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The Bowery Boys: New York City History

History Podcasts

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.

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.


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




The Beatles Invade New York!

PODCAST: EPISODE 346 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...


The Curious Case of Typhoid Mary

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...


LaGuardia's War on Pushcarts and the Creation of Essex St. Market

EPISODE 345 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...


On The Radio: A History of the Airwaves

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...


Ghostbusters (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

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...


Literary Horrors of New York City

EPISODE 343 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...


Ghost Stories of Old New York (ALIVE at Joe's Pub)

EPISODE 342 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...


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

EPISODE 341 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 Mystery of the Central Park Obelisk

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...


The Real Life Adventures of Tom Thumb

EPISODE 340 Charles Stratton, who would become world famous as “Tom Thumb” in the mid-19th century, was born in Bridgeport, CT on January 4, 1838 to parents of average height, and he grew normally during the first six months of his life -- to about 25 inches or so. And then, surprisingly, he just stopped growing. When P.T. Barnum, the master showman, would meet Charles and his parents, Charlie was 4, and he’d be signed on the spot to play the part of “General Tom Thumb” at Barnum’s American...


The Revolutionary Tavern of Samuel Fraunces

Fraunces Tavern is one of America’s most important historical sites of the Revolutionary War and a reminder of the great importance of taverns on the New York way of life during the Colonial era. This revered building at the corner of Pearl and Broad street was the location of George Washington‘s farewell address to his Continental Army officers and one of the first government buildings of the young United States of America. John Jay and Alexander Hamilton both used Fraunces as an office. As...


James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal

EPISODE #339: Interview with author Eric K. Washington, author of “Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal”. The Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal were a workforce of hundreds of African-American men who were an essential part of the long-distance railroad experience. Passengers relied on Red caps for more than simply grabbing their bags -- they were navigators, they helped with taxis, offered advice, and provided a warm greeting. In his...


Dinosaurs and Diamonds: The American Museum of Natural History

Ancient space rocks, dinosaur fossils, anthropological artifacts and biological specimens are housed in New York's world famous natural history complex on the Upper West Side -- the American Museum of Natural History! Throughout the 19th century, New Yorkers tried to establish a legitimate natural history venue in the city, including an aborted plan for a Central Park dinosaur pavilion. With the creation of the American Museum of Natural History, the city finally had a premier institution...


A New Deal for the Arts: Murals, Music and Theatrical Mayhem

PART 2 of our two-part podcast series, "A NEW DEAL FOR NEW YORK" EPISODE 338 In this episode, we look at how one aspect of FDR's New Deal -- the WPA's Federal Project Number One -- was used to put the country's creative community back to work and lift the spirits of downtrodden Americans. Federal Project Number One -- the "artistic wing" of the Works Progress Administration -- inspired one of the most important and lasting cultural revolutions in the United States, an infusion of funds that...


Robert Moses and the Art of the New Deal

EPISODE 337 -- PART ONE of a two-part podcast series A NEW DEAL FOR NEW YORK. For Part One, we look at the impact FDR and New Deal funding had in shaping New York City's bridges and parks -- thanks to an especially tenacious parks commissioner! New York City during the 1930s was defined by massive unemployment, long lines at the soup kitchens, Hoovervilles in Central Park. But this was also the decade of the Triborough Bridge and Orchard Beach, new swimming pools and playgrounds Faced with...


TESLA: The Inventor in Old New York

The Serbian immigrant Nikola Tesla was among the Gilded Age's brightest minds, a visionary thinker and inventor who gave the world innovations in electricity, radio and wireless communication. So why has Tesla garnered the mantle of cult status among many? Part of that has to do with his life in New York City, his shifting fortunes as he made his way (counting every step) along the city streets. Tesla lived in Manhattan for more than 50 years, and although he hated it when he first arrived,...


The War on Newspaper Row

EPISODE 336 The newspapers of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst -- the New York World and the New York Journal -- were locked in a fierce competition for readers in the mid 1890s. New Yorkers loved it. The paper's sensational style was so shocking that it became known as "yellow journalism". So what happens when those flamboyant publications are given an international conflict to write about? On February 15, 1898, the USS Mainemysteriously exploded while stationed in Havana Harbor...


Pulitzer vs Hearst: The Rise of Yellow Journalism

EPISODE 335 In the 1890s, powerful New York publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst engaged in an all-out battle for readers of their respective newspapers, developing a flamboyant, sensational style of coverage today referred to as "yellow journalism". This battle between the New York World and the New York Journal would determine the direction of the American media landscape and today we still feel its aftermath -- from melodramatic headlines to the birth of eyewitness...


Land of the Lenape: A Violent Tale of Conquest and Betrayal

The story of the Lenape, the native people of New York Harbor region and their experiences with the first European arrivals — the explorers, the fur traders, the residents of New Amsterdam. Before New York, before New Amsterdam — there was Lenapehoking, the land of the Lenape, the original inhabitants of the places we call Manhattan, Westchester, northern New Jersey and western Long Island. This is the story of their first contact with European explorers and settlers and their gradual...


Midnight Cowboy (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

EPISODE 334: It's summer in the city, so we're re-issuing our Bowery Boys Movie Club podcast devoted to Midnight Cowboy, the 1969 buddy film starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. There are few time capsules of New York’s darker days quite as pleasurable as Midnight Cowboy. It’s hardly as provocative as when it was released in May 1969, but its ragged edges have only become more remarkable to view as a piece of history, paying tribute to an era often romanticized today. If you’ve never seen...