Tag Archives: Bowery Boys

The Bowery Boys book is here at last PLUS: Info on our new live appearance

We want to offer heartfelt thanks to the many people who came out to our first live book event last Thursday night at the Museum of the City of New York.  It was a packed house that evening to hear us speak about our new book Adventures In Old New York with moderator Donald Albrecht. Afterwards, we did our very first (OMG!) book signing and got to meet a lot of you there. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of a very important night for us.  Check out the bottom of this post to see some images from that evening.

If you didn’t get to go to that one, we’ll be having several more events throughout the summer and fall. I’ll be posting the information as soon as I get it.

Our next appearance will be the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York on Tuesday, June 28, at 6:30 pm.  If you’re interested, definitely book early, as the last event sold out. Here’s the details:

“How much do you really know about NYC’s history? Introducing  a special program celebrating the launch of The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York, the official companion book to the No. 1 travel podcast that offers an unconventional exploration of Manhattan’s historic neighborhoods, secret spots and colorful characters. The Bowery Boys  – Greg Young and Tom Meyers – will be here to discuss among other things,”Top Ten Hidden Secrets” of New York.

20 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)

To register please  email: meg.stanton@generalsociety.org. Advance registration is recommended.

Just $10 General admission. Further info here.

And if you can’t make this one, many more to come….


The book is finally here! If you pre-ordered it, you should be getting it in the mail this week or early next week.  If you’d like to pre-order it, head on over to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or visit your local independent book store in person. This should be popping up everyone — including international sales. AND digital versions — like this one for the Nook or the one at iTunes.

 

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And there are a few press appearances on the way. SPOILER ALERT: Check our your copy of the New York Post this weekend.  Also Brick Underground has a nice write-up from our event at the museum last Thursday (but a pretty cool picture of us). Read that here.

Courtesy Benjamin Stone Photography
Courtesy Benjamin Stone Photography

 


 

Oh AND a new podcast this Friday. For this week’s subject, we go way, way, way back….


And finally here are the photos from last Thursday’s event:
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That’s Tom’s brother Ben holding a hot-off-the-presses copy:

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Bowery Boys Odds and Ends: The Knick, Podcast Interview, Live Show Pictures

STAGE TO STAGE:  Thanks to everybody who came out to the live show this Sunday at 54 Below! It was especially wonderful to hang out with many of you between the two shows.  Special thanks of course to The Ensemblist podcast hosts Mo Brady and Nikka Graff Lanarone for leading the show, and music maestro Jasper Grant for holding it all together.

We were blessed to have an extraordinary roster of music guests to help tell the story of the St. James Theatre through music —  Krystina Alabado (Evita, American Idiot), Lauren Elder (Side ShowJason Gotay (Bring It On, Peter Pan Live!), Grasan Kingsberry (Motown) and Angie Schworer (Something Rotten).

Big news — the show was a roaring success so we will be planning more live events for 2016!

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Photo by Robb Johnston

Angie Schworer performing a number from The Producers which she sang numerous times from the stage at the St. James.

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Photo by Robb Johnston

Grasan Kingsberry performing “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever.” He also kicked off the show with a number from Oklahoma!

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Photo by Robb Johnston

Jason Gotay, performing a number he originated at the St. James Theatre from the musical Bring It On.

Courtesy The Ensemblist
Photo by Robb Johnston

 

Courtesy The Ensemblist
Courtesy The Ensemblist

They gave us Linda Lavin’s dressing room! We were singing the theme song to Alice all evening.

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The show was recorded so we are working on a way to provide it for our listeners. So stay tuned.

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THE IAN GLEASON SHOW: Want to hear some scoop about how we produce the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast?  I was recently interviewed by podcast host Ian Gleason, talking about the processing of recording a history show.  We had a great talk and I think you’ll enjoy listening!  You can download it from iTunes or SoundCloud.  Or you can listen to it right here:

 

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BOOK NEWS: We are furiously plugging away at producing the very first Bowery Boys: New York City History book.  We can’t give you the exact release date, but I can tell you to look for it in SPRING/EARLY SUMMER 2016.  Because of all the research and writing for the book, blog updates have been occasionally slow but I hope to return to more frequent posts once the book is completed.

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NEW PODCAST ON FRIDAY: We hope you’re feeling healthy enough for it (hint, hint).

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TWITTER FRIDAY:  Since I’ve been working on the book all this year, I haven’t been able to do history related Tweet-along with New York City history-themed television shows.  But the new season of The Knick begins on Friday, October 16, so how can I resist?

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History in the Making (9/9): So Many Vices Edition

In this blog roundup, a Bowery Boys appearance in Vice, a threat to preservation, a classic restaurant closes, the story of two hotels with very different histories and more!

In the photo above and below — From the Museum of the City of New York collection, some images of the so-called Prize Fighters Saloon (at Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street) owned by boxer James J. Corbett.

LINKS OF INTEREST

— Vice Magazine’s John Surico wrote a great piece called ‘Why New Yorkers Love New York” and interviewed the Bowery Boys for it! Also — if you want to see us dressed in ridiculous Mermaid Parade costumes, you should definitely check this out. [Vice Magazine]

— An inconceivable and dangerous threat to New York landmark preservation is being debated at City Hall today.  “Intro. 775 would for the first time impose ‘do-or-die’ timeframes for buildings and neighborhoods being considered for landmark designation. If the deadlines are not met, buildings and neighborhoods, no matter how worthy or endangered, would automatically be disqualified for designation.” [Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation]

—  Destruction update! The beloved original location of The Palm restaurant — with its quirky wall of murals — has been closed for good. “The beloved hand painted caricatures were housed on walls made of plaster, which made it impossible to remove the caricatures for preservation purposes.” [Vanishing New York]

Below: The exterior of Corbett’s Prize Fighters Saloon:

Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

 

— The spectacular tale of the Pierrepont Hotel in Herald Square, built in 1898 as a rare residential hotel for unmarried men.   “It is not so very long ago that the bachelor was not considered to be entitled much consideration; any old thing was good enough for him….” [Daytonian In Manhattan]

— That rather strange, kinda seedy, little-Flatiron hotel in Chelsea called the Liberty Hotel?  That building has actually been standing there for well over one hundred years. Oh if only those walls could speak! [Ephemeral New York]

— Some rather sweet and amusing images pop up in this New York Times photo essay on the first day of school through the years. [New York Times]

— “The coolest place to eat is outside a smallpox hospital.[New York Post]

TICKETS ARE GOING FAST for our live event with The Ensemblist this Sunday, September 13th, at 54 Below.  Click here for more information or go directly to 54 Below’s website to get your tickets!

Below: Another look at the interior of Corbett’s fancy saloon.

Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

 

The Bowery Boys — Live on Broadway! (well, for one night anyway)

Many of you have asked if we were ever going to do a live event in the near future. Finally you can see us live this September for one night only AND on Broadway!

The Bowery Boys are pairing up with The Ensemblist podcast (hosted by wonderful Mo Brady and Nikka Graff Lanzarone) to present a one of a kind event — the history of an iconic Broadway theater featuring musical performances by people who have performed there.

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The star of our show is the St. James Theatre, a Broadway stage which opened in 1927 on the spot of the original Sardi’s Restaurant. It was here that many great Broadway musicals originated including Oklahoma!, The King and I, The Pajama Game and Hello Dolly.  Most recently the theater was prominently featured in the Oscar-winning film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) with Michael Keaton and Emma Stone.

We’ll be discussing some of the history of this classic theater amid an entire roster of Broadway singers performing music that the St. James made famous.  The line-up is tbd at this point but we’ll present the names of the performers as soon as we have them.

This is going to be a cabaret extravaganza — so naturally the show will be held at one of New York’s greatest cabaret spaces — 54 Below (254 W. 54th Street).  This is the basement of the former Studio 54. Maybe we’ll dress up like Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger?!

This is a ONE NIGHT ONLY event— two shows on Sunday, September 13, 2015.  Visit their website for more information about the show and CLICK HERE to get your tickets.

See you on Broadway!  And if you’re a fan of theater and the performing arts, subscribe to The Ensemblist podcast.

 

Below: The cast of Oklahoma! at the St. James Theatre (1943) and Edward Norton and Emma Stone on the roof of the St. James.

Courtesy the Billy Rose Collection, New York Public Library
Courtesy the Billy Rose Collection, New York Public Library

 

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Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

History in the Making 4/9: The Appomattox Surrender Edition

“PEACE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE SO DISTANT”: One hundred and fifty years ago today,  Robert E Lee surrendered the Virginia army to Ulysses S. Grant. This ended the American Civil War, more or less. It took several days for the news to get around of course. The last recognized battle of the Civil War — the battle of Palmito Ranch — was actually fought over a month after the surrender, on May 12-13.

Here’s how the New York Times celebrated the victory on April 10, 1865.HANG OUT YOUR BANNERS!!”

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And the New York Sun. “OUR NATION REDEEMED!” 

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And the New York Tribune. “THE REBELLION ENDED!”

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Celebrations would be cut short. What would be the most tragic refrain of the closing war lay just a few days away.

Check our the Bowery Boys ‘New York City In The Civil War‘ series be did back in 2011, including shows on scoundrel mayor Fernando Wood, The Civil War Draft Riots, and the Hoaxes and Conspiracies of 1864.

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THE BOWERY BOYS NEWSLETTER IS BACK! Our newsletter is better than ever, giving you updates on Bowery Boys related events right to your email. We send it out biweekly featuring some of the highlights from the blog and social media. PLUS we’ll give hints as to some of the other exciting stuff we’re working on in 2015.  To sign up, just fill in the short form in the left-hand sidebar here on the blog.

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YOU ARE THE BEST! Thanks to all of you who have donated through PayPal or signed up as a patron of the Bowery Boys through the Patreon service.   This is a critical year of growth for us as we look to double the number of podcasts we do in a year PLUS debut a whole new set of New York City history-related projects. Including a book, arriving in 2016!  We couldn’t do it without you. [Patreon]

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VOTE IN THE WEBBY AWARDS:  Some of you may remember a series of articles I wrote about the history of New  York City in 1981, for a website called NYC.1981 which was a tie-in to the film A Most Violent Year starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.

The blog was just nominated for a Webby Award for Best General Blog – Cultural!  Voting for the Webby Awards is free. Just go over to the official Webby Awards site and vote for your favorites.  If you’d like to check out my work of the site before you vote, you can find it all here.  [Webby Awards]

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#SAVENYC EVENT: The fire that devastated the East Village two weeks ago affected the livelihood of many businesses in the vicinity of this tragedy.  On Saturday #SAVENYC is organizing a ‘cash mob’ to bring customers back to this area of the East Village. Head on down to Second Avenue this Saturday and support some of these great mom-and-pop business. In particular pop into B&H Dairy, one of the oldest operating diners in all of Manhattan. [Jeremiah’s Vanishing New  York]

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RETURN TO 1777 and 1970: And finally….it’s the return of two New York City history-related television shows on AMC — the final season of Mad Men (Sundays, 10pm EST) and the second season of Turn: Washington’s Spies (Monday, 9pm EST).  I will be Tweeting live during both shows so follow me on Twitter at @boweryboys for trivia and entertaining tidbits about the historical events being depicted. (No plot spoilers, I promise!)

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A celebration of New York City and the Leonard Nimoy Thalia

Last night the Guides Association of New York City (GANYC) presented their first-ever GANYC Apple Awards at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater (part of Symphony Space), honoring accomplishments in preservation, history, museum exhibition and tourism. It was a rather lively evening, thanks to the night’s hilarious hosts Kevin James Doyle and Olivia Petzy whom you may know from the off-Broadway hit How 2 B A New Yorker.

The institutions and individuals honored at the ceremony last night include:

— Tour guide Justin Ferate (New York City Walking Tours)

—  the Friends of the High Line

— Christopher Gray and his Streetscapes column for the New York Times

William Helmreich and his book The New York Nobody Knows: 6,000 Miles In The City

— The Museum of the City of New York‘s exhibition Palaces For the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile

Kathleen O’Connor from the New-York Historical Society

Russ & Daughters, the Lower East Side appetizing shop celebrating its 100 years of business last year

— Kevin Walsh and Forgotten New York

And a lifetime achievement award was presented to artist James Turrell who transformed the Guggenheim Museum in 2013 into a surreal cathedral of light.

And look who else won an award!

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Thank you GANYC for this incredible honor! We are truly grateful for the recognition. Actually we were just honored to be invited in the first place so this was especially humbling! It was quite fantastic seeing all these different kinds of people — journalists, curators, filmmakers, politicians, tour guides, entertainers — together in one room to celebrate New York’s rich culture and historical legacy.

The award was presented to us by Ethel Sheffer from the Municipal Art Society who prefaced it with a moving tribute to her husband  Isaiah Sheffer, the founder of Symphony Space, and the man who helped save the very theater we were sitting in — Leonard Nimoy!

The building which contains the theater today was built one hundred years ago as an indoor market, owned by the Astor family.  In 1931 the basement was converted into the Thalia Theater. (Thalia is the ancient Greek Muse of comedy and idyllic poetry.)  To quote GANYC award winner in his history of the Thalia:

“Generations of Thalia patrons have assumed that its oddly sloping floor – with a depression in the middle – was the result of poor planning or unusual site conditions. But the Thalia’s parabolic reverse floor – apparently the first of its kind in the country – was just what its designer, Ben Schlanger, intended.

In Mr. Schlanger’s view, most movie theaters were poor adaptations of theater designs. The Thalia incorporated not only Mr. Schlanger’s patented floor system – designed to give everyone in the audience the same view of the screen – but also lighting, seating and projection provisions intended specifically for movie presentations.”

The Thalia is best known for showing art house movies and classic film revivals for decades. One might even say it was archetypal of the Upper West Side experience, immortalized in the movie Annie Hall.

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Martin Scorsese attributes part of his cinematic education to the Thalia:  “That’s where I learned about films. I saw my first Eisenstein there: Alexander Nevsky. I also saw the Yiddish film series there: The Dybbuk and Green Fields and the films of Edgar G. Ulmer. It was the late 50’s. I saw Citizen Kane there and it was amazing on the big screen — well, the little screen. The films were programmed so that there was no intermission: one would end and the other would begin. It was really hard core. It was better than film school. It really was.” [source]

It was actually renowned for being a bit of a dump. According to GANYC nominee Clyde Haberman: “The air in the theater seemed left over from F.D.R.’s third term. Your seat was no thrill, either. It was upright, uncomfortable and usually torn. Pillars stood between it and the screen.”

The theater finally closed in 1987.  Its final screening was a double bill: The Night of the Shooting Stars and Paisan. During the 1990s,  its classic Art Deco interiors were removed to some controversy.  But its ultimate savior would come in the form of a science-fiction icon.

Leonard Nimoy, forever beloved as Spock from Star Trek, does have a background in theater — in 1977, he even performed in Equus on Broadway — and his work would sometimes be performed at Symphony Space.

By 2001, he was living in the Upper West Side, mostly occupied with his work as an acclaimed photographer.  Nimoy donated $1.5 million to the complete renovation of the theater which finally reopened in April 2002. In honor of the donation, the theater was renamed in his honor.  And,  honestly, the Leonard Nimoy Thalia just sounds cool too.

Photo by Seth Kaye, courtesy Buzzfeed
Photo by Seth Kaye, courtesy Buzzfeed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bowery Boys blog — upgrade underway!

As you can tell, the Bowery Boys: New York City History blog is going through some big changes.  We’ve moved to a new platform and new URL (boweryboyshistory.com).  However it will take us a few days to readjust everything and get it all up and running.  All the content will be available, but it may be pretty chaotic looking for a bit.  Thank  you for your patience!

 

Photograph courtesy AP
(More info here)

Goodbye 2014! The top stories on the Bowery Boys blog

Happy 2015 to everyone! We want to thank you for listening to the show this year, checking in with the blog and following along with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Lots of incredible things in store for the next year so we hope to see you throughout the next year.

For a look back here on the blog, here are the top five most read articles from 2014.

1) Knickerbocker Hospital: An inspiration for Cinemax’s The Knick

2) Inside Gimbals traverse, the secret perch hear Herald Square

3) Screaming Phantoms, Tomahawks, Phantom Lords, Dirty Ones and other gangs of 1970s Williamsburg, Brooklyn

4) The real Muppets Take Manhattan: 21 wacky historical details from Jim Henson’s Big Apple adventure

5) The first-ever film of a New York City blizzard 

The Bowery Boys and Marvel Comics! Plus: Guardian Angels and a special holiday surprise on Christmas

THIS WEEK IN MARVEL
The Bowery Boys are guest stars on this week’s official Marvel Comics podcast This Week In Marvel hosted by those virtual Avengers and Marvel editors Ryan Penagos and Ben Morse.  We had an absolute blast recording this, talking about how New York City has implanted itself into the fabric of the Marvel Comics universe and some of its most popular characters like Spider-Man, Captain America and the X-Men.

What do Dr. Strange and Bob Dylan have in common?  What superhero was created to monopolize upon New York City’s 1970s disco scene?  What famous mystery author got her start writing comics?  Why might comic books be partially responsible for my love of New York City?  ALSO: Is Tom Meyers a member of HYDRA?

You can listen to the show here and also download it from their iTunes page. [This Week In Marvel]

We’re probably still very far away from getting our own blockbuster film, but this does get us one step closer than we were yesterday.

NYC, 1981 – THE RISE OF THE GUARDIAN ANGELS
And now for a different sort of superhero!  Over at the A24 Films 1981 website (ramping up for next week’s release of A Most Violent Year with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain) I write about the origins of the Guardian Angels, the independent squadron of subway defenders who patrolled the city streets despite some initial objections from the city.

Included with my article are some outright amazing photographs of the Guardian Angels’ early days, taken by Geoffrey Hiller.

Check it all out right here: [1981]

THE BOWERY BOYS YEAR IN REVIEW ROUNDUP
And we have a special holiday surprise for you — a new podcast this Friday!  We present to you the first annual Bowery Boys year in review.  Just update your podcast feed tomorrow or subscribe to the Bowery Boys on iTunes to get it first.

A Special Year-End Podcast: Ask the Bowery Boys!

For the end of the year, we’re going to try a new experiment — a year-end question show, where we ‘unplug’ for a bit and answer reader’s mail. Give you a true behind-the-scenes of how we produce the show and what our personal thoughts are about New York City and history in general.  This is our thanks to you for helping us make it through another terrific year of podcasts.

Do you have anything you want to ask us — about New York City, about the making of the podcast, about ourselves? Favorite shows or favorites places in the city?  Just email us at boweryboysnyc@earthlink.net and put ASK THE BOWERY BOYS in the header.  We will go through your questions and read some of them on the air.  We’ll also give you a shout-out for sending in the question.

NOTE: We want to keep this bonus show easy since it’s our vacation show so please save any particular historical quandaries for another email.

In the meantime, we’ll have another full-length podcast for you in a couple weeks.

Above: Sammy’s Bowery Follies, pic courtesy New York Public Library.  This show was a throwback anything-goes style entertainment which ran in a theater at 267 Bowery for over 35 years. More information on the Bowery Follies here.