The top Bowery Boys podcast episodes of 2018 — Thanks for making this an amazing year!

By the end of 2018, we will have released 31 episodes of the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast (30 so far and 1 to go next week), making this the busiest year in our own history since 2007, the year we started recording the show.

And it’s all because of your continued support and listenership. Thank you for listening to our show and attending our live events this year. And we hope that you’ll continue to join us in 2019. Things are just getting bigger and better!

On our podcast in 2017, we met inspiring figures like Madam C.J. Walker and Emma Lazarus. We traveled along the Underground Railroad and entered the New York City subway on its very first day. We visited treasured spaces (Grand Central), doomed landmarks (Penn Station), curious public places (Riverside Park), endangered cultural spots (Tin Pan Alley) and one of the world’s most beloved sporting venues (Ebbets Field).

We explored a few tumultuous 19th century moments — the shocking murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell, the astonishing saga of the Atlantic Cable, the paralyzing Great Blizzard of 1888.  We walked the streets of Manhattan’s Tribeca and Brooklyn Dumbo neighborhoods. In Hell’s Kitchen, we discovered the marvelous roots of stand-up comedy and a whole bunch of chilling ghost stories. We followed Harry Houdini into the realm of the magical, and Big Edie and Little Edie to their Long Island escape Grey Gardens. Just last week we took off with the story of battling airports Newark vs. LaGuardia.

And of course we spent a whole lot of time with Peter Stuyvesant!

What follows is a list of our ten most popular shows in 2018 (measuring from December 2017 to today), measuring plays from all your favorite podcast players. Did your favorite Bowery Boys episode make the list? We’ve embedded a player for each episode so you can listen to them all:



10) Counter Culture: A History of Automats, Luncheonettes and Diners in New York City

Who doesn’t love a big slice of delicious nostalgia? We loved researching this story of classic eateries — from the oyster saloons of Old New York to the sleek automats of Midtown — and we might have gained a couple pounds while doing so.

BEST MOMENT: Our survey of luncheon menu options from the late 19th century, courtesy the New York Public Library menu collection. Sardine sandwiches — for a quarter!


9) The Secrets of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

One of New York City’s greatest houses of worship happens to be one of its most mysterious, thanks to a few surprising twists of history that inform its unique patchwork of styles. We’re particularly in love with this show because we were honored to host the cathedral’s 125th anniversary birthday party.

BEST MOMENT: Our on-site walking tour through the cathedral — from the crypt to the rooftop – with tour guide Bill Schneberger.


8) Crossing to Brooklyn: How the Williamsburg Bridge Changed New York City

This week the Williamsburg Bridge celebrates its 115th birthday, but you’ve been celebrating this treasure of the East River for the whole year by making this episode a surprising hit.  Now that Domino Park is now open, you can now go listen to show while standing almost directly below the bridge on the Brooklyn side.

BEST MOMENT: The story of how the bridge encouraged the development of Brooklyn’s Hasidic community.


7) Broadway: The Story of a Street

The story of New York City’s most famous street is really a story of the city itself. The show begins at Bowling Green and works its way all the way north through Manhattan.

BEST MOMENT:  Tom is joined here by Fran Leadon, the author of Broadway: A History of New York in 13 Miles.


Museum of the City of New York

6) The Empire State Building: Story of an Icon

We provide you with a free trip to New York’s most famous skyscraper should the crowds of tourists discourage you from actually visiting its iconic observation deck.

BEST MOMENT: This also happened to be the 250th episode of the Bowery Boys podcast.


5) New York during the Revolutionary War

We released this show on the week before Independence Day, getting into the spirit by recounting New York’s tragic role in the war for independence from British rule.

BEST MOMENT: A description of the condition of the city during British occupation. A scene of unspeakable chaos!


4) Life In New Amsterdam

We hope you enjoyed this vivid walk-through of the first European settlement on Manhattan island, in the old Dutch years before the arrival of Peter Stuyvesant (whose exploits were covered in the following show).

BEST MOMENT:  On our visit to the New Netherland Research Center in Albany, Greg got to see the Pieter Schaghen letter outlining the purchase of the island of Manhattan.


3) Tales From A Tenement: Three Families Under One Roof

Tom strolls through tenement apartment recreations at the Tenement Museum with guide Annie Polland*, looking at the lives of those who lived in the Lower East Side. The families are the Epstein family, the Saez-Velez family, and the Wong family. The Epsteins were Holocaust survivors who moved into the building in the 1950s, the Saez-Velez family moved in during the 60s and were led by a mother who left Puerto Rico and worked as a seamstress here, and the Wong family, whose mother raised the family while working in Chinatown garment shops, moved in during the 1970s

BEST MOMENT: Listen closely for that plastic-covered couch.

*You also heard Polland this year in our Emma Lazarus show. Thanks to her, we got to inspect Lazarus’ journal which included the poem “The New Colossus.”


2) The Landmarks of Coney Island

We’re not gonna lie — this was our favorite show of the year! After all, we recorded the show at Coney Island on the boardwalk, sometimes with beer and hot dogs in hand. We even recorded on the Wonder Wheel.

BEST MOMENT: Keeping the recording equipment on while riding through the haunted house ride.


1) Absolutely Flawless: The History of Drag In New York

Drag is having a fabulous moment in American pop culture but there’s very little available on the history of drag performers overall. So hopefully this episode will inspire a budding young historian to put together a book on this fascinating subject. The story of drag in New York is really a tale of race and class divisions in New York City over the past century, viewed from the perspective of LGBT community.

Perhaps no detail fascinated us more in 2018 than looking at the uptown/downtown divide in the world of drag, both evolving into vibrant, influential forms of art by the late 20th century.

BEST MOMENT: The entire second half! Greg is joined by special guests Felix Rodriguez, a videographer of the ballroom culture (made famous in the landmark documentary Paris Is Burning) and Linda Simpson, one of the great stars of the East Village drag scene.