New York City History: The Bowery Boys
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?

The Broadway Musical is one of New York City's greatest inventions, 150 years in the making! It's one of the truly American art forms, fueling one of the city's most vibrant entertainment businesses and defining its most popular tourist attraction -- Times Square.

But why Broadway, exactly? Why not the Bowery or Fifth Avenue? And how did our fair city go from simple vaudeville and minstrel shows to 'Shuffle Along', 'Irene' and 'Show Boat', surely the beginning of the truly modern American musical?

This podcast is an epic and wild musical adventure in itself, full of musical interludes, zipping through the evolution of musical entertainment in New York City, as it races up the 'main seam' of Manhattan -- the avenue of Broadway.  We are proud to present a tour up Broadway, past some of the greatest theaters and shows that have ever won acclaim here, from the wacky (and highly copied) imports of Gilbert & Sullivan to the dancing girls and singing sensations of the Jazz Age.

STARRING: Well, some of the biggest names in songwriting, composing and singing. And even a dog who talks in German!

And featuring our new sponsor Squarespace!

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Twitter: boweryboys

Direct download: 159_The_Broadway_Musical__Setting_the_Stage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55 AM

The Hotel Theresa is considered a genuine (if under-appreciated) Harlem treasure, 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 artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance and its burgeoning music scene, was soon home mostly those who identified as black.  But many of the businesses here refused to serve black patrons, or at least certainly made them unwelcome.

The Theresa changed its policy in 1940 and soon its lobby was filled with famous athletes, actresses and politicians, many choosing to live at the Hotel Theresa over other hotels in Manhattan.  The hotel's relative small size made it an interesting concentration of America's most renown black celebrities.

In this podcast, I give you a tour of this glamorous scene, from the corner bar to the penthouse, from the breakfast table of Joe Louis to the crazy parties of Dinah Washington.

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Direct download: 158_Hotel_Theresa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:01 AM

This is the Bowery Boys 7th annual Halloween podcast, with four new scary stories to chill your bones and keep you up at night, generally doused with strange and fascinating facts about New York City.

For this episode, we've decided to go truly old-school, reaching back to old legends and tales from the years of the Revolutionary War and early 19th century.  These ghosts have two things in common -- George Washington (directly or indirectly) and ghosts! Although no ghosts of George Washington.

We venture to the haunted woods of Van Cortlandt Park for the tale of an Indian massacre and a forlorn servant girl, looking for her master's silver.  From there, we head to the early days of Greenwich Village and a tormented vice president waiting for his daughter's return.  Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn, the ruins of an old Revolutionary War fort provide the setting for a horrific tale of a late-night booze run gone wrong.  And, finally, no Bowery Boys Halloween podcast would be complete without the ghost of a dramatic actor -- in this case, one without his head!

www.boweryboyspodcast.com


Direct download: 157_Early_Ghost_Stories_of_Old_New_York.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:56 AM

As New York City enters the final stages of this year's mayoral election, let's look back on a decidedly more unusual contest 100 years ago, pitting Tammany Hall and their estranged ally (Mayor William Jay Gaynor) up against a baby-faced newcomer, the (second) youngest man to eventually become the mayor of New York City.

John Purroy Mitchel, the Bronx-born grandson of an Irish revolutionary, was a rising star in New York, aggressively sweeping away incompetence and snipping away at government excess.  Under his watch, two of New York's borough presidents were fired, just for being ineffectual!  Mitchel made an ideal candidate for mayor in an era where Tammany Hall cronyism still dominated the nature of the five boroughs.

Nobody could predict the strange events which befell the city during the election of 1913, unfortunate and even bizarre incidents which catapulted this young man to City Hall and gave him the nickname the Boy Mayor of New York.

But things did not turn out as planned.  He won his election with the greatest victory margin in New York City history.  He left office four years later with an equally large margin of defeat.  Tune in to our tale of this oft-ignored figure in New York City history, an example of good intentions gone wrong and -- due to his tragic end -- the only mayor honored with a memorial in Central Park.

Direct download: 156_The_Boy_Mayor_of_New_York.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:10 AM

In the third part of the Bowery Boys Summer TV Mini-Series, I give you a grand tour of the New York City television production world from the 1970s to today, from the debut of Sesame Street in the Upper West Side to the flourishing 1990s, where the city was represented by a few iconic shows, including Sex And The City and Seinfeld.

Along the way, hear about the debuts of public access, HBO, MTV, the Cosby Show, NY1 and, of course, the TV show that employed thousands of New Yorkers during its two-decade run -- Law and Order.

Bong-bonggg!

Direct download: 155_Sesame_Street_to_Seinfeld.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:50 AM

It's the second part of the Bowery Boys TV Mini-Series, covering the years of New York City television production from the late 1940s to the 1960s. This podcast is arranged a little bit like a leisurely Midtown walking tour, taking you past four of the greatest locations in NYC televison history. And we guide you through the stories of the greatest shows in TV history -- from Howdy Doody to the Ed Sullivan Show!

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Direct download: 154_NYC_in_the_Golden_Age_of_Televison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:24 AM

It's the beginning of The Bowery Boys Summer TV Mini-Series, three podcasts devoted to New York City's illustrious history with broadcast television -- from Sarnoff to Seinfeld!  

In our first show, we go back to the start of the invention of the television and the city's role in both the creation of the complicated technology and the early formation of programming. 

We begin with the Electro Importing Co. and the imagination of one of the greatest names in science fiction. Then head into scientific realities -- the failures of mechnical televisions and the brutal patent wars between RCA's David Sarnoff and one of the great inventors of television, Philo Farnsworth.

In victory, Sarnoff claimed the mantel of 'father of television' at the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens.  It's but one of many great New York City's beloved landmarks with ties to television's early history, from the heights of the Empire State Building to even a floor at Wanamaker's Department Store. And we even go drinking at McSorley's Old Ale House!

ALSO: Why is Greg singing Cole Porter?

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Direct download: 153_NYC_and_the_Invention_of_Television._wav.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24 AM

Bellevue Hospital, you might have heard, once had a very notorious psychiatric ward.  But those horror stories have only distracted from the rather breathtaking -- and heart-breaking -- history of this historic institution, a lifeline not only for the sick, but for the poor, the incarcerated, the abandoned -- even the dead!

The hospital traces its origins to a six-bed almshouse that once sat near the location of New York City Hall today.  Despite its humble and (to the modern eye) confusing original purposes, the almshouse was miles better than the barbaric medical procedures of early New York, courtesy the ominous sounding 'barber-surgeons'.

A series of yellow fever epidemics moved care for the sick to a former mansion called Belle Vue near Murray Hill -- and, in fact, with a strong connection to Murray himself!  Soon the institution fulfilled a variety of roles and in rather ghastly conditions, from 'pest house' to execution ground, from a Pathological Museum to New York's first city morgue.

A great many medical advances came from Bellevue, not least of which the origins of the modern ambulance.  But some of that progress has been obscured by the reputation of the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital which opened in 1931 and 'hosted' a variety of famous people with disturbing issues.  

And in the 1980s,  Bellevue would take on another grim role -- during the most distressing years of the AIDS crisis.

Direct download: 152_Bellevue_Hospital.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:52 AM

If you had told 1840s religious leader William Muhlenberg that his innovative new Church of the Holy Communion, designed by renown architect Richard Upjohn, would become the glittering seat of drugs and debauchery 150 years later, he might have burned it down then and there.

But thankfully, this lovely building is still with us, proving to be one of the most flexible examples of building use in New York City history.

This unusual tale begins with the captivating relationship between Muhlenberg (the grandson of America's first Speaker of the House) and Anna Ayres, the First Sister in charge of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion.  The two of them helped create one of New York's great hospital centers. But was something else going on between them?

The Church of the Holy Communion survives the elevated railroad and the fashionable stores of Ladies Mile, and it weathers the various fortunes of the neighborhood. When it is finally sold and deconsecrated, it briefly houses an intellectual collective and a drug rehabilitation center before being bought by Canadian club impresario Peter Gatien, who turns it into an iconic and sacrilegious symbol of New York nightlife. 

And today, it makes for a truly bizarre retail experience. Warning: This episode might give you whiplash.

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Direct download: 151_The_Limelight__Church_Nightclub_and_Mall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:50 AM

Here's the story of how two very big cities and a whole bunch of small towns and villages -- completely different in nature, from farmland to skyscraper -- became the greatest city in the world.

This is the tale of Greater New York, the forming of the five boroughs into one metropolis, a consolidation of massive civic interests which became official on January 1, 1898.

But this is not a story of interested parties, united in a common goal. In fact, Manhattan (comprising, with some areas north of the Harlem River, the city of New York) was in a bit of a battle with anti-consolidation forces, mostly in Brooklyn, who saw the merging of two biggest cities in America as the end of the noble autonomy for that former Dutch city on the western shore of Long Island.  You'll be stunned to hear how easily it could have all fallen apart!

In this podcast is the story of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island (or Richmond, if you will) and their journey to become one. And how, rather recently in fact, one of those boroughs would grow uncomfortable with the arrangement.

www.boweryboyspodcast.com

Direct download: 150_CONSOLIDATION__Five_Boroughs_One_Big_City.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:23 AM