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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.

Location:

New York, NY

Description:

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.

Language:

English


Episodes

#367 The Ice Craze: How the Ice Business Transformed New York

7/15/2021
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...

Duration:00:58:35

#366 North Brother Island: New York's Forbidden Place

7/1/2021
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...

Duration:00:43:40

Rewind: The Historic New York City Hall

6/25/2021
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...

Duration:00:43:33

Rewind: The Historic New York City Hall

6/24/2021
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...

Duration:00:45:31

#365 Do The Right Thing (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

6/17/2021
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...

Duration:01:06:30

#364 The Very Gay History of Fire Island

6/3/2021
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...

Duration:01:05:24

#363 The Sunny Saga of Jones Beach

5/20/2021
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...

Duration:01:07:32

#362 Gatsby and the Mansions of the Gold Coast

5/6/2021
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...

Duration:01:01:05

Trailer: The Bowery Boys Road Trip to Long Island

5/4/2021
The Bowery Boys podcast is going on a road trip. Presenting a new three part podcast series, exploring three historic places outside of New York City. It’s a Bowery Boys Road Trip to Long Island! boweryboyshistory.com Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Duration:00:00:59

#361 Landmarks of Coney Island (Extended Funhouse Mix)

4/29/2021
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...

Duration:01:02:35

#360 The Botanical Gardens of New York City

4/22/2021
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...

Duration:01:03:59

#359 The Magic of the Movie Theater

4/8/2021
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...

Duration:01:06:15

#358 The Muppets Take Manhattan (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

4/1/2021
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...

Duration:00:59:14

#357 Edith Wharton's New York

3/25/2021
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...

Duration:01:16:24

#356 Pfizer: A Brooklyn Origin Story

3/18/2021
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...

Duration:00:34:50

#355 The Midnight Adventures of Doctor Parkhurst

3/11/2021
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...

Duration:01:00:21

#354 Who Wrote the First American Cookbook?

3/4/2021
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...

Duration:00:29:19

#353 Harlem Before the Renaissance

2/25/2021
“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...

Duration:01:03:20

Rewind: Harlem Nights at the Hotel Theresa

2/18/2021
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...

Duration:00:30:06

#352 The Birth of Black Harlem

2/11/2021
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...

Duration:00:55:44