Cover image of The Bowery Boys: New York City History
(2057)

Rank #38 in History category

Society & Culture
History
Places & Travel

The Bowery Boys: New York City History

Updated 4 days ago

Rank #38 in History category

Society & Culture
History
Places & Travel
Read more

New York City history is America's history. It's the hometown of the world, and most people know the city's familiar landmarks, buildings and streets. Why not look a little closer and have fun while doing it?

Read more

New York City history is America's history. It's the hometown of the world, and most people know the city's familiar landmarks, buildings and streets. Why not look a little closer and have fun while doing it?

iTunes Ratings

2057 Ratings
Average Ratings
1670
272
55
36
24

Virtual history tour

By Moxxxxxccccxxxh - Nov 24 2019
Read more
Interesting little stories, real places, well-done

I enjoy it

By bigdadaism - Nov 07 2019
Read more
The house Jenny robs features a cameo by Scorsese . Come on guys

iTunes Ratings

2057 Ratings
Average Ratings
1670
272
55
36
24

Virtual history tour

By Moxxxxxccccxxxh - Nov 24 2019
Read more
Interesting little stories, real places, well-done

I enjoy it

By bigdadaism - Nov 07 2019
Read more
The house Jenny robs features a cameo by Scorsese . Come on guys

Listen to:

Cover image of The Bowery Boys: New York City History

The Bowery Boys: New York City History

Updated 4 days ago

Read more

New York City history is America's history. It's the hometown of the world, and most people know the city's familiar landmarks, buildings and streets. Why not look a little closer and have fun while doing it?

#100 Robert Moses

Podcast cover
Read more
EPISODE 100 We obviously had to spend our anniversary show with the Power Broker himself, everybody's favorite Parks Commissioner -- Robert Moses. A healthy debate about Moses will divide your friends, and we provide the resources to make your case for both sides. Robert Moses was one of the most powerful men in New York from the late 1920s until the late 1960s, using multiple appointed positions in state and local government to make his vast dream of a modern New York comes to fruition. That dream included glorious parkways and gravity-defying bridges. It also included parking lots and the wholesale destruction of thousands of homes. World's fairs and innovative housing complexes. Elevated highways plowed through residential neighborhoods -- straight through Harlem, midtown Manhattan, and SoHo.We get into the trenches of some of Moses's most renown and controversial projects -- the splendor of Jones Beach; the revolutionary parks and pools; the tragedy of the Cross Bronx Expressway, and his signature project, the Triborough Bridge. What side will you come down on -- did Robert Moses give New York City the resources it needs to excel in the 20th century, or did he hasten its demise with short-sighted, malignant vision?

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Mar 19 2010

1hr 7mins

Play

#29 Brooklyn Bridge

Podcast cover
Read more
The Bowery Boys explore the story and the family behind the Brooklyn Bridge, one of New York's most treasured landmarks -- caissons, anchorages and all.
www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Nov 18 2008

36mins

Play

#134 St. Patrick's Cathedral

Podcast cover
Read more
One of America's most famous churches and a graceful icon upon the landscape of midtown Manhattan, St. Patrick's Cathedral was also one of New York's most arduous building projects, taking decades to build. An overflow of worshippers at downtown's old St Patrick's demanded a vast new place of worship, even as most Catholic New Yorkers were having an uneasy time due to religious prejudice by angry 'nativists'.

Enter 'Dagger' John Hughes, the relentless first Archbishop of New York, who hammered the city for equal treatment for Catholics and managed to construct several New York institutions still in existence. Many scoffed at his idea of building a gigantic cathedral so far north of town.

We explore the early years of this once-quiet piece of mid-Manhattan property and some of the notable events that have taken place at St. Patrick's since its opening.

ALSO: The tale of the revered Haitian hairdresser in the crypt!

CORRECTION: Near the end of the podcast, I say that 'Godfather III' was filmed at St. Patricks. It was, but it's the OLD downtown St Pat's, not the Midtown. Sorry for the error!

Check out our blog www.boweryboypodcast.com
Twitter:  boweryboys

Support the show.

Feb 10 2012

46mins

Play

#109 New York City Subway, Part 1: Birth of the IRT

Podcast cover
Read more
In the fourth part of our transportation series BOWERY BOYS ON THE GO, we finally take a look at the birth of the New York City subway. After decades of outright avoiding underground transit as a legitimate option, the city got back on track with the help of August Belmont and the newly formed Interborough Rapid Transit. 
We'll tell you about the construction of the first line, traveling miles underground through Manhattan and into the Bronx. How did the city cope with this massive project? And what unfortunate accident nearly ripped apart a city block mere feet from Grand Central Station?
www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Aug 06 2010

48mins

Play

#54 The Creation of Central Park

Podcast cover
Read more
Come with us to the beginnings of New York's most popular and most ambitious park -- from the inkling of an idea to the arduous construction. Learn who got uprooted and find out who the park was REALLY intended for.
www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Sep 19 2008

30mins

Play

The Story of Brooklyn Heights

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 298: This is the first of a two-part celebration of Brooklyn Heights, a picturesque neighborhood of architectural wonder, situated on a plateau just south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

A stroll through Brooklyn Heights presents you with a unique collection of 19th century homes -- from wooden houses to brownstone mansions, all preserved thanks to the efforts of community activists in the 20th century.

But in this episode, we'll explain how they got here. And the answer can be found on almost any street sign in the neighborhood -- Pierrrepont, Hicks, Middagh, Remsen.

Those are more than just street names. Each sign traces back to an original landholder who developed this special place in the early 19th century.  In a way, the neighborhood tells its own story.

By then, the land once known as Clover Hill had seen its share of both tranquility and drama, the former site of a Revolutionary War fort and a crucial evening in the saga of the Revolutionary War.

But in the 19th century, most Americans knew Brooklyn Heights for more than just architecture and George Washington. This was the home to respected cultural institutions and to scores of churches, so many that the borough received a very spiritual nickname.

FEATURING: Henry Ward Beecher, Robert Fulton, the Marquis de Lafayette and, of course, the Lady Montague.

boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Sep 05 2019

58mins

Play

#135 The High Line

Podcast cover
Read more
The High Line, which snakes up New York's west side, is an ambitious park project refitting abandoned elevated train lines into a breathtaking contemporary park. This is the remnant of a raised freight-delivery track system that supported New York's thriving meat, produce and refrigeration industries that have defined the city's western edges.
You can trace the footprints of this area back almost 200 years, to the introduction of the Hudson River Railroad and Cornelius Vanderbilt, who transformed the streets along the Hudson River into 'the lifeline of New York', filled with warehouses, marketplaces and abattoirs. And, of course, lots of traffic, turning 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue into 'death avenues', requiring New York's first 'urban cowboys'.
The West Side Elevated Freight Railroad was meant to relieve some of trauma on the street. That's not exactly how it worked out. We'll tell you about its downfall, its transformation during the 70s as a haven for counter-culture, and its reinterpretation as an innovative urban playground. 

www.boweryboyspodcast.com
Twitter: boweryboys

Support the show.

Mar 09 2012

45mins

Play

#36 Life In British New York 1776-1783

Podcast cover
Read more
What was life like in New York during the British occupation during the Revolutionary War? Overcrowding, prison ships, food shortages, spies ... and theater?
www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Nov 29 2008

31mins

Play

#53 The Meatpacking District: Glamour and Gore

Podcast cover
Read more

How did the land surrounding an old 19th century fortress develop into the city's mainline distributor for produce and meat? And how did that once bustling place transform itself from the dilapidated home of leather bars and prostitutes to a hot spot of high fashion stores and boutique hotels? Welcome to the Meatpacking District, one of Manhattan's strangest neighborhoods. www.boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Sep 19 2008

15mins

Play

#59 Five Points: Wicked Slum

Podcast cover
Read more
You've heard the legend of New York's most notorious neighborhood. Now come with us as we hit the streets of Five Points and dig up some of the nitty, gritty details of its birth, its first residents and its
most scandalous pastimes.
www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Sep 19 2008

31mins

Play

The Rise of the Fifth Avenue Mansions

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 244: 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

Support the show.

Nov 24 2017

49mins

Play

#152 Bellevue Hospital

Podcast cover
Read more

Bellevue Hospital, you might have heard, once had a very notorious psychiatric ward. But those horror stories have only distracted from the rather breathtaking -- and heart-breaking -- history of this historic institution, a lifeline not only for the sick, but for the poor, the incarcerated, the abandoned -- even the dead!

The hospital traces its origins to a six-bed almshouse that once sat near the location of New York City Hall today. Despite its humble and (to the modern eye) confusing original purposes, the almshouse was miles better than the barbaric medical procedures of early New York, courtesy the ominous sounding 'barber-surgeons'. A series of yellow fever epidemics moved care for the sick to a former mansion called Belle Vue near Murray Hill -- and, in fact, with a strong connection to Murray himself! 

Soon the institution fulfilled a variety of roles and in rather ghastly conditions, from 'pest house' to execution ground, from a Pathological Museum to New York's first city morgue. A great many medical advances came from Bellevue, not least of which the origins of the modern ambulance. 

But some of that progress has been obscured by the reputation of the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital which opened in 1931 and 'hosted' a variety of famous people with disturbing issues. And in the 1980s, Bellevue would take on another grim role -- during the most distressing years of the AIDS crisis.


www.boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

May 31 2013

45mins

Play

#75 Williamsburg(h), Brooklyn

Podcast cover
Read more
Williamsburg used to have an H at the end of its name, not to mention dozens of major industries that once made it the tenth wealthiest place in the world. How did Williamsburgh become a haven for New York's most well-known factories and how did it then become the wildly diverse neighborhood it is today? Find out how its history connects with whalebones, baseball, beer, and medicine for intestinal worms.
www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Jan 30 2009

18mins

Play

#72 Rockefeller Center

Podcast cover
Read more
JD Rockefeller Sr. may have earned his money is some rather unscrupulous ways, but his son Junior made good by giving midtown a towering city-within-a-city, a complex of Art Deco buildings that serves as New York's beating heart. We take a compact look at the complicated lineage of Rockefeller Center, from its controversial artwork to its famous Christmas tree.

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Dec 19 2008

38mins

Play

#177 The Big History of Little Italy

Podcast cover
Read more
Little Italy is the pocket-neighborhood reminder of the great wave of Italian immigration which came through New York City starting in the late 1870s.  This was the home of a densely packed, lively neighborhood of pushcarts, cheese shops, barber shops and organ grinders, populated by thousands of new immigrants in dilapidated old tenements.
The area has some of New York's oldest still-operating shops, from Ferrara Bakery to Di Palo's.  But there's also a dark side to this neighborhood, memories of extortion plots by the Black Hand and a perpetual presence of organized crime.
The present-day Little Italy is completely charming but constantly shrinking. How long can the neighborhood survive in the face of a growing Chinatown and the threats of gentrification?
PLUS: Our love/hate relationship with Nolita -- REVEALED!
www.boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Feb 20 2015

51mins

Play

#86 Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall

Podcast cover
Read more
You cannot understand New York without understanding its most corrupt politician -- William 'Boss' Tweed, a larger than life personality with lofty ambitions to steal millions of dollars from the city. With the help of his 'Tweed Ring', the former chair-maker had complete control over the city -- what was being built, how much it would cost and who was being paid.
How do you bring down a corrupt government when it seems almost everybody's in on it? We reveal the downfall of the Tweed ring and the end to one of the biggest political scandal in New York history. It begins with a sleigh ride.
ALSO: Find out how Tammany Hall, the dominant political machine of the 19th century, got its start -- as a rather innocent social club that required men to dress up and pretend they're Indians.
www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Jul 02 2009

38mins

Play

#236 Times Square in the '70s

Podcast cover
Read more

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.

Support the show.

Sep 08 2017

1hr 3mins

Play

#121 Fraunces Tavern

Podcast cover
Read more
Fraunces Tavern is one of America's most important historical sites of the Revolutionary War and a reminder of the great importance of tavern culture on the New York way of life during the Colonial era. This revered building at the corner of Pearl and Broad streets was the location of George Washington's emotional farewell speech to his Continental Army officers and some of the very first government offices of the young United States of America.
As with places this famous -- where fact and legend intermingle -- many mysteries still remain, and we attempt to find some answers. Was the tavern owner Samuel Fraunces one of America's first great black patriots? Did Sam use his position here to spy upon the British during the years of occupation between 1776 and 1783? Was his daughter on hand to prevent an assassination attempt on the life of Washington? And is it possible that the basement of Fraunces Tavern once housed a dungeon?
ALSO: Learn about the two deadly attacks on Fraunces Tavern -- one by a British war vessel in the 1770s, and another, more violent act of terror that occurred in its doorway over 200 years later!

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Support the show.

Mar 18 2011

49mins

Play

#224 The Arrival of the Irish: An Immigrant Story

Podcast cover
Read more
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

Support the show.

Mar 16 2017

54mins

Play

#212 Bronx Trilogy (Part One) The Bronx Is Born

Podcast cover
Read more
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!

Support the show.

Sep 01 2016

54mins

Play

Christmas in New York: The Lights of Dyker Heights

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 305 There's a special kind of magic to Christmas in New York City, from that colossal Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center to the fanciful holiday displays in department store windows.

But in the past three decades, a new holiday tradition has grown in popularity and in a surprising quarter -- the quiet residential neighborhood of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn.

Every December many residents of this area of southwestern Brooklyn ornament their homes in a wild and brilliant parade of Christmas lights and decorations -- from gigantic animatronic Santas to armies of toy soldiers. This electrical spectacle draws thousands of tourists a year, attracted to this imaginative (and often mind-blowing) display of Christmas spirit.

In this episode, we look at the lights of Dyker Heights from a few angles. First we explore the history of Christmas lighting in New York City and how such displays, at first mere promotional uses of Edison lighting, brought Christmas into the secular public sphere.

Then we look at the history of Dyker Heights, tracing back to one of the first Dutch settlements and a neighborhood which has developed into a stable Italian community.

Finally, we send our researcher and producer Julia Press on an excursion into Dyker Heights to reveal the origin of the Christmas display extravaganza. Featuring an interview with one of the residents who started it all!

boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Dec 12 2019

50mins

Play

The Miracle on Eldridge Street

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 304: The Eldridge Street Synagogue is one of the most beautifully restored places in the United States, a testament to the value of preserving history when it seems all is lost to ruin.

Today the Museum at Eldridge Street maintains the synagogue, built in 1887 as one of the first houses of worship in the country for Eastern European orthodox Jews. The Moorish revival synagogue, adorned in symbolic decoration and sumptuous stained glass, reflected the Gilded Age opulence of the day while keeping true to the spirit of the Jewish faith.

But by the 1950s, most of the Lower East Side's Jewish population had left for other districts, and the remaining congregation sealed off its beautiful sanctuary. For decades, it was hidden from all eyes, the ruinous space left to the ravages of deterioration. "Pigeons roosted in the balcony, benches were covered with dust, and stained glass windows had warped with time."

However, thanks to a handful of determined preservationists, this capsule of Jewish American life in the late 19th century has not only been restored, but even elevated to a new height. The Museum at Eldridge Street is not only a celebration of Jewish American culture, but a breathtaking tribute to the power of preservation.

PLUS: We discuss the birth of Jewish New York and how the city's growth directly changed the way Jewish Americans worshiped in the 19th century. Did you know that evidence of New York's very first Jewish congregation sits just a couple blocks from the foot of Eldridge Street?

boweryboyshistory.com

And support the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast on Patreon to receive our NEW after-show conversation called THE TAKEOUT. In this week’s episode, Greg explores the history of another Lower East Side synagogue – one that suffered a less glorious fate – while Tom shares an additional scene from our interview at the synagogue.

Support the show.

Nov 28 2019

1hr 5mins

Play

Building Stuyvesant Town: A Mid-Century Controversy

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 303: The residential complexes Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, built in the late 1940s, incorporating thousands of apartments within a manicured "campus" on the east side, seemed to provide the perfect solution for New York City's 20th century housing woes.

For Robert Moses, it provided a reason to clear out an unpleasant neighborhood of dilapidated tenements and filthy gas tanks. For the insurance company Metropolitan Life, the city's partner in constructing these complexes, it represented both a profit opportunity and a way to improve the lives of middle class New Yorkers. It would be a home for returning World War II veterans and a new mode of living for young families.

As long as you were white.

In the spring of 1943, just a day before the project was approved by the city, Met Life's president Frederick H. Ecker brazenly declared their housing policy: "Negros and whites don’t mix. Perhaps they will in a hundred years, but not now.” 

What followed was a nine year battle, centered in the 'walled fortress' of Stuy Town, against deeply ingrained housing discrimination policies in New York City. African-American activists waged a legal battle against Met Life, representing veterans returning from the battlefields of World War II. 

But some of the loudest cries of resistance came from the residents of Stuy Town itself, waging a war from their very homes against racial discrimination.

boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Nov 15 2019

1hr 2mins

Play

Gangs of New York (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 302: With Martin Scorsese's new film The Irishman being released this month, we thought we'd share with you an episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club that explores the director's film Gangs of New York and its rich historical details. The Bowery Boys Movie Club is an exclusive podcast for those who support us on Patreon.

Gangs of New York is a one-of-a-kind film, Scorsese's 2002 epic based on a 1927 history anthology by Herbert Asbury that celebrates the grit and grime of Old New York.

Its fictional story line uses a mix of real-life and imagined characters, summoned from a grab bag of historical anecdotes from the gutters of the 19th century and poured out into a setting known as New York City’s most notorious neighborhood — Five Points.

Listen in as Greg and Tom discuss the film’s unique blend of fact and fiction, taking Asbury’s already distorted view of life in the mid 19th century and reviving it with extraordinary set design and art direction. The film itself was released a year after September 11, 2001, and the final cut should be looked at in that context.

Meanwhile some elements of the film are more relevant in 2019 than ever.

Should you watch the movie before you listen to this episode? This podcast can be enjoyed both by those who have seen the film and those who’ve never even heard of it. 

We think our take on Gangs of New York might inspire you to look for the film’s many fascinating (but easy to overlook) historical details, so if you don’t mind being spoiled on the plot, give it a listen first, then watch the movie! Otherwise, come back to the show after you’ve watched it. 

If you’d like to watch the movie first, it’s currently streaming on iTunes and Amazon. Or rent it from your local library.

boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Nov 01 2019

1hr 20mins

Play

Haunted Houses of Old New York

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 301: Welcome to the unlucky 13th Annual Bowery Boys ghost stories podcast, where history combines with folklore for a bone-chilling listening experience.

In this year's Halloween-themed special, Greg and Tom take you into some truly haunted private residences from throughout New York City history. These rowhouses, brownstones and mansion all have one thing in common -- stories of restless spirits who refuse to leave.

-- Near Madison Square Park in Manhattan, an eccentric writer posts a classified ad, hoping to rent out an attic room to a prospective subletter. Unfortunately the room already an occupant -- a greenish ghost with a troubling Civil War history.

-- The Conference House in Staten Island played an interesting role in the Revolutionary War, and some residents from that period may still wander its ancient hallways.

-- On the Upper East Side, a lavish penthouse ballroom may be permanently vexed with the ghost of a testy spirit named Mrs. Spencer. Can a legendary funny lady and a Vodou priestess manage to keep the ghoul under control?

And for the first time in Bowery Boys ghost-stories history, Greg and Tom record a segment of the show -- from within an actual haunted house. Merchant's House docent Carl Raymond joins them for a close look at the life of Gertrude Tredwell and the rooms where she lived and died -- and may, to this very day, haunt.

boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Oct 17 2019

1hr 11mins

Play

The Forgotten Father of New York City

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 300: Andrew Haswell Green helped build Central Park and much of upper Manhattan, oversaw the formation of the New York Public Library, helped found great institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Bronx Zoo, and even organized the city's first significant historical preservation group, saving New York City Hall from demolition. 

This smart, frugal and unassuming bachelor, an attorney and financial whiz, was critical in taking down William Tweed and the Tweed Ring during the early 1870s, helping to bail out a financially strapped government. 

But Green's greatest achievement -- championing the consolidation of the cities of New York and Brooklyn with communities in Richmond County (Staten Island), Westchester County (the Bronx) and Queens County (Queens) -- would create the City of Greater New York, just in time for the dawn of the 20th century. 

Kenneth T. Jackson, editor of the Encyclopedia of New York, called Green "arguably the most important leader in Gotham's long history, more important than Peter Stuyvesant, Alexander Hamilton, Frederick Law Olmsted, Robert Moses and Fiorello La Guardia.''

So why is he virtually forgotten today? "Today not one New Yorker in 10,000 has heard of Andrew Haswell Green," wrote the New York Daily News in 2003.

In our 300th episode, we're delighted to bring you the story of Mr. Green, a public servant who worked to improve the city for over five decades. And we'll be joined by an ardent Green advocate -- former Manhattan Borough Historian Michael Miscione.

Support the show.

Oct 04 2019

1hr 13mins

Play

The Promenade and Preservation of Brooklyn Heights

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 299: Part Two of our series on the history of Brooklyn Heights, one of New York City's oldest neighborhoods.

By the 1880s, Brooklyn Heights had evolved from America's first suburb into the City of Brooklyn's most exclusive neighborhood, a tree-lined destination of fine architecture and glorious institutions.

The Heights would go on a roller-coaster ride with the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge and the transformation of Brooklyn into a borough of Greater New York. The old-money wealthy classes would leave, and the stately homes would be carved into multi-family dwellings and boarding houses.

The new subway would bring the bohemians of Greenwich Village into Brooklyn Heights, transforming it into an artist enclave for most of the century. But even with addition of trendy hotels and the Brooklyn Dodgers (whose front office was located here), the Heights faced an uncertain future.

When Robert Moses began planning his Brooklyn Queens Expressway in the 1940s, he planned a route that would sever Brooklyn Heights and obliterate many of its most spectacular homes. It would take a devoted community and some very clever ideas to re-route that highway and cover it with something extraordinary -- a Promenade, allowing all New Yorkers to enjoy the exceptional views of New York Harbor.

This drama only served to highlight the value and unique nature of Brooklyn Heights and its extraordinary architecture, leading New York to designate the former tranquil suburb on a plateau into the city's first historic district.

FEATURING: Truman Capote, Jackie Robinson, Gypsy Rose Lee, St. Ann's Warehouse, Matt Damon and the Jehovah's Witnesses!

Support the show.

Sep 19 2019

59mins

Play

The Story of Brooklyn Heights

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 298: This is the first of a two-part celebration of Brooklyn Heights, a picturesque neighborhood of architectural wonder, situated on a plateau just south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

A stroll through Brooklyn Heights presents you with a unique collection of 19th century homes -- from wooden houses to brownstone mansions, all preserved thanks to the efforts of community activists in the 20th century.

But in this episode, we'll explain how they got here. And the answer can be found on almost any street sign in the neighborhood -- Pierrrepont, Hicks, Middagh, Remsen.

Those are more than just street names. Each sign traces back to an original landholder who developed this special place in the early 19th century.  In a way, the neighborhood tells its own story.

By then, the land once known as Clover Hill had seen its share of both tranquility and drama, the former site of a Revolutionary War fort and a crucial evening in the saga of the Revolutionary War.

But in the 19th century, most Americans knew Brooklyn Heights for more than just architecture and George Washington. This was the home to respected cultural institutions and to scores of churches, so many that the borough received a very spiritual nickname.

FEATURING: Henry Ward Beecher, Robert Fulton, the Marquis de Lafayette and, of course, the Lady Montague.

boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Sep 05 2019

58mins

Play

Dr. Hosack's Enchanted Garden: Botany, Medicine, and Discovery in Old New York

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 297: Dr. David Hosack was no ordinary doctor in early 19th-century New York. His patients included some of the city’s most notable citizens, including Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, both of whom he counted as close friends -- and both of whom agreed to bring him along to their fateful duel.

But it was Dr. Hosack’s love and appreciation for the field of botany that would eventually make him famous in his time. In 1801 he opened his Elgin Botanic Garden on 20 acres of land located three miles north of the city on Manhattan Island.

In this first public botanical garden in the country, Hosack would spend a decade planting one of the most extraordinary collections of medicinal plants, along with native and exotic plants that could further the young nation’s agriculture and manufacturing industries. 

And yet, he also spent a decade looking for funding for this important project, and for validation that this kind of work was even important. 

In this episode we discuss Hosack’s life and surprising legacy with Victoria Johnson, author of the 2018 book, “American Eden, David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic,” a New York Times Notable Book of 2018, a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Nonfiction, and a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History.

Support the show.

Aug 23 2019

1hr 11mins

Play

Introducing Mob Queens

Podcast cover
Read more

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.

Support the show.

Aug 19 2019

6mins

Play

Talking Trash: The NYC Department of Sanitation

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 296: Picture New York City under mountains of filth, heaving from clogged gutters and overflowing from trash cans. Imagine the unbearable smell of rotting food and animal corpses left on the curb. And what about snow, piled up and unshoveled, leaving roads entirely unnavigable?

This was New York City in the mid-19th century, a place growing faster than city officials could control. It seemed impossible to keep clean. 

In this 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 this challenging humanitarian crisis.

Along the way, we'll stop at some of the more, um, pungent landmarks of New York City history -- the trash heaps of Riker's Island, the mountainous Corona Ash Dump, and the massive Fresh Kills Landfill.

PLUS: We'll be joined by two special guests to help us understand the issues surrounding New York City sanitation in the 21st century:

Robin Nagle is a Clinical Professor at NYU and the Anthropologist in Residence for New York City’s Department of Sanitation, and the author of "Picking Up - On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City".

Maggie Lee is the records management officer in the Sanitation Department, and also serves as the deputy director for Museum Planning for the Foundation for New York’s Strongest. She has helped organize “What is Here is Open: Selections from the Treasures in the Trash Collection” -- an art show centered around pieces thrown out with the trash, which is currently running at the Hunter East Harlem Gallery at 119th and 3rd Avenue through September 14, 2019.

Support the show.

Aug 09 2019

1hr 10mins

Play

Saving the City: Women of the Progressive Era

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 295: This is a podcast about kindness and care. About the Progressive Era pioneers who saved the lives of people in need -- from the Lower East Side to Washington Heights, from Hell's Kitchen to Fort Greene.

Within just a few decades – between the 1880s and the 1920s – so much social change occurred within American life, upending so many cultural norms and advancing so many important social issues, that these years became known as the Progressive Era. And at the forefront of many of these changes were women.

In this show, Greg visits two important New York City social landmarks of this era -- Henry Street Settlement, founded by Lillian Wald in the Lower East Side, and the Cabrini Shrine, where Mother Frances X. Cabrini continued her work with New York's Italian American population.

Then he pays a visit to the Brooklyn Historical Society and their exhibition Taking Care of Brooklyn: Stories of Sickness and Health, featuring artifacts from the borough's surprising connection to medical and social innovation -- from settlement houses to the birth control revolution advocated by Margaret Sanger.

If you have ancestors who came through New York City during 1880s through the 1920s, most likely they came into contact with the efforts of some of the women featured in this show. From the White Rose Mission, providing help for young black women, to the life-saving investigations of 'Dr. Joe' aka Sara Josephine Baker, leading the city's fight for improvements to public health.

Greg is joined by several wonderful guests helping to tell this story, including Tanya Bielski-Braham (currently of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh), Beckett Graham (of the History Chicks podcast), Julie Golia (Vice President for Curatorial Affairs and Collections at the Brooklyn Historical Society), Cherie Sprosty (director of liturgy at the Cabrini Shrine) and Katie Vogel (public historian at the Henry Street Settlement). 

boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Jul 25 2019

59mins

Play

That Daredevil Steve Brodie, 'King of the Bowery'

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 294: A tale of the 'sporting life' of the Bowery from the 1870s and 80s. A former newsboy named Steve Brodie grabs the country's attention by leaping off the Brooklyn Bridge on July 23, 1886. Or did he?

The story of Steve Brodie has all the ingredients of a Horatio Alger story. He worked the streets as a newsboy when he was very young, fighting the bullies (often his own brothers) to become one of the most respected newsies in Manhattan.

He experienced his first taste of adulation and respect as a minor sports celebrity, participating in pedestrian competitions across the country. Back in New York, Brodie started a family and promptly lost most of his money at the race track. He yearned to do something athletic and attention grabbing again.

The Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883, was a crowning architectural jewel linking two major cities; Brodie witnessed much of its construction during afternoons diving from East River docks. He now proposed an outrageous stunt that would garner him instant fame and fortune.

He would jump off the Brooklyn Bridge!

Was Steve Brodie a hero or a fool? A daredevil or a con artist? His story provides a window into the 'sporting men' life of the Bowery and a look into what may possibly be the greatest hoax of the Gilded Age.

boweryboyshistory.com

Our thanks to Grant Barrett of A Way With Words

Featuring clips from the 1933 film The Bowery, the 1949 Warner Brothers cartoon Bowery Bugs and the 1958 recording of "The Bowery" by Billy Randolph & The High Hatters

Support the show.

Jul 11 2019

49mins

Play

Secret Places of Upper Manhattan

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 293: In Washington Heights and Inwood, the two Manhattan neighborhoods above West 155th Street, the New York grid plan begins to become irrelevant, with avenues and streets preferring to conform to northern Manhattan's more rugged terrain. As a result, one can find aspects of nearly 400 years of New York City history here -- along a secluded waterfront or tucked high upon a shaded hill.

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. 

-- A picturesque cemetery -- the final resting place for mayors, writers and scandal makers -- split in two;

-- An aging farmhouse once linked to New York's only surviving natural forest with a Revolutionary secret in its backyard;

-- A Roman-inspired waterway that once provided a vital link to New York City's survival;

-- And a tiny lighthouse, overwhelmed by a great bridge and saved by a strange twist of fame.

For those who live and work in Washington Heights and Inwood, these historic landmarks will be familiar to you. For everybody else, prepare for a new list of mysterious landmarks and fascinating places to explore this summer.

And that's just the beginning! Upper Manhattan holds a host of fascinating, awe-inspiring sites of historical and cultural interest. After you listen to this episode, check out our article on the Bowery Boys website entitled Secret Places of Upper Manhattan: Twenty remarkable historic sites in Washington Heights and Inwood.

Boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

Jun 28 2019

1hr 11mins

Play

Sip-In At Julius': Gay New York In The 1960s

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 292: This month New York City (and the world) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a combative altercation between police and bar patrons at the Stonewall Inn in the West Village, an event that gave rise to the modern LGBT movement.

But in a way, the Stonewall Riots were simply the start of a new chapter for the gay rights movement. The road leading to Stonewall is often glossed over or forgotten.

By the 1960s, a lively gay scene that traced back to the 19th century -- drag balls! lesbian teahouses! -- had been effectively buried or concealed by decades of cultural and legal oppression.

A few brave individuals, however, were tired of living in the shadows.

In this episode, we’ll be zeroing in on the efforts of a handful of young New Yorkers who, in 1966, took a page from the civil rights movement to stage an unusual demonstration in a small bar in the West Village. This little event, called the Sip-In at Julius', was a tiny but significant step towards the fair treatment of gay and lesbians in the United States.

IN ADDITION: We'll be joined by Hugh Ryan, author of When Brooklyn Was Queer, to talk about the forgotten lives of LGBT people in the ever-changing borough of Brooklyn.

Visit our website for photographs and more details -- boweryboyshistory.com

This episode features an audio interview clip from the podcast Making Gay History, as well as a musical clip of 'I Hear A Symphony' by The Supremes (Motown).

Special thanks to our sponsor this week -- Flatiron School.

Support the show.

Jun 13 2019

1hr 4mins

Play

The Tombs: Five Points' Notorious House of Detention

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 291: Some might find it strange that the Manhattan Detention Complex -- one of New York City's municipal jails -- should be located next to the bustling neighborhoods of Chinatown and Little Italy. Stranger still is its ominous nickname -- "The Tombs".

Near this very spot -- more than 180 years ago -- stood another imposing structure, a massive jail in the style of an Egyptian mausoleum, casting its dark shadow over a district that would become known as Five Points, the most notorious 19th-century neighborhood in New York City.

Both Five Points and the original Tombs (officially "New York City Halls of Justice and House of Detention") was built upon the spot of old Collect Pond, an old fresh-water pond that was never quite erased from the city's map when it was drained via a canal -- along today's Canal Street. 

But the foreboding reputation of the Tombs comes from more than sinking foundations and cracked walls. For more than six decades, thousands of people were kept here -- murderers, pickpockets, vagrants, and many more who had committed no crimes at all. 

And there would be a few unfortunates who would never leave the confines of this place. For the Tombs contained a gallows, where some of the worst criminals in the United States were executed. 

Other jails would replace this building in the 20th century, but none would shake off the grim nickname.

Boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

May 31 2019

56mins

Play

Bagels: A New York Story

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 290: 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

Support the show.

May 16 2019

59mins

Play

Blood and Shakespeare: The Astor Place Riot of 1849

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 289: In old New York, one hundred and seventy years ago, a theatrical rivalry between two leading actors of the day sparked a terrible night of violence — one of the most horrible moments in New York City history.

England’s great thespian William Macready mounted the stage of the Astor Place Opera House on May 10, 1849, to perform Shakespeare’s Macbeth, just as he had done hundreds of times before. But this performance would become infamous in later years as the trigger for one of New York City’s most violent events — the Astor Place Riot.

Macready, known as one of the world’s greatest Shakespearean stars, was soon rivaled by American actor Edwin Forrest, whose brawny, ragged style of performance endeared the audiences of the Bowery. To many, these two actors embodied many of America’s deepest divides — rich vs. poor, British vs. American, Whig vs. Democrat.

On May 10th, these emotions overflowed into an evening of chaotic bloodshed as armed militia shot indiscriminately into an angry mob gathering outside the theater at Astor Place. By the next morning, over two dozen New Yorkers would be murdered, dozens more wounded, and the culture of the city irrevocably changed.

boweryboyshistory.com

Support the show.

May 02 2019

55mins

Play

The World of Tomorrow: The New York World's Fair of 1939

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 288: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the fourth largest park in New York City and the pride of northern Queens, has twice been the gateway to the future.

Two world's fairs have been held here, twenty-five years apart, both carefully guided by power broker Robert Moses. In this episode, we highlight the story of the first fair, held in 1939 and 1940, a visionary festival of patriotism and technological progress that earnestly sold a narrow view of American middle-class aspirations.

It was the World of Tomorrow! (Never mind the protests or the fact that many of the venues were incomplete.) A kitschy campus of themed zones and wacky architectural wonders, the fair provided visitors with speculative ideas of the future, governed by clean suburban landscapes, space-age appliances and flirtatious smoking robots. 

The fair was a post-Depression excuse for corporations to rewrite the American lifestyle, introducing new inventions (television) and attractive new products (automobiles, refrigerators), all presented in dazzling venues along gleaming flag-lined avenues and courtyards.

But the year was 1939 and the world of tomorrow could not keep out the world of today. The Hall of Nations almost immediately bore evidence of the mounting war in Europe. Visitors who didn't fit the white middle-American profile being sold at the fair found themselves excluded from the "future" it was trying to sell. 

And then, in July of 1940, there was a dreadful tragedy at the British Pavilion that proved the World of Tomorrow was still very much a part of the world of today.

Support the show.

Apr 19 2019

1hr 4mins

Play

Greenwich Village in the 1960s

Podcast cover
Read more

EPISODE 287: This is the story of Greenwich Village as a character -- an eccentric character maybe, but one that changed American life -- and how the folky, activist spirit it fostered in arts, culture and the protest movement came back in the end to help itself.

This April we're marking the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Historic District designation from 1969 -- preserving one of the most important and historic neighborhoods in New York -- and to mark the occasion we are celebrating the revolutionary scene (and the revolutionary moment) that gave birth to it -- the Greenwich Village of the 1960s.

The Village is the stuff of legends: a hotbed of musicians, artists, performers, intellectuals, activists. In the 1950s, people often defined Greenwich Village as a literal village with a small-town atmosphere.

Nobody was saying that about the Village in the 1960s. In just a few years, the neighborhood's community of artists and creators would help to define American culture. The Village was world famous.

This episode will present a little walk through Greenwich Village in the early '60s, giving you the flavor of the Village during the era -- and an ample sampling of its sights and sounds.

There's gonna be mandolins! And chess players. And avant garde theater. And art markets. And lots of coffeeshops. *snap* *snap*

But we're also talking preservation with Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation, to learn how the Greenwich Village Historic District came to be.

boweryboyshistory.com

gvshp.org

Support the show.

Apr 04 2019

1hr 9mins

Play