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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

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

#351 Auntie Mame (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

2/4/2021
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...

Duration:01:21:23

#350 The World Trade Center in the 1970s

1/28/2021
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...

Duration:01:10:45

Rewind: Strange Hoaxes of the 19th Century

1/21/2021
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...

Duration:00:51:22

Wondery Presents: The Apology Line

1/19/2021
If you could call a number and say you’re sorry, and no one would know…what would you apologize for? For fifteen years, you could call a number in Manhattan and do just that. This is the story of the line, and the man at the other end who became consumed by his own creation. He was known as “Mr. Apology.” As thousands of callers flooded the line, confessing to everything from shoplifting to infidelity, drug dealing to murder, Mr. Apology realized he couldn’t just listen. He had to do...

Duration:00:06:46

#349 The Queensboro Bridge and the Rise of a Borough

1/14/2021
“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...

Duration:01:02:38

Rewind: The Destruction of Penn Station

1/7/2021
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...

Duration:01:03:22

Rewind: The Construction of Penn Station

1/1/2021
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...

Duration:00:34:47

#348 Cheers! The Stories of Four Fabulous Cocktails

12/24/2020
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...

Duration:01:01:46

Rewind: Historic Vaccines -- The End of Polio and Smallpox

12/17/2020
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...

Duration:01:03:57

#347 Steam Heat! A Gilded Age Miracle

12/10/2020
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...

Duration:01:02:58

Rewind: The City in Flames - The Great Fire of 1835

12/3/2020
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...

Duration:00:47:25

#346 The Beatles Invade New York!

11/26/2020
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...

Duration:01:13:24

Rewind: The Curious Case of Typhoid Mary

11/20/2020
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...

Duration:00:54:47

#345 LaGuardia's War on Pushcarts: The Creation of Essex Street Market

11/12/2020
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...

Duration:01:05:49

Rewind: On The Radio: A History of the Airwaves

11/6/2020
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...

Duration:00:59:00

#344 Ghostbusters (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

10/29/2020
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...

Duration:01:01:16

#343 Literary Horrors of New York City

10/23/2020
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...

Duration:01:28:24

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

10/16/2020
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...

Duration:01:28:14