crawling with pirates? In the early decades of the British colony of New York, the city was quite an appealing destination for pirates and their ships filled with stolen treasure. After all, the port of New York was far away from the supervision of the crown, providing local merchants with ample temptations to do business with the high sea's most notorious criminals. Captain William Kidd is a figure of legend, the most ruthless and bloodthirsty pirate on the planet. And yet, for many years, he was a respectable New York gentleman, with connected friends, a wealthy wife and a sumptuous home on Pearl Street near the original wall of Wall Street. But Kidd sought adventure as a privateer and made a deal with prominent New Yorkers to scour British trading routes for pirates. This is the tale of how a dashing New York sea captain became branded (perhaps unfairly) as one of the most evil men of the ocean. PLUS: Captain Kidd startling connection to New York's Trinity Church! And where in New York City might one find some of Captain Kidd's fabled treasure today?   boweryboyshistory.com   CORRECTION: From the final section — it is Blackbeard the pirate, not Bluebeard the pirate, who is made an example of by the English in 1718.
April 27, 2017
On the afternoon of May 6, 1937, New Yorkers looked overhead at an astonishing sight -- the arrival of the Hindenburg, the largest airship in the world, drifting calmly across the sky.  New York City was already in the throes of "Zeppelin mania" by then. These rigid gas-filled airships, largely manufactured by Germany, were experiencing a Jazz Age rediscovery thanks in part to the Graf Zeppelin, a glamorous commercial airship which first crossed the ocean in 1928. Its commander and crew even received two ticker-tape parades through lower Manhattan. In size and prominence, the Hindenburg would prove to be the greatest airship of all. It was the Concorde of its day, providing luxurious transatlantic travel for the rich and famous. In Germany, the airship was used as a literal propaganda machine for the rising Nazi government of Adolf Hitler. But dreams of Zeppelin-filled skies were quickly vanquished in the early evening hours of May 6, 1937, over a landing field in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Its destruction would be one of the most widely seen disasters in the world, marking an end to this particular vision of the future. But a mark of the Zeppelin age still exists on the New York City skyline, atop the city's most famous building!
April 13, 2017
The Midtown Manhattan stretch of Fifth Avenue, once known for its ensemble of extravagant mansions owned by the Gilded Age's wealthiest families, went through an astonishing makeover one hundred years ago. Many lavish abodes of the rich were turned into exclusive retail boutiques, catering to the very sorts of people who once lived here. On the forefront of this transformation were two women from very different backgrounds. Elizabeth Arden was a Canadian entrepreneur, looking to establish her business in the growing city of New York. Helena Rubinstein, from Poland by way of Australia, already owned an established company and looked to Manhattan as a way to anchor her business in America. Their products -- beauty! Creams, lotions, ointments and cleansers. Then later: eye-liners, rouges, lipsticks, mascaras. In this episode we observe the growing independence of American woman and the changing beauty standards which arose in the 1910s and 20s, bringing 'the painted face' into the mainstream. And it's in large part thanks to these two extraordinary businesswomen, crafting two parallel empires in a corporate framework usually reserved for men. ALSO: Theda Bara, Estée Lauder, Max Factor and a whole lot of sheep and horses! Visit boweryboyshistory.com for images described in this show as well as other articles relating to New York City history.
March 31, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages -- the Bowery Boys present to you the tale of P. T. Barnum and his "Greatest Show on Earth," the world's most famous circus! You can't even bring up the discussion of circuses without mentioning the name of Barnum. But in fact, he only entered the circus business in his later years, after decades of success with bizarre museums, traveling curiosities, touring opera divas and all manner of fabricated 'humbugs'. In the late 19th century, in order for circuses to survive, innovators like Barnum needed to come up with startling new ways to get the attentions of audiences. Although his circus -- which would eventually merge with that of James Bailey and, later, the Ringling Brothers -- was a sensation which toured across the United States, it always began each season in New York, specifically situated on the northeast corner of Madison Square. Tune in to find out how New York institutions owned by Barnum became imprinted on the basic structure of the classic American circus.  And join us as we visit the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, CT, to gather some insight on Barnum's unique genius. CO-STARRING: Jumbo the Elephant, Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill, the Cardiff Giant and Tom Thumb!
March 16, 2017
You don't have a New York City without the Irish. In fact, you don't have a United States of America as we know it today. This diverse and misunderstood immigrant group began coming over in significant numbers starting in the Colonial era, mostly as indentured servants. In the early 19th century, these Irish arrivals, both Protestants and Catholics, were already consolidating -- via organizations like the Ancient Order of the Hibernians and in places like St. Patrick's Cathedral. But starting in the 1830s, with a terrible blight wiping out Ireland's potato crops, a mass wave of Irish immigration would dwarf all that came before, hundreds of thousands of weary, sometimes desperate newcomers who entered New York to live in its most squalid neighborhoods. The Irish were among the laborers who built the Croton Aqueduct, the New York grid plan and Central Park. Irish women comprised most of the hired domestic help by the mid 19th century. The arrival of the Irish and their assimilation into American life is a story repeated in many cities. Here in New York City, it is essential in our understanding of the importance of modern immigrant communities to the life of the Big Apple. PLUS: The origins of New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade! www.boweryboyshistory.com
March 3, 2017
One June afternoon in the spring of 1919, a group of writers and theatrical folk got together at the Algonquin Hotel to roast the inimitable Alexander Woollcott, the trenchant theater critic for the New York Times who had just returned from World War I, brimming with dramatically overbaked stories.   The affair was so rollicking, so engaging, that somebody suggested -- "Why don't we do this every day?" And so they did. The Algonquin Round Table is the stuff of legends, a regular lunch date for the cream of New York's cultural elite. In this show, we present you with some notable members of the guest list -- including the wonderful droll Dorothy Parker, the glibly observant Franklin Pierce Adams and the charming Robert Benchley, to name but a few. But you can't celebrate the Round Table from a recording studio so we head to the Algonquin to soak in the ambience and interview author Kevin C. Fitzpatrick about the Jazz Age's most famous networking circle. Are you ready for a good time? “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.” -- Dorothy Parker
February 16, 2017
In the spring of 1836, a young woman named Helen Jewett was brutally murdered with a hatchet in a townhouse on Thomas Street, just a few blocks northwest from City Hall. This was not a normal crime. Helen was a prostitute of great beauty and considerable intelligence, making her living in a rapidly transforming city. Among her client list were presentable gentlemen and rowdy young men alike -- their kind fueling the rise of illicit pleasures throughout New York City in the 1830s. This was the era of the sporting man. Young single men with a little change in their pocket hit the streets of New York after dark, looking for a good time. For some single young women struggling to survive, the sex industry -- from the 'high end' brothels to the grimy upper tiers of the theater -- allowed them to live comfortable, if secretive, lives. But it placed many in great danger. The prime suspect for Helen's murder was a young Connecticut man who worked at a respectable New York firm. His trial would captivate New Yorkers and even interest newspaper readers around the country. But would justice be served? ALSO: Find out how this incident helped shape the nature of American journalism itself. PLUS: Meet more than one person named Ogden!   www.boweryboyshistory.com If you like this show, check out the new Bowery Boys spin-off podcast series -- The First: Stories of Inventions and their Consequences. You can find it the same place you found this show.
February 2, 2017
During a handful of months in 1789 and 1790, representatives of the new nation of the United States came together in New York City to make decisions which would forever affect the lives of Americans. In this second part of our two-part show on New York as the first federal capital of the United States, we roll up our sleeves and get down to business. (In the first part, he moved the capital to lower Manhattan and inaugurated ourselves a new president George Washington!)  The men of the first Continental Congress -- which first met in the Spring of 1789 -- had a lofty job in front of them that year. They needed to not only construct the tools and offices of a brand new government, they were also tasked with defining the basic rights of American citizens via a set of amendments to the U.S. Constitution -- the Bill of Rights. Now imagine doing this in your post-Colonial era garments during a hot summer, all crammed into a few rooms at Federal Hall, the former City Hall building on Wall Street. It was here that the Bill of Rights was introduced, debated and voted upon. But those weren't the only monumental decisions being made in the city. When nobody could come to an agreement on two major issues -- the assumption of state debt and the location of the permanent federal capital -- it was up to Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to craft a deal, made during a legendary dinner party on Maiden Lane. We live today with the critical decisions made by these three men on that night over food and wine. ALSO: The tale of James Hemings, an enslaved man who became an accomplished French chef and most likely the cook for that very dinner, witness to the events in "the room where it happened."   boweryboyshistory.com
January 20, 2017
The story of New York City's role in the birth of American government is sometimes forgotten. Most of the buildings important to the first U.S. Congress, which met here from the spring of 1789 to the late summer of 1790, have long been demolished. There's little to remind us that our modern form of government was, in part, invented here on these city streets. Riding high on the victories of the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers organized a makeshift Congress under the Articles of Confederation.  After an unfortunate crisis in Philadelphia, that early group of politicians from the 13 states eventually drifted up to New York (specifically to New York's City Hall, to be called Federal Hall) to meet. But they were an organization without much power or respect. The fate of the young nation lay on the shoulders of George Washington who arrived in New York in the spring of 1789 to be inaugurated as the first president of the United States. His swearing-in would finally unite Americans around their government and would imbue the port city of New York with a new urgency. This is Part One of a two part celebration of these years, featuring cantankerous vice presidents, festive cannonades, and burning plumage! (Part Two arrives in two weeks.) FEATURING Washington, Adams, Madison, Livingston and, of course, HAMILTON! www.boweryboyshistory.com   NOTE: In the show we accidentally say 'Yorkville' once when we meant 'Yorktown'. Blame it on our New York-centrism; Yorkville is a neighborhood in the Upper East Side!
December 23, 2016
We're in the mood for a good old-fashioned Gilded Age story so we're replaying one of our favorite Bowery Boys episodes ever -- Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst vs. the newsies! It was pandemonium in the streets. One hot summer in July 1899, thousands of corner newsboys (and girls) went on strike against the New York Journal and the New York World. Throngs filled the streets of downtown Manhattan for two weeks and prevented the two largest papers in the country from getting distributed. In this episode, we look at the development of the sensationalist New York press -- the birth of yellow journalism -- from its very earliest days, and how sensationalism's two famous purveyors were held at ransom by the poorest, scrappiest residents of the city. The conflict put a light to the child labor crisis and became a dramatic example of the need for reform. Crazy Arborn, Kid Blink, Racetrack Higgins and Barney Peanuts invite you to the listen in to this tale of their finest moment, straight from the street corners of Gilded Age New York. PLUS: Bonus material featuring a closer look at the Brooklyn Newsboys Strike and a moment with the newsies during the holidays.
December 9, 2016
Warm up the orchestra, lace up your dance slippers, and bring the diva to the stage! For our latest show we’re telling the origin story of Lincoln Center, the fine arts campus which assembles some of the city’s finest music and theatrical institutions to create the classiest 16.3 acres in New York City. Lincoln Center was created out of an urgent necessity, bringing together the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, the Juilliard School of Music and other august fine-arts companies as a way of providing a permanent home for American culture. However this tale of Robert Moses’ urban renewal philosophies and the survival of storied institutions has a tragic twist. The campus sits on the site of a former neighborhood named San Juan Hill, home to thousands of African American and Puerto Rican families in the mid 20th century.  No trace of this neighborhood exists today. Or, should we say, ALMOST no trace. San Juan Hill exists, at least briefly, with a part of classic American cinema. The Oscar-winning film West Side Story, based on the celebrated musical, was partially filmed here. The movie reflects many realities of the neighborhood and involves talents who would be, ahem, instrumental in Lincoln Center’s continued successes. FEATURING – Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price, James Earl Jones, Imelda Marcos, David Geffen and, naturally, the Nutcracker! www.boweryboyshistory.com
November 24, 2016
Truman Capote is a true New York character, a Southern boy who wielded his immense writing talents to secure a place within Manhattan high society. Elegant, witty, compact, gay -- Capote was a fixture of swanky nightclubs and arm candy to wealthy, well-connected women. One project would entirely change his life -- the completion of the classic In Cold Blood, a 'non-fiction novel' about a brutal mass murder in Kansas. Retreating from his many years of research, Truman decided to throw a party. But this wasn't ANY party. This soiree -- a masquerade ball at the Plaza Hotel -- would have the greatest assemblage of famous folks ever gathered for something so entirely frivolous. An invite to the ball was the true golden ticket, coveted by every celebrity and social climber in America. Come with us as we give you a tour of the planning of the Black and White Ball and a few glamorous details from that strange, glorious evening. FEATURING: Harper Lee, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Robert Frost, Lillian Hellman, Halston, Katherine Graham and a cast of thousands (well, or just 540)   www.boweryboyshistory.com
November 11, 2016
Edwin Booth was the greatest actor of the Gilded Age, a superstar of the theater who entertained millions over his long career. In this podcast, we present his extraordinary career, the tragedies that shaped his life (on stage and off), and the legacy of his cherished Players Club, the fabulous Stanford White-designed Gramercy Park social club for actors, artists and their admirers.   The Booths were a precursor to the Barrymores, an acting family who were as famous for their personal lives as they were for their dramatic roles.  Younger brother John Wilkes Booth would horrify the nation in 1865, and Edwin would briefly retire from the stage. But an outpouring of love would bring him back to the spotlight and the greasepaint. Edwin Booth would give back to the theatrical community for the formation of the Players Club in 1888. In this show, we’ll take you on a tour of this exclusive destination for film and theatrical icons, including a look at the upstairs bedroom where Booth died, still preserved exactly as it looked on that fateful day in 1893. Boweryboyshistory.com
October 28, 2016
01: The first Ferris Wheel was invented to become America’s Eiffel Tower, making its grand debut at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The wheel’s inventor George Washington Gale Ferris was a clever and optimistic soul; he did everything in his power to ensure that his glorious mechanical ride would forever change the world. That it did, but unfortunately, its inventor paid a horrible price. FEATURING a visit to one of the most famous wheels in the world and a trip to one of Chicago’s newest marvels. This is a special preview for the new Bowery Boys spin-off podcast series The First: Stories of Inventions and their Consequences, brought to you by Bowery Boys host Greg Young.
October 14, 2016
For this year's 10th annual Bowery Boys Halloween special, we're highlighting haunted tales from the period just after the Civil War when New York City became one of the richest cities in the world -- rich in wealth and in ghosts! We go to four boroughs in this one (sorry Brooklyn!): -- In the Bronx we highlight a bizarre house that once stood in the area of Hunts Point, a mansion of malevolent and disturbing mysteries -- Then we turn to Manhattan to a rambunctious poltergeist on fashionable East 27th Street -- Over in Queens, a lonely farmhouse in the area of today's Calvary Cemetery is witness to not one, but two unsettling and confounding deaths -- Finally, in Staten Island, we take a visit to the glorious Vanderbilt Mausoleum, a historic landmark and a location with a few strange secrets of its own PLUS: Stay tuned until the end to hear the trailer for the new Bowery Boys podcast series -- The First: Stories of Inventions and their Consequences   www.boweryboyshistory.com
September 29, 2016
The Bronx was burning. The Bronx is now rising. In the third and final part of our Bronx history series, we tackle the most difficult period in the life of this borough -- the late 20th century and the days and nights of urban blight. The focus of this show is the South Bronx, once the tranquil farmlands of the Morris family and the location of the first commuter towns, situated along the new railroad.  By the 1950s, however, a great number of socio-economic forces and physical changes were conspiring to make life in this area very, very challenging. Construction projects like the Cross Bronx Expressway and shifts in living arrangements (from new public housing to the promise of Co-Op City) had isolated those who still lived in the old tenements of the South Bronx. Poverty and high crime rendered the neighborhood so undesirable that buildings were abandoned and even burned. Mainstream attention (from notable television broadcasts to visits by the President of the United States) did not seem to immediately change things here. It would be up to local neighborhood activists and wide-ranging city and state programs -- not to mention the purveyors of an energetic new musical force -- to begin to improve the fortunes of this seemingly doomed borough. FEATURING an interview with Inside Out Tours founder and chief tour guide Stacey Toussaint about the new Bronx renaissance. ALSO: Appearances by Howard Cosell, Sonia Sotomayor, Robert Moses, Grand Wizzard Theodore, and Jimmy Carter!   www.boweryboyshistory.com
September 16, 2016
In the second part of the Bowery Boys' Bronx Trilogy -- recounting the entire history of New York City's northernmost borough -- we focus on the years between 1875 and 1945, a time of great evolution and growth for the former pastoral areas of Westchester County. New York considered the newly annexed region to be of great service to the over-crowded city in Manhattan, a blank canvas for visionary urban planners.  Soon great parks and mass transit transformed these northern areas of New York into a sibling (or, perhaps more accurately, a step-child) of the densely packed city to the south. The Grand Concourse embodied the promise of a new life for thousands of new residents -- mostly first and second-generation immigrants, many of them Jewish newcomers. But the first time that many outside New York became aware of the Bronx may have been the arrival in 1923 of New York's most victorious baseball team, arriving via a spectacular new stadium where sports history would frequently be made. By the 1930s Parks Commissioner Robert Moses began looking at the borough as a major factor in his grand urban development plans. In some cases, this involved the creation of vital public recreations (like Orchard Beach). Other decisions would mark the beginning of new troubles for the Bronx.
September 1, 2016
The story of the Bronx is so large, so spectacular, that we had to spread it out over three separate podcasts! In Part One -- The Bronx Is Born -- we look at the land that is today's borough, back when it was a part of Westchester County, a natural expanse of heights, rivers and forests occasionally interrupted by farm-estates and modest villages.  Settlers during the Dutch era faced grave turmoil. Those that came afterwards managed to tame the land with varying results.  Speculators were everyone; City Island was born from the promise of a relationship with the city down south. During the Revolutionary War, prominent families were faced with a dire choice -- stay with the English or side with George Washington's Continental Army? One prominent family would help shape the fate of the young nation and leave their name forever attached to one of the Bronx's oldest neighborhoods. Sadly that family's legacy is under-appreciated today. By the 1840s, Westchester County was at last connected to New York via a new railroad line. It was a prosperous decade with the development of the area's first college, a row of elegant homes and some of its very first 'depot towns'.  Two decades later, the future borough would even cater to the dead -- both the forgotten (at Hart Island) and the wealthy (Woodlawn Cemetery). The year 1874 would mark a new chapter for a few quiet towns and begin the process of turning this area into the borough known as the Bronx. FEATURING: Many places in the Bronx that you can visit today and experience this early history up close, including Wave Hill, Pelham Bay Park, Woodlawn Cemetery, City Island and more.   NOTE: Thanks to Angel Hernandez from the Bronx Historical Society, not (as per our slip of the tongue in an older version of this show) the Brooklyn Historical Society.   www.boweryboyshistory.com Our book Adventures In Old New York is now in bookstores and online, wherever books are sold!
August 18, 2016
Ann Lohman, aka Madame Restell, was one of the most vilified women of the 19th century, an abortion practitioner that dodged the law to become one of the wealthiest self-made women in the Gilded Age. But is her reputation justified? Thoughts on abortion and birth control were quite different in the 1830s, the era in which Madame Restell got her start. It was society and marital morality -- not science and religion -- that played a substantial role in New Yorkers' views on the termination of pregnancy.  Restell and countless imitators offers a wide range of potions, pills and powders to customers, provided in veiled wording in newspaper advertisements. By the 1860s Restell was insulated from serious interrogation and flaunted her unique position in society by planting her Fifth Avenue mansion in a very controversial place. But she soon became a target of New York's most dogged reformer, a man who considered her pure evil and the source of society's most illicit sins. www.boweryboyshistory.com
August 4, 2016
New York has an interesting, complex and downright weird relationship with video games, from the digital sewers below Manhattan to the neon-lit arcades of Times Square.  In this grab bag episode – filled with nostalgia and nerdyness -- we capture all sides of the relation. First -- the relationship between the city and the arcade itself, once filled with shooting galleries, skee ball and pinball machines which, in  the 1930s. became public enemy number one for one of New York’s most powerful mayors.   The era of Space Invaders, Pac Man and Donkey Kong descends in New York during its grittiest period – the late 70s/early 80s – and arrives, like an alien presence, into many neighborhood arcades including one of the most famous in Chinatown – an arcade that is still open and the subject of a new documentary 'The Lost Arcade'. While the video game industry is not something New York City is particularly associated with, the city does in fact set the stage for this revolution of blips and joysticks at the start of the 20th century.   Then it's on to Queens when you can find one of America's great tributes to the video game, in the arcade collection at the Museum of the Moving Image.  At the end Greg goes into the games themselves to explore New York as a digital landscape that continues to be of fascination to game developers and players alike.  So are you ready Player One? Grab your quarters and log in to this New York adventure through the world of video games.   boweryboyshistory.com Our book The Bowery Boys' Adventures In Old New York is now out in bookstores and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
July 21, 2016
You might think you know this tale, but do we have surprises for you. The Waldorf-Astoria -- or the Waldorf=Astoria or even the Waldorf Astoria -- has been a premier name in hotel accommodations since the opening of the very first edition on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue (the location of today's Empire State Building). But the history of the current incarnation on Park Avenue contains the twists and turns of world events, from World War II to recent diplomatic dramas. In essence, the Waldorf Astoria has become the world's convention center. Step past the extraordinary Art Deco trappings, and you'll find rooms which have hosted a plethora of important gatherings, not to mention the frequent homes to Hollywood movie stars. But its those very trappings -- some of it well over a century old -- that finds itself in danger today as recent changes threaten to wipe away its glamorous interiors entirely. boweryboyshistory.com Our book The Bowery Boys' Adventures In Old New York is now out in bookstores and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
July 7, 2016
New Yorkers can be tough to crack, maneuvering through a rapidly changing, fast-paced city. But they can, at times, also be easily fooled. In this episode, we explore two of the wackiest stories in early New York City history, two instances of tall tales that got quite out of hand. While both of these stories are almost two centuries old, they both have certain parallels to modern-day hucksterism. In the 1820s, the Erie Canal would completely change the fortunes of the young United States, turning the port city of New York into one of the most important in the world.  But an even greater engineering challenge was necessary to prevent the entire southern part of Manhattan from sinking into the harbor. You read that right -- New York was sinking! That is, if you believed a certain charlatan hanging out at the market..... One decade later, the burgeoning penny press would give birth to another tremendous fabrication and kick off an uneasy association between the media and the truth. In the summer of 1835 the New York Sun reported on startling discoveries from one of the world's most famous astronomers. Life on the moon! Indeed, vivid moon forests populated with a menagerie of bizarre creatures and winged men with behaviors similar to that of men on Earth.  www.boweryboyshistory.com Our book The Bowery Boys' Adventures In Old New York is now out in bookstores and on line at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
June 24, 2016
The first subway in New York -- the first in the United States! – travelled only a single block and failed to influence the future of transportation. And yet Alfred Ely Beach's marvelous pneumatic transit system provides us today with one of the most enchanting stories of New York during the Gilded Age. With the growing metropolis still very much confined to below 14th Street by 1850, New Yorkers frantically looked for more efficient ways to transport people out of congested neighborhoods. Elevated railroads? Moving sidewalks? Massive stone viaducts? Inventor Beach, publisher of the magazine Scientific American, believed he had the answer, using pneumatic power -- i.e. the power of pressurized air! But the state charter only gave him permission to build a pneumatic tube to deliver mail, not people. That didn't stop Beach, who began construction of his extraordinary device literally within sight of City Hall.  How did Beach build such an ambitious project under secretive circumstances? What was it like to ride a pneumatic passenger car?  And why don't we have pneumatic power operating our subways today? FEATURING: Boss Tweed at his most bossiness, piano tunes under Broadway and something called a centrifugal bowling alley!
June 10, 2016
Before New York, before New Amsterdam – there was Lenapehoking, the land of the Lenape, the original inhabitants of the places we call Manhattan, Westchester, northern New Jersey and western Long Island.  This is the story of their first contact with European explorers and settlers and their gradual banishment from their ancestral land. Fur trading changed the lifestyles of the Lenape well before any permanent European settlers stepped foot in this region. Early explorers had a series of mostly positive experiences with early native people.  With the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, the Lenape entered into various land deals, ‘selling’ the land of Manhattan at a location in the area of today’s Inwood Hill Park. But relations between New Amsterdam and the surrounding native population worsened with the arrival of Director-General William Kieft, leading to bloody attacks and vicious reprisals, killing hundreds of Lenape and colonists alike. Peter Stuyvesant arrives to salvage the situation, but further attacks threatened any treaties of peace.  But the time of English occupation, the Lenape were decimated and without their land. And yet, descendants of the Lenape live on today in various parts of the United States and Canada.  All that and more in this tragic but important tale of New York City history.   (My apologies for messing up the pronunciation of the word Wickquasgeck. And I was doing so well too! -- Greg)   www.boweryboyshistory.com
May 26, 2016
The young socialite Dorothy Arnold seemingly led a charmed and privileged life. The niece of a Supreme Court justice, Dorothy was the belle of 1900s New York, an attractive and vibrant young woman living on the Upper East Side with her family. She hoped to become a published magazine writer and perhaps someday live by herself in Greenwich Village. But on December 12, 1910, while running errands in the neighborhood of Madison Square Park, Dorothy Arnold -- simply vanished. In this investigative new podcast, we look at the circumstances surrounding her disappearance, from the mysterious clues left in her fireplace to the suspicious behavior exhibited by her family. This mystery captivated New Yorkers for decades as revelations and twists to the story continued to emerge. As one newspaper described it: "There is general agreement among police officials that the case is in a class by itself." ALSO: What secrets lurk in the infamous Pennsylvania "House of Mystery"? And could a sacred object found in Texas hold the key to solving the crime? www.boweryboyshistory.com
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