DiscoverThe Bowery Boys: New York City History
The Bowery Boys: New York City History
Claim Ownership

The Bowery Boys: New York City History

Author: Bowery Boys Media

Subscribed: 6,871Played: 103,128


New York City history is America's history. It's the hometown of the world, and most people know the city's familiar landmarks, buildings and streets. Why not look a little closer and have fun while doing it?
331 Episodes
"To the beat of muffled drums 8,000 negro men, women and children marched down Fifth Avenue yesterday in a parade of 'silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression' inflicted upon them in this country." -- New York Times, July 29, 1917 EPISODE 330 The Silent Parade of July 28, 1917, was unlike anything ever seen in New York City -- thousands of black men, women and children marching down Fifth Avenue. Today it is considered New York's (and most likely America's) first African-American civil rights march. The march was organized by the NAACP in direct response to a horrible plague of violence against black Americans in the 1910s, culminating in the East St. Louis Riots, a massacre involving white mobs storming black neighborhoods in sheer racial animus. There were no chants or rallying cries. The women were dressed all in white, the men in black. Thousands of onlookers had lined the parade route that day out of curiosity, amusement, pride, anger and joy. How did this unusual protest come to be? How did New Yorkers really react? And why has the Silent Parade gone mostly forgotten for most Americans? FEATURING: W.E.B. Du Bois, Madam C.J. Walker, James Weldon Johnson, Lillian Wald and more Support the show.
EPISODE 329 Did you know that the first modern ambulance -- as in a 'mobile hospital' -- was invented in New York City? On June 4, 1869, America’s first ambulance service went into operation from Bellevue Hospital with a driver, a surgeon, two horses and equipment including a stretcher, a stomach pump, bandages and sponges, handcuffs, a straight-jacket, and a quart of brandy. Within just a couple years, the ambulance became an invaluable feature of New York health, saving the lives of those who might otherwise die on the streets of the city. They proved especially helpful in a riot -- of which there were many in the 19th century! In this show, you'll be introduced to a new way of thinking about urgent injuries and emergency care. True emergency medicine was not a serious factor in major hospitals until the 1960s. Yet on-the-job injuries and terrible trauma from violent crime was a perpetual problem in New York. What was life like in the city before the advent of the ambulance? How did ambulances work in the era before the telephone? PLUS: A tribute to the ambulance workers -- the EMTs, paramedics and drivers -- who have risked their lives to save those of other New Yorkers.     Support the show.
EPISODE 328 New Yorkers eat a LOT of Chinese food and have enjoyed Chinese cuisine – either in a restaurant or as takeout – for well over 130 years. Chinese food entered the regular diet of the city before the bagel, the hot dog and even the pizza slice. In this episode, Greg explores the history of Chinese food in New York City -- from the first Mott Street kitchens in Manhattan's Chinatown to the sleek 20th century eateries of Midtown. We have one particular dish to thank for the mainstreaming of Chinese food -- chop suey. By the 1920s, chop suey had taken New York by storm, a cuisine perfect for the Jazz Age. Through the next several decades, Chinese food would be transformed into something truly American and the Chinese dining experience would incorporate neon signs, fabulous cocktails and even glamorous floor shows by the 1940s. FEATURING: Such classics as the Port Arthur Restaurant, the Chinese Tuxedo, Ruby Foo's Den, Tao, Lucky Cheng's and the eateries of 'Szechuan Valley'. PLUS: Bernstein-on-Essex and the love affair between Chinese food and Jewish New Yorkers.   Support the show.
EPISODE 327 This is Part Two of a special Bowery Boys podcast event featuring the voices of our listeners. What makes New York feel like home — whether you live here or not? Why do people feel comfortable in New York City -- even in troubling times? When do you officially become a New Yorker? In this episode, we focus on a few tales from New York transplants, those who were born here and moved to the city in search of employment, adventure, love -- or purpose. And stories from those native New Yorkers who have moved away but keep a part of the city with them always (and in a couple cases, we mean this literally.) ALSO: How the residents of New York City come together in crisis times. Featuring the 'origin stories' of both Tom and Greg, both of whom moved to New York City in the early 1990s. It took both the simple pleasures of urban living and major traumatic events to turn them into New Yorkers.   Support the show.
EPISODE 326 A special episode featuring the listeners of the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast. What makes New York feel like home -- whether you live here or not? What is that indefinable connection that people make with the city? Why do so many people feel a city as large as New York speaks to them personally? We asked our listeners to tell us about feeling “at home in New York," about that feeling of familiarity and nostalgia that one can feel here. Thanks to the presence of New York City in so many films, books and television shows, it's an emotion that can be felt even by those who live elsewhere. Well the listeners delivered -- in a wonderful abundance of voicemails and emails. In this episode we hear from three groups of New York City lovers: the native New Yorkers, the commuters and the frequent visitors. (In part two, we'll hear the tales of the transplants, those who, in the words of E.B. White, "came to New York in quest of something.") Support the show.
EPISODE 325 In 1858, during two terrible nights of violence in September, the needs of the few outweighed the needs of the many when a community, endangered for decades and ignored by the state, finally reached its breaking point. In Staten Island, near the spot of today’s St. George Ferry Terminal, where thousands board and disembark the Staten Island Ferry everyday, was once America’s largest quarantine station – 30 acres of hospitals, medical facilities, shanties and doctors' homes, surrounded by a six-foot-tall brick wall. Since its construction in the year 1799, Staten Islanders had fought for the removal of the Quarantine Ground, considered a menacing danger to the health of residents and a blight upon any possible development. Yet the need for such an extensive facility at the Narrows -- the gateway to the New York Upper Bay and the Hudson River -- was so important that the state of New York mostly turned a blind eye to their wishes. And so the residents of Staten Island took matters into their own hands. Was this a case of righteous revolution in the service of safety and well-being against a tyrannical state? Or a grave and malicious act of terror? FEATURING: Cornelius Vanderbilt and two American vice presidents. And origins of New York neighborhoods, Tompkinsville, St. George and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn!     Support the show.
EPISODE 324 At last! The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast looks at one of the strangest traditions in this city's long history -- that curious custom known as Moving Day. Every May 1st, for well over two centuries, from the colonial era to World War II, rental leases would expire simultaneously, and thousands of New Yorkers would pack their possessions into carts or wagons and move to new homes or apartments.  (Later on, October 1st would become the second ‘moving day’.) Of course, for the rest of the world May 1 would mean all different things – a celebration of spring or moment of political protest. And it would mean those things here in New York – but on a backdrop of just unbelievable mayhem in the streets. There are a few theories about the origin of Moving Day but most of them trace back the Dutch colony of New Netherlands. So why did New Yorkers continue the custom for centuries? FEATURINGDavy Crockett, The Jeffersons, Mickey Mouse and an amazing New Yorker named Amy Armstrong with a really stubborn husband. Make sure you're subscribed to the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast so you don't miss an episode. Support the show.
EPISODE 323 Two tales from New York’s incredible history with tattooing. The art of tattooing is as old as written language but it would require the contributions of a few 19th century New York tattoo artists — and a young inventor with no tattoos whatsoever — to take this ancient art to the next level. The first documented tattoo parlor (or atelier) in the United States was a small second-floor place near the East River waterfront and close to the site of the Brooklyn Bridge. But as more sailors and seamen — the principal customers for tattoo purveyors — came to New York, more would-be tattoo artists opened shops. By the 1880s, there were a great number of professional tattooists, scattered along the waterfront and up along the Bowery. Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn, sailors in need of a fresh tattoo could head to small shops in Coney Island or near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In this episode, Greg shares two tales from New York City tattoo history: — An unsuccessful Thomas Edison invention becomes a revolutionary device for tattoo artists. The electric tattoo machine was first perfected in a tiny tattoo parlor underneath a New York elevated train in Chatham Square. — Believe it or not, tattooing was outlawed in New York City in 1961! And would remain so for 36 years. How is that even possible in a city with a vibrant music scene and iconic venues like CBGB just steps from the heart of Manhattan’s old tattooing industry? Support the show.
EPISODE 322 The historic movie studio Kaufman Astoria Studios opened 100 years ago this year in Astoria, Queens. It remains a vital part of New York City's entertainment industry with both film and television shows still made there to this day. The Museum of the Moving Image resides next door in a former studio building. To honor this anniversary, we are re-issuing a new version of one of our favorite shows from the back catalog -- New York City and the birth of the film industry. New York City inspires cinema, but it has also consistently manufactured it. Long before anybody had heard of Hollywood, New York and the surrounding region was a capital for movies, the home to the earliest American film studios and the inventors who revolutionized the medium. It began with Thomas Edison's invention of the Kinetoscope out in his New Jersey laboratory. Soon his former employees would spread out through New York, evolving the inventor's work into entertainments that could be projected in front of audiences. By the mid 1900s, New Yorkers fell in love with nickelodeons and gasped as their first look at moving pictures. Along the way, films were made in locations all throughout the city -- from the rooftop of Madison Square Garden to a special super-studio in the Bronx. This is a special 'director's cut' of a podcast we first released on February 18, 2011. For more information, visit our website.   Support the show.
EPISODE 321 The Hollywood icon and Broadway star Lauren Bacall lived at the Dakota Apartments on the Upper West Side for 53 years. Her story is intertwined the Dakota, a revolutionary apartment complex built in 1884. In this episode, we tell both their stories. Bacall, born Betty Joan Perske, the daughter of Jewish Eastern European immigrants, worked her way from theater usher to cover model at a young age, then became a movie star before she was 20 years old. Her film pairings with husband Humphrey Bogart define the classic Hollywood era. After Bogart died, she returned to New York City to reinvent her career, her sights aimed at the Broadway stage. And she chose the Dakota as her home. Built by Singer Sewing Machine president Edward Clark, the Dakota was a pioneer of both apartment-style living and of living, generally speaking, on the Upper West Side. This is the story of second and third acts -- both for an woman of grit and independent spirit and for a landmark with a million stories to tell (and a million more to come).   Support the show.
Few people are allowed to go onto Hart Island, the quiet, narrow island in the Long Island Sound, a lonely place in sight of the bustling community of City Island. For more than 150 years, Hart Island has been New York's potter's field, the burial site for more than one million people -- unclaimed bodies, stillborn babies, those who died of AIDS in the 1980s and 90s, and, in 2020, the location of burials of those who have died of COVID-19 coronavirus. Hart Island's appearance in the international press this past week has drawn attention to the severity of the pandemic in New York City, but it has also drawn attention to the island itself. By the early 19th century, this peaceful place -- most likely named for deer which may have called it home -- had already developed a violent reputation as a renegade site for boxing matches. During the Civil War, black Union troops trained here and later Confederate soldiers were imprisoned in refitted prison barracks. But in the late 1860s the city prepared the island for its eventual and longest lasting purpose. Today it is the world's largest potter's field. And thanks to groups like the Hart Island Project, New Yorkers may finally get a glimpse at this strange, forlorn place and the previously forgotten people buried here. Support the show.
EPISODE 319 In simpler times, thousands of tourists would flock to the northern tip of Bowling Greenin Lower Manhattan to take a picture with a rather unconventional New Yorker -- the bronze sculpture Charging Bull by Italian-American artist Arturo Di Modica. Bull is a product of the 1980s New York art scene, delivered as a gift to the New York Stock Exchange (and to the American people, according to the artist) one late night in December 1989. Nobody may have asked for this particular gift, but soon New Yorkers fell in love with the bull, and the sculpture was soon placed near Bowling Green, one of New York City's oldest public spaces. By the early 1990s, Charging Bull had become one of the most photographed pieces of art in America, beloved as both work of sculpture and a genuine, photo-friendly curiosity. But in 2017, the bull faced down an unusual new neighbor -- another bronze named Fearless Girl by Kristen Visbal. Girl soon became very popular with budding selfie-takers, but her proximity to Bull changed its fundamental meaning. An art scandal in lower Manhattan was brewing!   Support the show.
Moonstruck: That's Amore!

Moonstruck: That's Amore!


EPISODE 318 Moonstruck, the 1987 comedy starring Cher and Nicolas Cage, not only celebrates that crazy little thing called love, but also pays tribute to the Italian working class residents of the old "South Brooklyn" neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. Listen in as Greg and Tom recap the story and explore the many real New York City settings of the film -- from the glamorous Lincoln Center to the still-gritty streets of 1980s Little Italy. While the film's most recognizable location (the townhouse on Cranberry Street) is still with us, other places like the Cammareri Bros. Bakery are no longer with in business.  This podcast can be enjoyed both by those who have seen the film and those who’ve never even heard of it.   We think our take on Moonstruck might inspire you to look for the film’s many fascinating (but easy to overlook) historical details, so if you don’t mind being spoiled on the plot, give it a listen first, then watch the movie! Otherwise, come back to the show after you’ve watched it. Also: Announcing the Bowery Boys "Safe At Home" Listener Challenge Take part in a future Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast! We're looking for stories about feeling at home in New York City. As we discuss at the beginning of the show, we're looking for stories about "home in New York" from native New Yorkers, those who have moved to New York, and those who only visit New York. Just call our Bowery Boys hotline and record a message. Our number is (844) 4-BOWERY. Messages can be up to one minute long. Be sure to leave your first name and the city you’re calling from. And we’ll include as many stories as we can in our upcoming show. Thank you! Support the show.
EPISODE 317 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. FEATURING: The story of Albert Sabin and the origin of the March of Dimes. ALSO: The second half of the show is devoted to the question -- who came up the first vaccine anyway? Presenting the story of Edward Jenner -- and a cow named Blossom. Subscribe to the Bowery Boys podcast today on your favorite podcast player.   Support the show.
EPISODE 316 What happens when P. T. Barnum, America's savviest supplier of both humbug and hoax, decides it's time to go legit? Only one of the greatest concert tours in American history. If you've seen the film musical The Greatest Showman, you've been introduced to Jenny Lind, the opera superstar dubbed "The Swedish Nightingale". And you also know that Barnum, taken with the Swedish songstress, brings her to New York to begin a heavily promoted American debut. But the film sidesteps many of the more fascinating details. Lind was greeted like a queen and rock star when she arrived at the Canal Street dock despite most New Yorkers having never heard her sing. Her stage was Castle Garden, the former fort turned performance venue that sat in New York harbor, connected to the Battery by a small bridge. The concert proved legendary. And Lind proved herself an enterprising businesswoman, bending even the will of a profiteer like Barnum. Her financial arrangement for the tour would influence 170 years of musical performances and cement her reputation as one of the greatest vocalists of the 19th century. Support the show.
EPISODE 315 The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, founded in 1900, was a precursor to the Nobel Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a vaunted tribute to those who have contributed greatly to the development the United States of America. Located on the campus of Bronx Community College in the University Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, the Hall of Fame features the sculpted bronze busts of 96 individuals considered worthy of renown in their day, arranged along a columned arcade designed by Stanford White. It was so important in the early 20th century that the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame derive from its example. The Hall of Fame for Great Americans even pops up in The Wizard of Oz! But today it is virtually forgotten. And no person has been elected to the Hall of Fame since the 1970s. This is the story of a university with lofty intentions, a snapshot of early 20th century optimism, and a look at a few questionable considerations of 'greatness'. *There were once 98 busts but two were removed in 2017. Support the show.
London Terrace, an English-inspired apartment complex, is a jewel of apartment living in the neighborhood of Chelsea. In 1929, a set of historic townhouses -- also named London Terrace -- were demolished to construct this spectacular set of buildings. That is, all townhouses but one -- the home of Mrs. Tillie Hart, a tenacious tenant who refused to leave. In a real-life example of the movie Up, Hart's tale is a battle between urban development and an individual's right to their longtime home -- a genuine David vs. Goliath tale on the landscape of New York City real estate. In her favor -- the support of the public and the regular attention of the New York Daily News. Will Hart prevail? PLUS: A history of the Chelsea neighborhood and its "godfather" Clement Clarke Moore. Support the show.
EPISODE 313"No man likes to have his hat snatched from his head by somebody he has not yet been introduced to." During the month of September 1922, as summer passed into autumn, large groups of rowdy 'hoodlums' swarmed the streets of New York City, grabbing straw hats off the heads of men, leaving the gutters filled with thousands of smashed lids. Why in the world would so many people become outraged at the sight of a straw hat? This is the story of the ultimate fashion faux pas, Jazz Age style, and a look at the dangers of men's wear uniformity. NOTE: As this is our first remotely recorded episode, we're a bit more slap-happy than usual. Expect an extra dosage of puns. Special thanks to   Support the show.
EPISODE 312 The Whitechapel murders of 1888 -- perpetrated by the killer known as Jack the Ripper -- inspired one of the greatest cultural hysterias of the Victorian era. The idea that the Ripper could appear anywhere -- even in New York City.  The usual vicious crimes of gang members and roughs on the Bowery were not only compared to those of the Ripper, they were often framed as though they were the Ripper himself, an omnipresent specter of evil. The sordid misdeeds of other criminals were elevated by the press in comparisons to Jack the Ripper.  But then, in April of 1891, a crime was committed on the East River waterfront that was so brutal, so garish, that comparisons to the London killer were inevitable. The victim was named Carrie Brown. But people along the waterfront knew her by her nickname Shakespeare (or Old Shakespeare). This is also the story of a man named Ameer Ben Ali, an Algerian immigrant who also became a victim -- of one of the greatest instances of criminal injustice in New York City history. This is a tale of an infamous crime, a controversial detective and an unjust conviction. And hovering over it all -- a devil, a specter of fear and violence. Who killed Old Shakespeare? Support the show.
EPISODE 311 Nobody had seen anything quite like it. In late November 1909, tens of thousands of workers went on strike, angered by poor work conditions and unfair wages within the city's largest industry. New York City had seen labor strikes before, but this one would change the city forever. The industry in question was the garment industry, the manufacture of clothing -- and, in the case of this strike, the manufacture of shirtwaists, the fashionable blouse worn by many American women. The strikers in question were mostly young women and girls, mostly Eastern European Jewish and Italian immigrants who were tired of being taken advantage of by their male employers. Leading the charge were labor leaders and activists, and in particular, a young woman named Clara Lemlich who would incite a crowd of thousands at Cooper Union with a rousing speech that would forever echo as a cry of solidarity for an underpaid and abused workforce. PLUS: A visit to the New-York Historical Society's new exhibition Women March and an interview with Valerie Paley, co-curator and director at the Historical Society's Center for Women's History.     Support the show.
Comments (9)


so au courant, o'cour? 🙉

Apr 29th

Kevin Sullivan

when I was in high school I was in a junior ROTC unit and the longest parade we ever marched in was a Memorial Day parade that was 8 miles long.

Apr 10th


It wasn't a switchblade. It was his father's straight razor. Also Amsterdam's medal of St. Michael, not St. Anthony.

Nov 1st

Cover Time

love this podcast #greenmonkey

Jul 2nd

Dale Heller


Mar 29th

Александр Михеев

The best podcast I ever heard!

Mar 28th

Cover Time


Dec 1st

The Dungeon DM

The Bowery Boys are one of my favorite history podcasts i hope that they keep up their history till the end.

Jul 31st

Sk Hasan Imam

ubrest opetation

Dec 20th
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store