The Bowery Boys: New York City History
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?
#203 Nikola Tesla in 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 New York for more than 50 years, and although he hated it when he first arrived, he quickly understood its importance to the development of his inventions.

Travel with us to the many places Tesla worked and lived in Manhattan -- from the Little Italy roost where the Tesla Coil may have been invented to his doomed Greenwich Village laboratory. From his first job in the Lower East Side to his final home in one of Midtown Manhattan's most famous hotels.

Nikola Tesla, thank you for bringing your genius to New York City.

www.boweryboyshistory.com

 

ARRIVING IN JUNE 2016: The Bowery Boys Adventures In Old New York, a time-traveling journey into a past that lives simultaneously besides the modern city.

Pre-order now at Barnes and Noble, Amazon or at your local bookstore.

Direct download: 203_Nikola_Tesla_in_New_York.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:56pm EDT

Join us as we experience the tastes of another era by visiting some of the oldest culinary institutions of the Lower East Side. From McSorley's to Katz's, Russ & Daughters and Economy Candy -- when did these shops open, who did they serve, and how, in the world are they still with us today? We explore the topic with author Sarah Lohman of the Four Pounds Flour blog.

Join us as we taste our way through the history of the Lower East Side!

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 202_Lower_Eat_Side.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:28pm EDT

This is the dirtiest Bowery Boys podcast ever. Literally.

Brooklyn's Gowanus -- both the creek and the canal -- is one of the most mysterious and historically important waterways in New York City. By coincidence, it also happens to be among its most polluted, shrouded in frightening tales of dead animals (and a few unfortunate humans) floating along its canal shores. Its toxic mix is the stuff of urban legends (most of which are actually true).

But this was once the land of delicious oysters. This was the site of an important Revolutionary War battle. This was part of the property of the man who later developed Park Slope.

But, in current times, it ALSO happens to be one of New York City's hottest neighborhoods for real estate development. How does a neighborhood go from a canal of deadly constitution to a Whole Foods, condos and shuffleboard courts?

With so many personalities (and with Tom gone this week) I needed a special guide for this fraught and twisted journey -- writer and historian Joseph Alexiou, author of 'Gowanus: Brooklyn's Curious Canal', bringing his expertise to help me wade through the most toxic portion of the show.

 

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 201_GOWANUS_Brooklyns_Troubled_Waters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:07am EDT

Washington Square Park torn in two. The West Village erased and re-written. Soho, Little Italy and the Lower East Side ripped asunder by an elevated highway. This is what would  have happened in New York City in the 1950s and 60s if not for enraged residents and community activists, lead and inspired by a woman from Scranton.

Jane Jacobs is one of the most important urban thinkers of the 20th century. As a young woman, she fell in love with Greenwich Village (and met her husband there) which contained a unique alchemy of life and culture that one could only find in an urban area. As an adroit and intuitive architectural writer, she formed ideas about urban development that flew in the face of mainstream city planning. As a community activist, she fought for her own neighborhood and set an example for other embattled districts in New York City.

Her legacy is fascinating, often radical and not always positive for cities in 2016. But she is an extraordinary New Yorker, and for our 200th episode, we had to celebrate this remarkable woman on the 10th anniversary of her birth.

PLUS: ROOOOBERT MOOOOSES!

 

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 200_Jane_Jacobs__Saving_the_Village.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36am EDT

As we prepare for our #200th episode -- and the release of the first-ever Bowery Boys book -- we've decided to take a look back at our last 100 shows, at some of the highlights of the past six or so years.  What were some of our favorite episodes? The most controversial episode?

But we start by officially introducing you to "The Adventures In Old New York", our new book coming out in May.  We give you a little insight into its development and what history you can expect to find in it.

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 199-2_Behind_the_Show_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:57am EDT

This year is the one hundred anniversary of one of the most important laws ever passed in New York City -- the 1916 Zoning Law which dictated the rules for building big and tall in the city. So we thought we'd take this opportunity to ponder on the many changes to New York's beautiful skyline via the unique technical changes to construction rules.

Why are areas of lower Manhattan darkened canyons, and why are there huge public plazas inside buildings in Midtown? Why do older buildings have graceful and elegant set-backs but newer structures feel like monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey? This is a layman's history of building tall -- our apologizes to architects for simplifying such sophisticated concepts -- and the important laws that changed the face of NYC forever.

PLUS: This is our craziest podcast yet!  We've decided -- as our 199th episode -- to hit the road! This entire show is recorded outside in front of the very spots that have most affected the city's decision. From downtown Manhattan and the Equitable Building to a surprising corner of Hell's Kitchen.

 

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 199_Battle_For_The_Skyline.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04am EDT

Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has a surprising history of bucolic green pastures and rancid oil patches. Before the 19th century this corner of Brooklyn was owned by only a few families with farms (and slaves tending them). But with the future borough of Brooklyn expanding at a great rate, Greenpoint (or Green Point, as they used to call it) could no longer remain private.

Industries like ship-building and petroleum completely changed the character of Greenpoint's waterfront, while its unique, alphabetically-named grid of streets held an extraordinary collection of townhouses. By the late 19th century, Polish immigrants would move on the major avenues, developing a 'Little Poland' that still characterizes the neighborhood.

But big changes are coming to Greenpoint thanks to new housing developments. How will these new arrivals fare next to the notoriously toxic Newtown Creek, a body of water heavily abused by industry?

ALSO: The world that young Patricia Mae Andrzejewski may have experienced in her childhood days before becoming a major rock star.

 

www.boweryboyshistory.com

And coming in May 2016 -- The Adventures In Old New York, the first-ever Bowery Boys book!

Direct download: 198_Greenpoint_Brooklyn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:15am EDT

On July 30, 1916, at just after 2 in the morning, a massive explosion ripped apart the island of Black Tom on the shoreline near Jersey City, sending a shockwave through the region and thousands of pounds of wartime shrapnel into the neighboring Ellis Island and Bedloe's Island (home to the Statue of Liberty).

Thousands of windows were shattered in the region, and millions woke up wondering what horrible thing had just happened.

The terrifying disaster was no accident; this was the sabotage of German agents, bent on eliminating tons of munitions that were being sent to the Allied powers during World War I.  Although America had not yet entered the war, the United States was considered an enemy combatant thanks to weapons manufactures in the New York region and around the country.

But the surprising epicenter of German spy activity was in a simple townhouse in the neighborhood of Chelsea.

ALSO: New Yorkers still feel the ramifications of the Black Tom Explosion today at one of America's top tourist attractions.

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Arriving in May 2016: The first-ever Bowery Boys book - Adventures in Old New York!

Direct download: 197_Danger_In_The_Harbor__The_Black_Tom_Explosion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:24pm EDT

The Garment District in Midtown Manhattan has been the center for all things American fashion for almost one hundred years.  The lofts and office buildings here still buzz with industry of making clothing -- from design to distribution.

New York's long history with the ready-to-wear apparel industry has an ugly beginning -- the manufacture of clothing for Southern slaves. Garment production thrived here by the middle of the 19th century thanks to thousands of arriving immigrants, skilled in the production of making clothes.

By 1900, most of the clothes in the United States were made below 14th Street, in the tenement neighborhoods of New York. The disaster at the Triangle Factory Fire in 1911 brought attention to the terrible conditions found in New York's new loft-style factories
Fears of the clothing industry encroaching upon Fifth Avenue provoked some New  York businesses to stop working with garment sector unless they moved to particular area of the city.  And so, by the mid 20th century, hardly a stitch was sold in the United States without it coming through the blocks between 34th Street and 42nd Street west of Sixth Avenue.

Listen in as we describe the Garment District's chaotic rush of activity  -- from the fabulous showrooms of the world's greatest designers to the nitty-gritty bustle of the crowded streets.

FEATURING: Ed Koch, Lauren Bacall, George Opdyke and Brooks Brothers

WARNING: This show is bursting at the seams with clothing puns!

Direct download: 196_Ready_To_Wear_-_final_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15am EDT

In this episode, we look back on the one day of the year that New Yorkers look forward.  New Years Eve is the one night that millions of people around the world focus their attentions on New York City -- or more specifically, on the wedge shaped building in Times Square wearing a bright, illuminated ball on its rooftop.

In the 19th century, the ringing-in of the New Year was celebrated with gatherings near Trinity Church and a pleasant New Years Day custom of visiting young women in their parlors.  But when the New York Times decided to celebrate the opening of their new offices -- in the plaza that would take the name Times Square -- a new tradition was born.

Tens of millions have visited Times Square over the years, gazing up to watch the electric ball drop, a time-telling mechanism taken from the maritime tradition. The event has been affected by world events -- from Prohibition to World War II -- and changed by the introduction of radio and television broadcasts.

ALSO: What happened to the celebration which it reached the gritty 1970s and a Times Square with a surly reputation?

PLUS: A few tips for those of you heading to the New Years Eve celebration this year!

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 195_Midnight_In_Times_Square_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:55pm EDT