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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

#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

#341 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

10/9/2020
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...

Duration:01:31:54

Rewind: The Mystery of the Central Park Obelisk

10/2/2020
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...

Duration:00:57:08

#340 The Real Life Adventures of Tom Thumb

9/25/2020
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 Museum. He’d...

Duration:01:07:43

Rewind: The Revolutionary Tavern of Samuel Fraunces

9/18/2020
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...

Duration:00:56:04

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

9/10/2020
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 2019 book,...

Duration:01:06:23

Rewind: The American Museum of Natural History

9/4/2020
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...

Duration:01:04:44