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?

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

Nellie Bly was a determined and fearless journalist ahead of her time, known for the spectacular lengths she would go to get a good story. Her reputation was built on the events of late September-early October 1887 -- the ten days she spent in an insane asylum.

Since the 1830s Blackwell's Island had been the destination for New York's public institutions of an undesirable nature -- hospitals for grave diseases, a penitentiary, an almshouse, even a quarantine for smallpox. There was also a mental institution -- an insane or lunatic asylum -- rumored to treat its patients most cruelly.

The ambitious young reporter decided to see for herself -- by acting like a woman who had lost her mind. Her ten days in this particular madhouse -- the basis of her newspaper articles and a book -- would expose the world to the sinister treatment of the mentally ill and the loathsome conditions of New York institutions meant to care for the most needy.

But would the process of getting this important story lead Nellie herself to go a little mad? And once she got inside the asylum, how would she get out?

ALSO: Not only is a vestige of the asylum still around today, you can live in it!

Direct download: 194_Nellie_Bly_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EST

St. Mark's Place may be named for a saint but it's been a street full of sinners for much of its history. 

One of the most fascinating streets in the city, St. Mark's traces its story back to Peter Stuyvesant, meets up with the wife of Alexander Hamilton in the 1830s, experiences the incredible influx of German and Polish immigrants, then veers into the heart of counter-culture -- from the political activism of Abbie Hoffman to the glamorously detached parties of Andy Warhol. 

And that's when the party gets started! St. Mark's is known for music, fashion, rebellion and pandemonium. Let it be known -- this is one of the wildest, most creative, most exciting streets in New York City history. 

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 193_St._Marks_Place.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:15pm EST

Don't be frightened! It's the ninth annual Bowery Boys ghost stories podcast. We're here to guide you through the back alleys ... OF TERROR!

In this installment, we take a look at the spectral lore behind some of New York City's most famous landmarks, buildings with great reputations as iconic architectural marvels and locations for great creativity. 

But they're also filled with ghost stories:

Who are the mysterious sisters in colorful outerwear skating on the icy pond in Central Park? And why are there so many uninvited guests at the Dakota Apartments, one of the first and finest buildings on the Upper West Side?

Meanwhile, at the Chelsea Hotel, all the intense creativity that is associated with this great and important location seems to have left an imprint of the afterworld upon its hallways.

Over at Grand Central Terminal, the Campbell Apartment serves up some cocktails -- and a few unnatural encounters with Jazz Age spirits.

Finally, on the Brooklyn Bridge, a tragedy during its construction has left its shadow upon the modern tourist attraction. Who's that up ahead on the pedestrian pathway?

A little spooky fun -- mixed with a lot of interesting history -- and a few cheesy sound effects!

www.boweryboyshistory.com

 

Direct download: 192_Haunted_Landmarks_of_New_York.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:47pm EST

A little after midnight on September 21, 1776, the Fighting Cocks Tavern on Whitehall Street caught on fire. The drunken revelers inside the tavern were unable to stop the blaze, and it soon raged into a dangerous inferno, spreading up the west side of Manhattan.

Some reports state that the fire started accidentally in the tavern fireplace. But was it actually set on purpose – on the orders of George Washington?

To understand that damning speculation, we unfurl the events that lead up to that moment – from the first outrages against the British by American colonists to the first sparks of the Revolutionary War. Why did New York get caught up so early in the war and what were the circumstances that led to the city falling into British hands?

Underneath this expansive story is another, smaller story – that of a young man on a spy mission, sent by Washington into enemy territory.  His name was Nathan Hale, and his fate would intersect with the disastrous events of September 21, 1776.

PLUS:  The legacy of St. Paul’s Chapel, a lasting reminder not only of the Great Fire of 1776 but of an even greater disaster which occurred almost exactly 225 years later.
 
www.boweryboyshistory.com
 
This episode is brought to you by Trunk Club, taking the hassle out of shopping by shipping you a trunk of clothes that fit perfectly and make you look like a million bucks. To take advantage of this unique styling service and to support the Bowery Boys, go to trunkclub.com/BOWERY for a trunk full of clothes that you’ll love wearing

Direct download: 191_Great_Fire_of_1776.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49pm EST

 The gripping and startling 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 Soper locate a mysterious woman who may be unwittingly spreading this dire illness?

Mary Mallon -- is she a victim or an enemy? One of the weirdest and divisive tales of the early 1900s. What side are you on?

 

www.boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 190_Typhoid_Mary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58pm EST

In this episode, we recount almost 175 years of getting around New York in a private ride.  The hansom, the romantic rendition of the horse and carriage, took New Yorkers around during the Gilded Age. But unregulated conduct by ‘nighthawks’ and the messy conditions of streets due to horses demanded a more sophisticated solution.

At first it seemed the electric car would save the day but the technology proved inadequate.  In 1907 came the first gas-propelled automobile cabs to New York, officially ‘taxis’ due to a French invention installed in the front seat.

By the 1930s the streets were filled with thousands of taxicabs. During the Great Depression, cab drivers fought against plunging fare and even waged a strike in Times Square. In 1937, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia debuted the medallion system as a way to keep the streets regulated.

By the 1970s many cabdrivers faced an upswing of crime that made picking up passengers even more dangerous than bad traffic.  Drivers began ignoring certain fares – mainly from African-Americans – which gave rise to the neighborhood livery cab system.

Today New York taxicab fleets face a different threat – Uber and the rise of private app-based transportation services. Will the taxi industry rise to the challenge in time for the debut of their ‘taxi of tomorrow’?
 
Boweryboyshistory.com

Direct download: 189_Taxi_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28pm EST