Who Murdered Helen Jewett? A horrible crime exposes New York’s darkest secret

PODCAST The story of a brutal murder in a New York brothel and the prime suspect’s controversial trial which captivated Americans in the 1830s. In the spring of 1836, a young woman named Helen Jewett was brutally murdered with a hatchet in a townhouse brothel on Thomas Street, just a few blocks northwest from New York City … Continue reading Who Murdered Helen Jewett? A horrible crime exposes New York’s darkest secret

A handy guide to the most loathsome saloons on the Bowery in 1903

Many of the bars and taverns found on the Bowery today are unfortunately clean, friendly and even trendy establishments, wonderful safe places to meet with friends and family. Not a ruffian or scoundrel in sight. Where’s the fun in that?! Of course, for most of its history, the Bowery was one of the most notorious places … Continue reading A handy guide to the most loathsome saloons on the Bowery in 1903

The Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Revolution: The Story of the First Bikini

THE FIRST PODCAST In 1907, the professional swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested on a Massachusetts beach for wearing a revealing bathing suit — a skin-tight black ensemble which covered most of her body. Less than forty years later, in 1946, the owner of a Parisian lingerie shop named Louis Réard invented the bikini, perhaps the smallest … Continue reading The Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Revolution: The Story of the First Bikini

Where was Manhattan Square? The Gilded Age remaking of a neglected park

Theodore Roosevelt Park (77th and 81st Streets, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue), which contains the beloved American Museum of Natural History, is the oldest developed section of the Upper West Side, purchased by the city in 1839 as a possible strolling park to be called Manhattan Square. Central Park was but a gleam in the eye back … Continue reading Where was Manhattan Square? The Gilded Age remaking of a neglected park

NYC Urbanism: A spectacular snapshot dip into New York City history

The photo sharing service Instagram is a tricky site if you’re a history buff. By design, it’s meant to capture the immediate moment, often drenched in a filter to make things seem nostalgic or historic. The Bowery Boys have an Instagram account if you’d like to follow us along there, although we are mostly just documenting … Continue reading NYC Urbanism: A spectacular snapshot dip into New York City history

New York: The first federal capital and birthplace of the Bill of Rights

PODCAST Part Two of our two-part series on New York City in the years following the Revolutionary War. During a handful of months in 1789 and 1790, representatives of the new nation of the United States came together in New York City to make decisions which would forever affect the lives of Americans. In this second part of … Continue reading New York: The first federal capital and birthplace of the Bill of Rights

Frederick Douglass and the life saver of Lispenard Street

In the early and mid-nineteenth century, the Underground Railroad secretly escorted tens of thousands of Southern slaves to Northern destinations, where slavery was illegal. The African American publisher David Ruggles was born a freeman in Connecticut and moved to New York to energize the emerging abolitionist move- meant via the New York Vigilance Committee, one … Continue reading Frederick Douglass and the life saver of Lispenard Street

Happy birthday Langston Hughes! A few stops in Harlem to celebrate

Since I was a teenager, I’ve had an affinity for writer Langston Hughes, the revolutionary jazz poet who was born 115 years ago today in 1902. I grew up in Springfield, Mo., about an hour away from Langston’s birthplace in Joplin. One of the brightest lights of the Harlem Renaissance grew up here?, I frequently pondered in English class. … Continue reading Happy birthday Langston Hughes! A few stops in Harlem to celebrate

This Morbid Invention: The Terrible Story of the First Electric Chair

THE FIRST PODCAST The story of how electricity became a tool of death for the state of New York and the strange circumstances behind the invention of the electric chair. The harnessing of electricity by the great inventors of the Gilded Age introduced the world to the miracle of light at all hours of the day. … Continue reading This Morbid Invention: The Terrible Story of the First Electric Chair