The Bowery Boys: New York City History

Bowery Boys Media

The tides of American history lead through the streets of New York City — from the huddled masses on Ellis Island to the sleazy theaters of 1970s Times Square. The elevated railroad to the Underground Railroad. Hamilton to Hammerstein! Greg and Tom explore more than 400 years of action-packed stories, featuring both classic and forgotten figures who have shaped the world. 

All Episodes

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has brought joy and sparkle to Midtown Manhattan since the early 1930s. The annual festivities may seem steady and timeless but this holiday icon actually has a surprisingly dramatic history.  Millions tune in each year to watch the tree lighting in a music-filled ceremony on NBC, and tens of thousands more will crowd around the tree's massive branches during the holiday season, adjusting their phones for that perfect holiday selfie. But the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is more than just decor. The tree has reflected the mood of the United States itself -- through good times and bad.  The first tree at this site in 1931 became a symbol of hope during the Great Depression. With the dedication of the first official Christmas tree two years later, the lighting ceremony was considered a stroke of marketing genius for the grand new "city within a city" funded by JD Rockefeller Jr.. The tree has also been an enduring television star -- from the early years in the 1950s with Howdy Doody to its upgrade to prime time in the 1990s.  Join Greg for this festive holiday history featuring kaleidoscopic lighting displays, painted branches, whirling snowflakes, reindeer and a very tiny owl. boweryboyshistory.com If you like what you hear, please rate and review our show on Apple Podcasts. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 1

43 min 11 sec

Presenting a new history podcast produced by Tom Meyers and Greg Young from the Bowery Boys: New York City History. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, The Age of Innocence or Upstairs Downstairs, then we know The Gilded Gentleman podcast will be your cup of tea. You’re cordially invited to join social and culinary historian Carl Raymond for a look behind the velvet curtains of America’s Gilded Age, Paris’ Belle Époque and England’s Victorian and Edwardian eras. The food, the music, the architecture -- the scandals! The first two episodes arrive promptly on December 7.  Please RSVP by subscribing to The Gilded Gentleman wherever you get your podcasts -- so you don't miss an episode.      Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 25

2 min 9 sec

Presenting a history of the Bowery in the 20th century when this street became known as the most notorious place in America. And the stories of the lonely and desperate men whose experiences have been mostly forgotten. From the moment that elevated train went up in 1878, the historic Bowery became a street of deteriorating fortunes. And by the 1940s, things had gotten so bad that the Bowery had taken on the nickname Skid Row. For decades it had become the last resort for men down on their luck, filling the flophouses and the cheap gin mills. For most of the people who found themselves here, these were not the ‘good ole days’. The only thing holding the Bowery back from total ruin were the rescue missions which began sprouting up here in the late 19th century, providing food and shelter for tens of thousands of people. The most renown of these places was the Bowery Mission which was founded in 1879. And is still, believe it or not, on the Bowery. Performing pretty much the same function as it did over 140 years ago. Greg and Tom take you through the dramatic history of the Bowery, then pay a visit to Jason Storbakken at the Bowery Mission to get a look at the rescue mission's current challenges and surprising struggles. boweryboyshistory.com If you like what you hear, please rate and review our show on Apple Podcasts. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 18

1 hr 4 min

November 24, 1966. Millions of spectators flood Broadway in New York City to watch the Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning. The iconic floats – Superman, Popeye, Smokey the Bear – are set against a sky that can only be described as noxious. A smog of pollutants is trapped over New York City, and it will ultimately kill nearly 200 people. How did the 1966 Thanksgiving Smog help usher in a new era of environmental protection? And how have we been thinking about environmental disasters all wrong? This episode comes from one of our favorite podcasts HISTORY This Week from the History Channel. You can listen to more episodes of HISTORY This Week on Apple Podcasts  Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 12

23 min 53 sec

The thrilling tale of a classic heist from the Gilded Age, perpetrated by a host of wicked and colorful characters from New York's criminal underworld. Jesse James and Butch Cassidy may be more infamous as American bank robbers, but neither could match the skill or the audacity of George Leonidas Leslie, a mastermind known in his day as the "King of the Bank Robbers". On October 27, 1878, Leslie's gang broke into the Manhattan Savings Institution and stole almost $3 million in cash and securities (about $71 million in today's money), making it one of the greatest bank robberies in American history.   This epic heist, which took three years to plan, was only the greatest in a string of high-profile robberies planned by Leslie and perpetrated by a rogue's gallery of New York thieves and "fences". Many details of the crime remain a mystery, and the legend of Leslie has been immortalized -- with some mixture of truth and fiction -- in Herbert Asbury's classic The Gangs of New York.  Who was this suave and mysterious Leslie? And how do you actually go about breaking into a bank in the 1870s? (Hint: Make sure you have a "little joker" handy.) boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 5

51 min 54 sec

What are the greatest ghost stories and haunted legends in New York City history? Since 2007 -- every October for fourteen years -- the Bowery Boys podcast has shared the city's most notorious and frightening ghost stories and urban legends. Over fifty-five stories and counting -- from malevolent wraiths who walk the avenues to strange spirits forever at home in some of New York's greatest landmarks. So for this 15th annual Bowery Boys Halloween ghost story podcast, Greg and Tom taking a look back at their favorites (and yours), the tales which have stayed with us -- which have possessed us -- like a persistent phantom who refuses to leave. Featuring: -- The Brooklyn poltergeist at the heart of an unsolved 19th century mystery -- A haunted Hell's Kitchen townhouse tormented by a ravenous spirit -- An historic tavern with a very famous, very randy ghost -- A famous apartment building with mysterious people who walk through walls AND Greg and Tom re-visit and re-tell their favorite ghost story from their very first podcast. Does Olive Thomas still haunt the New Amsterdam Theatre? Visit the website for a list of all the Bowery Boys ghost story podcasts and a map of all the haunted locations in the city.  Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 21

1 hr 11 min

The following podcast may look like the history of New York City cemeteries -- from the early churchyards of the Colonial era to the monument-filled rural cemeteries of Brooklyn and Queens. But it's much more than that! This is a story about New York City itself, a tale of real estate, urban growth, class and racial disparity, superstition and architecture. Cemeteries and burial grounds in New York City are everywhere -- although by design we often don’t see them or interact with them in daily life. You see them while strolling late night through the East Village or out your taxi window headed to LaGuardia Airport. Some of your favorite parks were even developed upon the sites of old potter’s fields. Why are there so many cemeteries on the border of the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens? Why are 19th century mausoleums and tombstones so fabulously ornate? And why are there so many old burial grounds next to tenements and apartment buildings in Greenwich Village?  Featuring four tales from New York City history, illustrating the unusual relationship between cemeteries and urban areas. -- The Doctor's Riot of 1788 -- The tragic monument of Charlotte Canda -- The shocking grave robbery of a prominent New Yorker -- The remarkable discovery in 1991 of a long-forgotten burial ground boweryboyshistory.com If you like the show, please rate and review on Apple Podcasts. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 8

1 hr 2 min

There's no business like show business -- thanks to Lee, Sam and J.J. Shubert, the Syracuse brothers who forever changed the American theatrical business in the 20th century.  At last Broadway is back! And the marquees of New York's theater district are again glowing with the excitement of live entertainment.  And many of these theaters were built and operated by the Shubert Brothers, impresarios who helped shape the physical nature of the Broadway theater district itself, creating the close cluster of stages that give Times Square its energy and glamour.  In this show, we'll be visiting the dawn of Times Square itself and the evolution of the American musical -- from coy operettas and flirty song-filled revues filled with chorus girls.  The Shuberts were there almost from the beginning. After fending off their rivals (namely the Syndicate), the Shuberts centered their empire around an alleyway that would quickly take their name -- Shubert Alley. They were innovative and they were ruthless, generous and often cruel (especially to each other). During the 1950s and 60s, the Shubert empire almost crumbled -- only to rise again in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to A Chorus Line and some very musical felines. FEATURING A visit to the Shubert Archive above the Lyceum Theatre, a magical trove of historical items from the American stage.  boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 24

1 hr 13 min

On the occasion of the 245th anniversary of the Revolutionary War in New York City, we revisit the story of the Great Fire of 1776, the drumbeat of war leading up to the disaster, and the tragic story of the American patriot Nathan Hale. This is a reedited, remastered version of an episode that we recorded in 2015. A little after midnight on September 21, 1776, the Fighting Cocks Tavern on Whitehall Street caught on fire. The drunken revelers inside the tavern were unable to stop the blaze, and it soon raged into a dangerous inferno, spreading up the west side of Manhattan. Some reports state that the fire started accidentally in the tavern fireplace. But was it actually set on purpose -- on the orders of George Washington? Meanwhile, underneath this sinister story is another, smaller drama -- that of a young man on a spy mission, sent by Washington into enemy territory. His name was Nathan Hale, and his fate would intersect with the disastrous events of that perilous night. PLUS: The legacy of St. Paul's Chapel, a lasting reminder not only of the Great Fire of 1776 but of an even greater disaster which occurred almost exactly 225 years later. boweryboyshistory.com If you like the show, please rate and review on Apple Podcasts. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 17

47 min 5 sec

Just south of the World Trade Center district sits the location of a forgotten Manhattan immigrant community. Curious outsiders called it "Little Syria" although the residents themselves would have known it as the Syrian Colony. Starting in the 1880s people from the Middle East began arriving at New York's immigrant processing station -- immigrants from Greater Syria which at that time was a part of the Ottoman Empire.  The Syrians of Old New York were mostly Christians who brought their trades, culture and cuisine to the streets of lower Manhattan. And many headed over to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn as well, creating another district for Middle Eastern American culture which would outlast the older Manhattan area. Who were these Syrian immigrants who made their home here in New York? Why did they arrive? What were their lives like? And although Little Syria truly is long gone, what buildings remain of this extraordinary district? PLUS: A visit to Sahadi's, a fine food shop that anchors today's remaining Middle Eastern scene in Brooklyn. Greg and Tom head to their warehouse in Sunset Park to get some insight on the shop's historic connections to the first Syrian immigrants.  boweryboyshistory.com Join the Bowery Boys Podcast on Patreon for extra audio features, access to cool merchandise and early access to tickets for live events.  Please considerwriting a review of our podcast on Apple Podcasts. Brand new reviews are useful in getting the show more visibility. We greatly appreciate it.     Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 10

1 hr 1 min

By the time Audrey Munson turned 25 years old, she had became a muse for some of the most famous artists in America, the busiest artist’s model of her day, She was such a fixture of the Greenwich Village art world in the early 20th century that she was called the Venus of Washington Square, although by 1913 the press had given her a grander nickname — Miss Manhattan. Her face and figure adorned public sculpture and museum masterpieces. And they do to this day.  But just a few years after working with these great artists, Audrey Munson disappeared from the New York art world, caught up in a murder scandal that would unfairly ruin her reputation.  And on her 40th birthday she would be locked away forever.  boweryboyshistory.com Join the Bowery Boys Podcast on Patreon for extra audio features, access to cool merchandise and early access to tickets for live events.  Please considerwriting a review of our podcast on Apple Podcasts. Brand new reviews are useful in getting the show more visibility. We greatly appreciate it.   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 27

39 min 57 sec

When it opened in 1919, the Hotel Pennsylvania was the largest hotel in the world. Over a hundred years later, its fate remains uncertain. Is it too big to save? After the Pennsylvania Railroad completed its colossal Pennsylvania Station in 1910, the railroad quickly realized it would need a companion hotel equal to the station's exquisite grandeur. And it would need an uncommonly ambitious hotelier to operate it. Enter E.M. Statler, the hotel king who made his name at American World's Fairs and brought sophisticated new ideas to this exceptional hotel geared towards middle-class and business travelers. But the Hotel Pennsylvania would have another claim to fame during the Swing Era. Its restaurants and ballrooms -- particularly the Café Rouge  -- would feature some of the greatest names of the Big Band Era. Glenn Miller played the Cafe Rouge many times at the height of his orchestra's fame. He was so associated with the hotel that one of his biggest hits is a tribute -- "Pennsylvania 6-5000." The hotel outlived the demolition of the original Penn Station, but it currently sits empty and faces imminent demolition thanks to an ambitious new plan to rehabilitate the neighborhood. What will be the fate of this landmark to music history? Is this truly the last dance for the Hotel Pennsylvania? boweryboyshistory.com Listen to the official Bowery Boys playlist inspired by this episode on Spotify. If you like the show, please subscribe and leave a rating on iTunes and other podcast services. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 13

57 min 29 sec

Interview with Prof. Ernest Freeberg, author of “A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement” Today’s show is all about animals in 19th-century New York City. Of course, animals were an incredibly common sight on the streets, market halls, and factories during the Gilded Age, and many of us probably have a quaint image of horse-drawn carriages. But how often do we think about the actual work that those horses put in every day? The stress of pulling those private carriages -- or, much worse, pulling street trolleys, often overloaded with New Yorkers trying to get to work or home? In the book, “A Traitor to His Species”, author Ernest Freeberg tells the story of these animals -- and of their protector, Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). He ran the organization from the 1860s to the 1880s, and was a celebrity in his day -- widely covered, and widely mocked for his unflinching defense of the humane treatment of all animals, even the lowliest pesky birds or turtles. His story is full of surprising turns, and offers an inside account of the early fight for animal rights, and engrossing tales of Gilded Age New York from a new perspective -- the animal’s perspective! Ernest Freeberg is a distinguished professor of humanities and head of the history department at the University of Tennessee. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 30

1 hr 3 min

New York City on ice — a tribute to the forgotten industry which kept the city cool in the age before refrigeration and air conditioning. Believe it or not, ice used to be big business. In 1806 a Boston entrepreneur named Frederic Tudor cut blocks of ice from a pond on his family farm and shipped it to Martinique, a Caribbean county very unfamiliar with frozen water. He was roundly mocked — why would people want ice in areas where they can’t store it? — but the thirst for the frozen luxury soon caught on, especially in southern United States. New Yorkers really caught the ice craze in the 1830s thanks to an exceptionally clear lake near Nyack. Within two decades, shops and restaurants regularly ordered ice to serve and preserve foods. And with the invention of the icebox, people could even begin buying it up for home use. The ice business was so successful that — like oil and coal — it became a monopoly. Charles W. Morse and his American Ice Company controlled most of the ice in the northeast United States by the start of the 20th century. He was known as the Ice King. And he had one surprising secret friend — the Mayor of New York City Robert A. Van Wyck. PLUS: The 19th century technologies that allowed American to harvest and store ice. The Iceman cometh! boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 16

54 min 52 sec

There are two mysterious islands in the East River with a human population of zero. They are restricted. No human being lives there.  One of these islands has been witness to some of the most dire and dramatic moments in New York City history. North Brother Island sits near the tidal strait known as Hell Gate, a once-dangerous whirlpool which wrecked hundreds of ships and often deposited the wreckage on the island's quiet shore. In the 1880s the island was chosen as the new home for Riverside Hospital, a quarantine hospital for New Yorkers with smallpox, tuberculosis and many more contagious illnesses. Greg takes the reigns in this show and leads you through the following tales featuring North Brother Island: -- A bizarre incident -- involving a body found in the waters off the island -- which first put the place on the map; -- The nightmarish city policy of 'forced exile' to battle the spread of disease in the city's poorest quarters; -- The tragic crash of the General Slocum steamship; -- The complicated struggles of Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary; -- The implausible tale of a 1950s rehab center for teenage drug addicts. Visit the website for images and videos of North Brother Island. boweryboyshistory.com patreon.com/boweryboys   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 2

41 min 26 sec

New York City Hall sits majestically inside a nostalgic, well-manicured park, topped with a beautiful old fountain straight out of gaslight-era New York. But its serenity belies the frantic pace of government inside City Hall walls and disguises a tumultuous, vibrant history. There have actually been two other city halls — one an actual tavern, the other a temporary seat of national government — and the one we’re familiar with today is nearing its 210th birthday. And the park it sits in is much, much older! Join us as we explore the unusual history of this building, through ill-executed fireworks, disgruntled architects, and its near-destruction — to be saved only by a man named Grosvenor Atterbury. PLUS: We look at the park area itself, a common land that once catered to livestock, British soldiers, almshouses and a big, garish post office. This is a reedited and remastered version of episode #93 featuring an all-new, very special 'Choose Your Own Adventure' challenge at the end. boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 25

40 min 53 sec

We're sliding into Summer 2021 -- ready for great music, hot dancing and breaking into fire hydrants -- and so we’ve just released an epic summertime episode of Bowery Boys Movie Club to the general Bowery Boys Podcast audience, exploring the 1989 Spike Lee masterpiece Do The Right Thing. Lee electrified film audiences with Do The Right Thing, documenting a day in the life of one block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn on one of the hottest days of the summer.  Inspired by both Greek tragedy and actual events in 1980s New York, Lee's film observes the racial and ethnic tensions that boil over at an Italian-American owned pizzeria serving a mostly African-American clientele from the neighborhood. Listen in as Greg and Tom recap the story and explore some of the historical context for the film — the incendiary nature of New York summers, the realistic portrait of everyday life in Brooklyn, and the true-life murders on which Do The Right Thing is based. PLUS Support the Bowery Boys Podcast on Patreon and get another episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, exploring the brand new film In The Heights and its fascinating local angles. Another film with great music, hot dancing -- and breaking into fire hydrants! boweryboyshistory.com Support the show on Patreon   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 18

1 hr 3 min

The third and final part of the Bowery Boys Road Trip to Long Island -- the gay history of Fire Island! Fire Island is one of New York state’s most attractive summer getaways, a thin barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean lined with seaside villages and hamlets, linked by boardwalks, sandy beaches, natural dunes and water taxis. (And, for the most part, no automobiles.) But Fire Island has a very special place in American LGBT history. It is the site of one of the oldest gay and lesbian communities in the United States, situated within two neighboring hamlets -- Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines. During the 1930s actors, writers and craftspeople from the New York theatrical world began heading to Cherry Grove, its remote and rustic qualities allowing for gay and lesbians to express themselves freely -- far away from a world that rejected and persecuted them.  Performers at the Grove's Community House and Theater helped define camp culture, paving the way for the modern drag scene. In this episode, Greg and Tom head to Cherry Grove -- and the Community House and Theater -- to get a closer look at Fire Island's unique role in the American LGBT experience. And they are joined by Parker Sargent, a documentary filmmaker and one of the curators of Safe Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove, a new exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, highlighting photography from the collection of the Cherry Grove Archives Collection. FEATURING: The Great Hurricane of 1938! The Invasion of the Pines! The indescribable Belvedere! And the surprising origin of Fire Island's name. boweryboyshistory.com   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 4

1 hr 1 min

Our new mini-series Road Trip to Long Island featuring tales of historic sites outside of New York City. In the next leg of our journey, we visit Jones Beach State Park, the popular beach paradise created by Robert Moseson Long Island's South Shore. Well before he transformed New York City with expressways and bridges, Moses was an idealistic public servant working for new governor Al Smith. In 1924 he became president of the Long Island State Parks Commission, tasked with creating new state parks for public enjoyment and the preservation of the region's natural beauty.  But preserving, in the mind of Moses, often meant radical reinvention. The new Jones Beach featured glamorous bathhouses, proper athletic recreations (no roller coasters here!), an endless boardwalk and even new sand, anchored to the coast with newly grown beach grass. Sometimes called 'the American Riviera', Jones Beach made Moses' reputation and became one of the most popular beach fronts on the East Coast. But more than that, Moses and the Jones Beach project transformed the fate of Long Island's highways (or should we say parkways).  PLUS: Greg and Tom hit the road to give you a tour of Jones Beach up close -- from one end of the boardwalk to the other! AND The overpass bridges of Southern State Parkway. Did Moses develop them with low clearance to prevent buses (i.e. transportation for low income families) from coming to Jones Beach? boweryboyshistory.com Get a Bowery Boys tee-shirt from our official Tee Public store! Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 21

1 hr 6 min

The first part of our new mini-series Road Trip to Long Island featuring tales of historic sites outside of New York City. In this episode, relive a little Jazz Age luxury by escaping into the colossal castles, manors and chateaus on Long Island's North Shore, the setting for one of America's most famous novels. The world is perhaps most familiar with Long Island history thanks to the 1925 classic novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a tale of romantic yearning and social status during the Jazz Age -- set specifically in the year 1922, in the grand and opulent manor of its mysterious anti-hero Jay Gatsby.  A house so large and so full of luxury that it doesn't seem like it could even be real.  And yet hundreds of these types of mansions dotted the landscape of Long Island in the early 20th century, particular along the north shore. This area was known as the Gold Coast. In this episode, we present the origin of the Gold Coast and stories from its most prominent (and unusual) mega-mansions. Lifestyle of the (very old) rich and famous! PLUS: A road trip to Planting Fields Arboretum, the lavish grounds of the old W.R. Coe estate. Hidden rooms, bizarre murals and curious gardens! boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 7

1 hr

Coney Island is back! After being closed for 2020 due to the pandemic, the unusual attractions, the thrilling rides and the stands selling delicious beer and hot dogs have finally reopened. So we are releasing this very special version of our 2018 show called Landmarks of Coney Island — special, because this is an extended version of that show featuring the tales of two more Coney Island landmarks which were left out of the original show. The Coney Island Boardwalk — officially the Riegelmann Boardwalk — became an official New York City scenic landmark in 2018, and to celebrate, we 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 Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 30

1 hr

Nature and history intertwine in all five boroughs -- from The Bronx River to the shores of Staten Island -- in this special episode about New York City's many botanical gardens. A botanical garden is more than just a pretty place; it's a collection of plant life for the purposes of preservation, education and study. But in an urban environment like New York City, botanical gardens also must engage with modern life, becoming both a park and natural history museum. The New York Botanical Garden, established in 1891, became a sort of Gilded Age trophy room for exotic trees, plants and flowers, astride the natural features of The Bronx (and an old tobacco mill). When the Brooklyn Botanic Garden opened next to the Brooklyn Museum in 1911, its delights included an extraordinary Japanese garden by Takeo Shiota, one of the first of its kind in the United States. The World's Fair of 1939-40 also brought an international flavor to New York City, and one of its more peculiar exhibitions -- called Gardens on Parade -- stuck around in the form of the Queens Botanical Garden. PLUS: Gardens help save New York City landmarks -- from an historic estate overlooking the Hudson River to a stately collection of architecture from the early 19th century in Staten Island. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 23

1 hr 1 min

In celebration of 125 years of movie exhibition in New York City -- from vaudeville houses to movie palaces, from arthouses to multiplexes. In the spring of 1896 an invention called the Vitascope projected moving images onto a screen at a midtown vaudeville theater. The business of movies was born. By the late 1910s, the movies were big ... and the theaters were getting bigger! Thanks to creators like architect Thomas Lamb and impresario Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel, theaters in Times Square, New York's prime entertainment district, grew larger and more opulent.  Even by the 1940s, movie theaters were a mix of film and live acts -- singers, dancers, animal acrobats and even the drama of a Wurlitzer organ. But a major court case brought a change to American film exhibition and diversity to the screen -- both low brow (grind house) and high brow (foreign films and 'art' movies). Today's greatest arthouse cinemas trace their lineage back to the late 1960s/early 1970s and the new conception of movies as an art form.  Can these theaters survive the perennial villain of the movies (i.e. television) AND the current challenges of a pandemic? FEATURING: The origin story of all your favorite New York City movie theaters. boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 8

1 hr 5 min

TOGETHER AGAIN! In 1984, Jim Henson brought his world-famous Muppets to New York for a wacky musical comedy that satirized the gritty, jaded environment of 1980s Manhattan while providing fascinating views of some of its most glamorous landmarks. On this springtime episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, listen in as Greg and Tom recap the story and explore the many real New York City settings of the film — from the Empire State Building and Central Park to the corner booth at Sardi’s Restaurant and certain luncheonette in the area of today’s Hudson Square.  The Muppets Take Manhattan expresses an unfiltered enthusiasm for the promise of New York City at a time when national headlines were filled with tales of the city’s high crime and budget problems. Can Kermit and Miss Piggy (and their roster of guest stars like Art Carney and Joan Rivers) bring magic back to the Big Apple? To get BRAND NEW episodes of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, support the Bowery Boys Podcast on Patreon. boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 2

58 min 27 sec

New York's upper class families of the late 19th century lived lives of old-money pursuits and rigid, self-maintained social restrictions -- from the opera boxes to the carriages, from the well-appointed parlors to the table settings. It was leisure without relaxation.  In this episode we examine the story of Edith Wharton -- the acclaimed American novelist who was born in New York City and raised inside this very Gilded Age social world that she would bring to life in her prose. She was a true "insider" of New York's wealthy class -- giving the reader an honest look at what it was like to live in the mansions of Fifth Avenue, to attend an elite dinner soiree featuring tableaux vivants and to carry forth an exhausting agenda of travels to Hudson River estates, grand Newport manors and gardened European villas. We can read her works today and enjoy them simply as wonderful fiction -- and incredible character studies -- but as lovers of New York City history, we can also read her New York-based works for these recreations of another era. Is it possible to glimpse a bit of Edith Wharton's New York in the modern city today? Tom and Greg are joined by Wharton lecturer and tour guide Carl Raymond, a historian who has traced her footsteps many times on the streets of New York (and through the halls of her country home The Mount in Lenox, MA.) Also: Join us on April 13, 2013 for a virtual celebration of Gilded Age dining, hosted by Carl, Greg and Tom. boweryboyshistory.com   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 26

1 hr 13 min

The story of a true Brooklyn 'start up' -- Charles Pfizer and Co, who went from developing intestinal worm medication in 1849 to being a leader of COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution in the 21st century. The origin of Pfizer is one of German immigration in the mid 19th century and of early medical practices and concoctions that might seem alien to us today.  But this company's biography is also a celebration of Brooklyn — the City of Brooklyn in the mid 19th century, developing into an economic force in the United States and in opposition to the city of New York across the East River.  PLUS You can't tell the Pfizer story without looking at the world of apothecaries and early drug stores in New York City in the 19th century.  FEATURING Duane Reade, Keihl's, C.O. Bigelow, E. R. Squibb and Johnson & Johnson ALSO What important American figure today grew up delivering parcels for his family drugstore in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn? boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 19

32 min 57 sec

Welcome to your tour of New York City nightlife in the 1890s, to a fantasia of debauchery, to a "saturnalia of crime," your journey to a life of delicious, amoral delights! Courtesy a private detective, a blond-headed naif nicknamed Sunbeam and -- a prominent Presbyterian minister. In this episode, we're going to Sin City, the New York underworld of the Gilded Age -- the saloons, dance halls, opium dens, prostitution houses and groggeries of Old New York. Depicted in the sensationalist media of the day as a sort of urban Hades, a hellish landscape of vice and debauchery.  So you might be surprised that our tour guide into this debauched landscape is the respected minister Dr. Charles Parkhurst of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church.  The point of Parkhurst's sacrilegious voyage was to expose police corruption and New York law enforcement’s willingness to look the other way at illegal behavior and decrepit social situations.  This two-week dive into New York’s most sinful establishments was meant to expose the hold of corrupt law enforcement over the powerless. But did it also expose the cravings and hypocrisy of its ringleader? What you may hear in this episode may genuinely shock you -- and change your opinion about New York City nightlife forever. FEATURING: Stale beer dives, tight houses, a most sinful game of leap frog and something called "the French Circus." Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 12

58 min 57 sec

One of America's most important books was published 225 years ago this year. You won't find it on a shelf of great American literature. It was not written by a great man of letters, but somebody who described herself simply as 'an American orphan.' In 1796 a mysterious woman named Amelia Simmons published American Cookery, the first compilation of recipes (or receipts) using such previously unknown items as corn, pumpkins and "pearl ash" (similar to baking powder). This book changed the direction of fine eating in the newly established United States of America. But Amelia herself remains an elusive creator. Who was this person who would have so much influence over the American diet? Join Greg through a tour of 70 years of early American eating, identifying the true melting pot of delicious flavors — Dutch, Native American, Spanish, Caribbean and African — that transformed early English colonial cooking into something uniquely American. FEATURING early American recipes for johnnycakes, slapjacks and gazpacho! boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 5

29 min 19 sec

“If we were to offer a symbol of what Harlem has come to mean in a short span of twenty years, it would be another statue of liberty on the landward side of New York. Harlem represents the Negro’s latest thrust towards Democracy.” -- Alain Locke This is Part Two of our two-part look at the birth of Black Harlem, a look at the era BEFORE the 1920s, when the soul and spirit of this legendary neighborhood was just beginning to form.  The Harlem Renaissance is a cultural movement which describes the flowering of the arts and political thought which occurred mostly within the Black community of Harlem between 1920 and the 1940s. In particular the 1920s were described by writer Langston Hughes as “the period when the Negro was in vogue.” The moment when the white mainstream turned its attention to black culture.  But how Harlem become a mecca of Black culture and "the Capital of Black America"? This is the story of constructing a cultural movement on the streets of Upper Manhattan in the 1910s. From the stages of the Lafayette Theater to the soapboxes of Speakers Corner. From the pulpits to the salons (both hair and literary)! WITH stories of Marcus Garvey, Madam C.J. Walker, Arturo Schomburg and many more. boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 26

1 hr 1 min

The Hotel Theresa is considered a genuine (if under-appreciated) Harlem gem, both for its unique architecture and its special place in history as the hub for African-American life in the 1940s and 50s. The luxurious apartment hotel was built by a German lace manufacturer to cater to a wealthy white clientele. But almost as soon as the final brick was laid, Harlem itself changed, thanks to the arrival of thousands of new black residents from the South. Harlem, renown the world over for the artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance and its burgeoning music scene, was soon home to New York’s most thriving black community.  But many of the businesses here refused to serve black patrons, or at least certainly made them unwelcome. The Theresa changed its policy in 1940 and soon its lobby was filled with famous athletes, actresses and politicians, many choosing to live at the Hotel Theresa over other hotels in Manhattan.  The hotel’s relative small size made it an interesting concentration of America’s most renown black celebrities. In this podcast, Greg gives you a tour of this glamorous scene, from the corner bar to the penthouse, from the breakfast table of Joe Louis to the crazy parties of Dinah Washington. WITH: Martin Luther King Jr,Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Fidel Castro. And music by Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine and Duke Ellington ALSO: Who is this mysterious Theresa? What current Congressman was a former desk clerk? And what was Joe Louis’ favorite breakfast food? The first half of this show was originally released in 2013 (as Episode #158) but has been newly edited for this release. The second half of this show is ALL NEW. boweryboyshistory.com MUSIC FEATURED: "Sophisticated Lady" by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra and "Dedicated To You" by Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan.  Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 19

28 min 35 sec

How did Harlem become Harlem, the historic center of Black culture, politics and identity in American life? This is the story of revolutionary ideas -- and radical real estate. By the 1920s, Harlem had become the capital of Black America, where so many African-American thinkers, artists, writers, musicians and entrepreneurs would live and work that it would spawn -- a Harlem Renaissance. But in an era of so much institutional racism -- the oppression of Jim Crow, an ever-present reality in New York -- how did Black Harlem come to be? The story of Harlem begins more than three and a half centuries ago with the small Dutch village of Nieuw Haarlem (New Haarlem). During the late 19th century Harlem became the home of many different immigrant groups -- white immigrant groups, Irish and German, Italian and Eastern European Jews -- staking their claim of the American dream in newly developed housing here. But then an extraorindary shift occurs beginning in the first decade of the 20th century, a very specific set of circumstances that allowed, really for the very first time, African-American New Yorkers to stake out a piece of that same American dream for themselves. This is a story of real estate -- and realtors! But not just any realtor, but the story of the man who earned the nickname the Father of Harlem. Part one of a two-part show on the origins of Harlem. boweryboyshistory.com patreon.com/boweryboys Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 12

55 min 44 sec

In the latest episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, Tom and Greg celebrate wild and fabulous Auntie Mame, the outrageous comedy masterpiece starring Rosalind Russell that’s mostly set on Beekman Place, the pocket enclave of New York wealth that transforms into a haven for oddballs and bohemian eccentrics. Auntie Mame cleverly uses historical events — the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression — as a backdrop to Mame’s own financial woes, and her progressive-minded care of nephew Patrick introduces some rather avant garde philosophies to movie-going audiences. Listen in as the Bowery Boys set up the film’s history, then give a rollicking synopsis through the zany plot line. boweryboyshistory.com  To listen to future episodes of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, support the Bowery Boys podcast on Patreon! For those who support us there already, check your emails or head over to your Patreon page for a new episode -- on the 1961 classic Breakfast At Tiffany's. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 4

1 hr 22 min

The World Trade Center opened its distinctive towers during one of New York City's most difficult decades, a beacon of modernity in a city beleaguered by debt and urban decay. Welcome to the 1970s.  This year, believe it or not, marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Today there’s an entire generation that only knows the World Trade Center as an emblem of tragedy.  But people sometimes forget that the World Trade Center, designed by Japanese-American architect Minoru Yamasaki, was a very complicated addition to the New York skyline when it officially opened in 1973. While it might be fun to think of New York City in the 1970s through the lens of places like Studio 54 or CBGB, it was really the Twin Towers that redefined New York. The journey to build the world's tallest building and its expansive complex of office towers and underground shops began in an effort by David Rockefeller to stimulate development in Manhattan's fading Financial District.  By the time Port Authority got onboard to fund the project, the Twin Towers were bonded together with another vital project -- a commuter train from New Jersey.  The World Trade Center inspired strong opinions from critics and the public alike, but eventually many grew to admire the strange towers which marked the skyline.  And some, the Twin Towers became objects of obsession.  FEATURING: The insane, completely outlandish and ultimately successful feat of acrobatics by a very bold French tightrope walker.  PLUS: An interview with with Kate Monaghan Connolly of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum about how that institution memorializes those lost in the tragedy while still celebrating the technological marvels that once stood there. boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 29

1 hr 9 min

PODCAST REWIND Stories of outrageous hoaxes perpetrated upon New Yorkers in the early 19th century. 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! 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 those of men on Earth. boweryboyshistory.com A version of this show was originally released on July 8, 2016. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 22

49 min 33 sec

“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby) This is the story of a borough with great potential and the curious brown-tannish cantilever bridge which helped it achieve greatness. The Queensboro Bridge connects Manhattan with Queens by lifting over the East River and Roosevelt Island, an impressive landmark that changed the fate of the borough enshrined in its curious name. In 1898, before the Consolidation of 1898, which created Greater New York and the five boroughs, much of Queens was sparsely populated -- a farm haven connected by dusty roads -- with most residents living in a few key towns, villages and one actual city -- Long Island City. With Brooklyn and Manhattan already well developed (and overcrowded in some sectors) by the early 20th century, developers and civic leader looked to Queens as a new place for expansion. But in 1900 it had no quick and convenient connections to areas off of Long Island. With the opening of the bridge in 1909, rich new opportunities for Queens awaited. Communities from Astoria to Bayside, Jackson Heights, Flushing and Jamaica all experienced an unprecedented burst of new development. Thanks in small part to the bridge so famous that it inspired a classic folk song! boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 15

1 hr

To celebrate the opening of Moynihan Train Hall, a new commuters' wing at Penn Station catering to both Amtrak and Long Island Railroad train passengers, we’re going to tell the entire story of Pennsylvania Station and Pennsylvania Railroad over two episodes, using a couple older shows from our back catalog. This is PART TWO. Why did they knock down old Pennsylvania Station? 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. 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. 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. THIS SHOW WAS ORIGINALLY RELEASED AS EPISODE 254 — FEBRUARY 16, 2018 boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 8

1 hr 3 min

On January 1, 2021 Moynihan Train Hallofficially opens to the public, a new commuters' wing catering to both Amtrak and Long Island Railroad train passengers at New York's underground (and mostly unloved) Penn Station. To celebrate this big moment in New York City transportation history, we’re going to tell the entire story of Pennsylvania Station and Pennsylvania Railroad over two episodes, using a couple older shows from our back catalog.  The story of Pennsylvania Station involves more than just nostalgia for the long-gone temple of transportation as designed by the great McKim, Mead and White. It's a tale of incredible tunnels, political haggling and big visions.  Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest railroad in the world by the 1880s, but thanks to Cornelius Vanderbilt's New York Central Railroad, one prize was strategically out of their grasp -- direct access to Manhattan. An ambitious plan to link New Jersey to New York via a gigantic bridge fell apart, and it looked like Pennsylvania passengers would have to forever disembark in Jersey City.  But Penn Railroad president Alexander Cassatt was not satisfied. Visiting his sister Mary Cassatt -- the exquisite Impressionist painter -- in Paris, Cassatt observed the use of electrically run trains in underground tunnels. Why couldn't Penn Railroad build something similar? One problem -- the mile-wide Hudson River (or in historical parlance, the North River).  This is the tale of an engineering miracle, the construction of miles of underground tunnels and the idea of an ambitious train station to rival the world's greatest architectural marvels. ORIGINALLY RELEASED AS EPISODE 80 -- APRIL 10, 2009  boweryboyshistory.com   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 1

33 min 2 sec

It's the happiest of hours! The tales of four fabulous cocktails invented or made famous in New York City's saloons, cocktail lounges, restaurants and hotels. Cocktails are more than alcoholic beverages; over the decades, they’ve been status signifiers, indulgences that show off exotic ingredients or elixirs displaying a bit of showmanship behind the bar.  In this podcast, we recount the beginning days of four iconic alcoholic drinks:  -- The Manhattan: How an elite Gilded Age social club may have invented the cocktail for a new governor of New York; -- The Bloody Mary: A Parisian delight, enjoyed by the leading lights of the Jazz Age, makes it way to one of New York's most famous hotels; -- The Martini: A drink of mysterious origin and potency becomes New York City's most popular drink -- and a curious lunchtime companion; -- The Cosmopolitan: Tracing the history of a new cocktail classic from Provincetown to San Francisco -- and into two of New York's most famous 1980s hangouts boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

59 min 59 sec

We released the following show on the history of vaccines back in early April 2020 when the idea of a COVID 19 vaccine seemed little more than distant fantasy. Just this past Monday, on December 14, Sandra Lindsay, the director of critical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens became the first American to receive the Pfizer COVID 19 vaccine in a non-trial setting. And so this week we’re re-releasing this show — in a much more hopeful context this time around. This is the story of the polio vaccines developed by Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin -- and then a look at the origin of the vaccine itself, first developed to combat smallpox almost 225 years ago, thanks to Edward Jenner and a cow named Blossom. ---- In 1916 New York City became the epicenter of one of America’s very first polio epidemics. The scourge of infantile paralysis infected thousands of Americans that year, most under the age of five. But in New York City it was especially bad. The Department of Health took drastic measures, barring children from going out in public and even labeling home with polio sufferers, urging others to stay away. That same year, up in the Bronx, a young couple named Daniel and Dora Salk — the children of Eastern European immigrants — were themselves raising their young son named Jonas. As an adult, Jonas Salk would spend his life combating the poliovirus in the laboratory, creating a vaccine that would change the world. In 1921 a young lawyer and politician named Franklin Delano Roosevelt would contract what was believed at the time to be polio. He would use his connections and power — first as governor of New York, then as president of the United States — to guide the nation’s response to the virus. ---- AND THEN: The second half of the show is devoted to the question — who came up the first vaccine anyway?  Once upon a time there was a country doctor with a love of birds, a milkmaid with translucent skin, an eight-year-old boy with no idea what he's in for and a wonderful cow that holds the secret to human immunity. This is the story of the first vaccine, perhaps one of the greatest inventions in modern human history. Come listen to this remarkable story of risk and bravery which led to the eradication of one of the deadliest diseases in human history. And hear the words of Dr. Edward Jenner himself, written in the first weeks of his experiments! boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

1 hr 1 min

It's HOT in the city even during the coldest winter months, thanks to the most elemental of resources -- steam heat. This is the story of the innovative heating plan first introduced on a grand scale here in New York City in the 1880s, a plan which today heats many of Manhattan's most famous -- and tallest -- landmarks. While most buildings in Manhattan derive heat from a private source (most often furnaces, boilers and radiators), some of the largest structures actually get heat from the city.  If you've worked in a large Midtown office building, visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art or had your clothes dry cleaned in Manhattan, you've experienced steam distributed through ConEd's steam service through a system known as district heating.  Because of steam, the city's skyline isn't filled with thousands of chimneys, belching black smoke into the sky.  FEATURING An interview with Frank Cuomo, the director of steam operations at ConEd, who will help explain to us how the city produces steam today and how customers use it. PLUS We answer some pressing questions about city heat. Why is there no steam service in the other four boroughs? Why does your radiator clang loudly at night? And what's the function of those orange and white chimneys in the streets? Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

1 hr

PODCAST This month marks the 185th anniversary of one of the most devastating disasters in New York City history -- The Great Fire of 1835. This massive fire, among the worst in American history, devastated the city during one freezing December evening, destroying hundreds of buildings and changing the face of Manhattan forever. It underscored the city's need for a functioning water system and permanent fire department. So why were there so many people drinking champagne in the street? And how did the son of Alexander Hamilton save the day? FEATURING Such Old New York sites as the Tontine Coffee House, Stone Street,Hanover Square and Delmonico's. PLUS: A newly recorded segment about a sequel of sorts to the 1835 fire. The Great Fire of 1845 (or really The Great Explosion of 1845) would once again imperil the lives of New Yorkers. But this time, they were prepared. This show was originally released on March 13, 2009 boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

45 min 36 sec

How Beatlemania both energized and paralyzed New York City in the mid 1960s as told by the women who screamed their hearts out and helped build a phenomenon. Before BTS, before One Direction, before the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, before Menudo and the Jackson 5 -- you had Paul, John, George and Ringo. The Beatles were already an international phenomenon by February 9, 1964. when they first arrived at JFK Airport. During their visits to the city between 1964 and 1966, the Fab Four were seen by thousands of screaming fans and millions of television audiences in some of New York’s greatest landmarks. And each time they came through here, the city — and America itself — was a little bit different.  In this show, we present a little re-introduction to the Beatles and how New York City became a key component in the Beatlemania phenomenon, a part of their mythology — from the classic concert venues (Shea Stadium, Carnegie Hall) to the luxury hotels (The Plaza, The Warwick). We’ll also be focusing on the post-Beatles career of John Lennon who truly fell in love with New York City in the 1970s. And we'll visit that tragic moment in American history which united the world 40 years ago — on December 8, 1980 But we are not telling this story alone. Helping us tell this story are recollections from listeners, the women who were once the young fans of the Beatles here in New York, the women who helped built Beatlemania. boweryboyshistory.com   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

1 hr 9 min

An account of a mysterious typhoid fever outbreak from the early 20th century and the woman — Mary Mallon, the so-called Typhoid Mary — at the center of the strange epidemic. The tale of Typhoid Mary is a harrowing detective story and a chilling tale of disease and death. Why are whole healthy families suddenly getting sick with typhoid fever — from the languid mansions of Long Island’s Gold Coast to the gracious homes of Park Avenue? Can an intrepid researcher and investigator named George Soper locate a mysterious woman who may be unwittingly spreading this dire illness? boweryboyshistory.com This show was originally broadcast on September 18, 2015     Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

51 min 18 sec

Once upon a time, the streets of the Lower East Side were lined with pushcarts and salespeople haggling with customers over the price of fruits, fish and pickles. Whatever became of them? New York's earliest marketplaces were large and surprisingly well regulated hubs for commerce that kept the city fed. When the city was small, they served the hungry population well. But by the mid-19th century, massive waves of immigration and the necessary expansion of the city meant a lack of affordable food options for the city's poorest residents in overcrowded tenement districts. Then along came the peddler, pushcart vendors who brought bargains of all types -- edible and non-edible -- to neighborhood streets throughout the city. In particular, on the Lower East Side, the pushcarts created bustling makeshift marketplaces.  Many shoppers loved the set-up! But not a certain mayor -- Fiorello LaGuardia, who promised to sweep away these old-fashioned pushcarts that packed the streets -- and instead house some of those vendors in new municipal market buildings. For those immigrant peddlers, the Essex Street Market -- in sight of the Williamsburg Bridge -- would provide a diverse shopping experience representing a swirl of various cultures: Eastern European, Puerto Rican, Italian and more.  But could these markets survive competition from supermarkets? Or the many economic changes of life in New York City? Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

1 hr 5 min

The discovery of radio changed the world, and New York City was often front and center for its creation and development as America’s prime entertainment source during the 1930s and 40s. In this show, we take you on a 50-year journey, from Marconi’s news making tests aboard a yacht in New York Harbor to remarkable experiments atop the Empire State Building. Two of the medium’s great innovators grew up on the streets of New York, one a fearless inventor born in the neighborhood of Chelsea, the other an immigrant’s son from the Lower East Side who grew up to run America’s first radio broadcasting company (RCA). Another pioneer with a more complicated history made the first broadcasts that featured the human voice, the ‘angelic’ tones of a Swedish soprano heard by a wireless operator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. What indispensable station got its start as a department-store radio channel? What borough was touted in the very first radio advertisement? What former Ziegfeld Follies star strapped on a bonnet to become Baby Snooks?  Featuring tales of the Titanic, the rogue adventures of amateur operators, and a truly scary invasion from outer space! MINOR CORRECTION: The radio show of yore was obviously called Everready Hour, not Everready House! boweryboyshistory.com   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

59 min

To wrap up this month's series of spooky-themed shows, we're releasing this 2018 episode of our "Bowery Boys Movie Club", in which we conjure up New York City in the early 1980s in Ivan Reitman's box-office smash Ghostbusters. How does this zany horror comedy use the plight of New York City as a backdrop for its grab bag of goofy ghosts? How do the histories of the New York Public Library, Columbia University, Central Park and the Upper West Side become entangled in its strange and hilarious plot? And why is the Tribeca location of Ghostbusters headquarters -- in an abandoned firehouse -- so important to the story? Enjoy the show -- and be sure to join us on patreon.com/boweryboys to support the show and hear all episodes of the Movie Club!   Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

1 hr

In the 14th annual Bowery Boys Halloween podcast, we celebrate some classic strange and supernatural terrors written by the most famous horror writers in New York City history. Since 2020 is already a year full of absurd twists and frights, we thought we'd celebrate the season in a slightly different way. Don't worry! Tom and Greg are delivering a new batch of frightening stories. But this time the selected stories have been made famous by great writers who have lived and worked in New York City. Included in this year's terrors: -- A celebration of the 200th anniversary of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," featuring the Headless Horseman and the backstory of this classic story's creation; -- The unsettling days of H.P. Lovecraft in Brooklyn where his xenophobia, racism and anxiety manifest into a pair of dark, claustrophobic tales, plucked from the waterfront and the West Village; -- A bizarre and allegedly true story (or is it an urban legend?) of an unconventional jewel thief, made famous by that 20th century purveyor of all things unbelievable -- Robert Ripley; -- And a look at the life of Patricia Highsmith -- celebrating the 100th anniversary of her birth a bit early -- whose nasty little tales of mad murderers have inspired Hollywood and unsettled a new generation of suspense lovers. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

1 hr 27 min

Prepare to hear a few spirited stories in a whole new way. For the past couple years hosts Tom Meyers and Greg Young have also done a LIVE cabaret version of their annual ghost story show at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. For reasons related to the fact that it’s the hellish year of 2020, we cannot bring you a live performance this year. But we miss the wonderful Joe’s Pub so much – and we miss being with our listeners in a cabaret setting with cocktails – that we’re presenting to you a live recording of our last show at the storied venue, recorded on Halloween night 2019, featuring pianist and composer Andrew Austin and vocalist Bessie D Smith. Prepare to hear new versions of your favorite ghost stories including: -- A Brooklyn house haunting that may be related to the spectres from a colonial-era prison ship; -- A famous murder trial from the year 1800 and a mysterious well that still stands in the neighborhood of SoHo; -- The ghosts (or other supernatural entities) which guard the treasure of the famous Captain Kidd; and -- The mournful secrets of a famed Broadway theater and the inner demons of a Hollywood icon. With an all new ghostly tale -- WHO HAUNTS THE FORMER ASTOR LIBRARY? boweryboyshistory.com       Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

1 hr 25 min

Celebrating the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 150th year since its founding -- and certainly one of the strangest years in its extraordinary existence.  The Met is really the king of New York attractions, with visitors heading up to Central Park and streaming through the doors by the millions to gasp at the latest blockbuster exhibitions and priceless works of art and history.  And who doesn’t love getting lost at the Met for a rainy afternoon — wandering from the Greek and Roman galleries to the imposing artifacts within the Arms and Armor collection and the treasures of the Asian Art rooms? But this museum has some surprising secrets in its history -- and more than a few skeletons (or are those mummies?) in its closet. WITH Ancient temples, fabulous fashions, classical relics, Dutch masters, controversial exhibitions and the decorative trappings of the Gilded Age. AND Find out how the museum building has evolved over the years, employing some of the greatest architects in American history.  PLUS An interview with the Met's Andrea Bayer, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration, on the museum's celebratory exhibition Making the Met 1870-2020. How do you launch an anniversary celebration during a pandemic and lockdown? boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

1 hr 28 min

Cleopatra’s Needle is the name given to the ancient Egyptian obelisk that sits in Central Park, right behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This is the bizarre tale of how it arrived in New York and the unusual forces that went behind its transportation from Alexandra to a hill called Greywacke Knoll. FEATURING The secrets of the Freemasons, a mysterious and controversial fraternity who have been involved in several critical moments in American history (including the inauguration of fellow Mason George Washington.) PLUS A newly recorded tale about another ancient landmark that has made its way to New York City -- a column from the ancient city of Jerash, brought here because of ... Robert Moses? boweryboyshistory.com boweryboyswalks.com This is a re-presentation of a show originally released on June 26, 2014 with new 2020 bonus material recorded for this episode.  Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

57 min