Tag Archives: Brooklyn Bridge

Haunted Landmarks of New York : Tourist Terrors in the Big Apple

PODCAST It’s the ninth annual Bowery Boys ghost stories podcast, our seasonal twist on history, focusing on famous tales of the weird and the disturbing at some of New York’s most recognizable locations.

Don’t be frightened! 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!

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and TuneIn streaming radio from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #192: HAUNTED LANDMARKS OF NEW YORK

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The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast is brought to you …. by you!

We are now producing a new Bowery Boys podcast every two weeks.  We’re also looking to improve the show in other ways and expand in other ways as well — through publishing, social media, live events and other forms of media.  But we can only do this with your help!

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Please visit our page on Patreon and watch a short video of us recording the show and talking about our expansion plans.  If you’d like to help out, there are five different pledge levels (and with clever names too — Mannahatta, New Amsterdam, Five Points, Gilded Age, Jazz Age and Empire State). Check them out and consider being a sponsor.

We greatly appreciate our listeners and readers and thank you for joining us on this journey so far. And the best is yet to come!

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Two women in fashionable skating garments 1889. Perhaps similar to the ensembles worn by Janet and Rosette Van Der Voort during their ghostly figure eights in Central Park.

New York Public Library
New York Public Library

 

A famous image of the Dakota Apartment — all alone on the Upper West Side landscape — with skaters enjoying the frozen pond on a cold winter’s day.
The_Dakota_1880s

The Dakota photographed in 1890/

Courtesy New York Public Library
Courtesy New York Public Library

 

A haunting illustration by Eliza Greatorex from 1885 showing “The Dakota behind a rock at 72nd Street and Bloomingdale Road.”

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Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

 

The Chelsea Hotel in 1903, one of the premier apartment houses in New York City which eventually became a destination (both short and long-term) for the city’s artistic circles. It also attracted its share of eccentric and even disturbed individuals over the decades.

Internet Book Archvies
Internet Book Archvies

Oh what these floors have seen! The Chelsea in 1936.

Courtesy Berenice Abbott
Courtesy Berenice Abbott

The interiors of the Campbell Apartment, back when it was an actual office. Are the ghosts of former party guests still enjoying the room’s luxurious trappings? More information at this blog post at the Museum of the City of New York. All photos, taking in 1923, by the Wurts Brothers.

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

 

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Courtesy Museum of City of New York

 

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

Workers upon the Brooklyn Bridge, a dangerous work environment where dozens of men were injured over the course of its construction.

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Construction of the approach to the bridge on the New  York side.

MNY146544
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

 

From the New York Times article regarding the unfortunate tragedy on the Brooklyn Bridge. Read the whole article here.

Courtesy New York Times
Courtesy New York Times

The scene at the bridge a few months after the accident — October 1878.

Courtesy New York Times
Courtesy New York Times

 

The picture at top is a reversed negative of the Methodist publishing and mission buildings, corner of Broadway and 11th Street, New York. [source]

Gotham Court and the Lower East Side neighborhood of Cherry Hill

Yesterday I went searching for remnants of the old Cherry Hill neighborhood. There are none, as far as I could tell.

It’s not the first New York City neighborhood to entirely vanish in the rush of progress — is it, Robert Moses ? — however it may be the one that began with the most impressive pedigree.

Cherry and Catherine streets, looking towards the Manhattan Bridge anchorage, in the once glorious Cherry Hill neighborhood. Pic courtesy Knickerbocker Village, who guesses photo to be from 1920s)

 

I’m not referring to the part of Central Park called Cherry Hill or even the upstate farm of Cherry Hill, best known for the prominent New York family the Van Rensselaers.

Downtown Manhattan’s Cherry Hill once lay near the waterfront in the area more literally called Two Bridges today, between the Brooklyn Bridge and the area just northeast of the Manhattan Bridge.  The Two Bridges Historical District was created in 2003, just to the north of the site of old Cherry Hill.  Indeed there is nothing much left of the Cherry Hill neighborhood at all.

 

In 1890 Jacob Riis, in documenting what the neighborhood had become, referred to its early days as the “proud and fashionable Cherry Hill.” (pictured below)

Named for a Dutch cherry orchard, Cherry Hill featured a row of homes with a beautiful vista of the East River and hosted no less than George Washington‘s during his first term as president, at 1 Cherry Street.  Although he later moved to 39 Broadway, the neighborhood remained high on the list of the rich and important, including John Hancock (at 5 Cherry Street) and DeWitt Clinton (who moved into Washington’s old home).

Below: An illustration of the more genteel days of Cherry Hill, taken from the book When Old New York Was Young (written in 1902)

Courtesy Internet Archives Book Images
Courtesy Internet Archives Book Images

Even as late as the 1824, the area featured fine homes such as that of Samuel Leggett, founder of the New York Gas Light Company (later Con Edison), who enjoyed New York’s first interior gas lighting. Here’s a picture of the first gas-lit home at 7 Cherry Street. (More information here)

louisa-leggett-001

If you’re looking for a symbolic date of Cherry Hill’s demise, look no further than April 3, 1823, birth date of William ‘Boss’ Tweed, who was born here and worked at a Cherry Hill chair shop in his early years.

Below: Mullen’s Alley in Cherry Hill, picture taken by Jacob Riis in 1890. Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York

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As many well-to-do neighborhoods would later do, Cherry Hill devolved into a slum, paralleling the decline of nearby Five Points. Its well-intentioned tenements soon became the worst in the city.

Located in the Fourth Ward, Cherry Hill abutted the saloons, boarding houses and brothels along Water Street, including the legendary Hole In The Wall (today’s Bridge Cafe). None of this would assist the neighborhood in escaping its fate.

Below: Blindman’s Alley at 22 Cherry Street, taken by Jacob Riis

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

Cherry Hill is most unfortunately known for its most horrific slum — Gotham Court, “one of the worst tenements along the East River.” It would later be made infamous in Jacob Riis’ renown 1890 blistering survey of How The Other Half Lives.  According to Riis:

“It is curious to find that this notorious block, whose name was so long synonymous with all that was desperately bad, was originally built (in 1851) by a benevolent Quaker for the express purpose of rescuing the poor people from the dreadful rookeries they were then living in.”

Below: photo from Gotham Court by Jacob Riis, 1890. “Minding the baby; Baby yells a Whirlwind Scream, Gotham Court.”

MNY200983

 

 

How long Gotham Court continued to be a so-called model tenement is not on record. It could not have been very long, for already in 1862, ten years after it was finished, a sanitary official counted 146 cases of sickness in the court, including “all kinds of infectious disease,” from small-pox down.”

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

In 1894, the New York Tribune went as far as to make several attempts to describe Gotham Court as a prison. From the piece ‘Life in Gotham Court’:

“The side alleys are narrower. They are not more than three or four feet wide.  In order to enter either of these alleys one has to pass through an iron arch.  The gate has been taken away, but enough remains to give unpleasant suggestions of a penitentiary…..

The idea is not dissipated by the appearance of the houses inside the alley.  The small windows with tiny panes of glass, the low, dark doors, through which iron gratings can be seen, and the bare brick walls are like those of a prison.  The people move about free, as the prisoners do during ‘exercise hour’ at the Tombs.  All the doors are alike, all the windows are alike, and all are dilapidated, forlorn and forbidding.”

 

Gotham Court and the rest of Cherry Hill were not long for this world. In the wake of Riis expose, Gotham Court was demolished in 1897. By that time, efforts were made to construct more amenable tenements, including those built at 340, 342 and 344 Cherry Street in 1888. (See below, courtesy of Maggie Blanck)

By that time, the anchorage to the Brooklyn Bridge — and in 1909, with the Manhattan Bridge anchorage — would block in the neighborhood from the circulation of the city. The construction of traffic ramps to the Brooklyn Bridge and the downtown section of the FDR Drive (opened in 1942) obliterated much of what remained.

In its place would be more ambitious housing “super projects,” most notably one in the form of the Alfred E. Smith Houses, built in 1953 and named for the governor and saavy politico born very close by, at 25 Oliver Street. His old street and a couple around it may give you the closest idea of what some areas of Cherry Hill may have looked like in earlier years.

Two maps — one block of tenements in Cherry Hill in 1890 (from a map by Jacob Riis) and a Google map of the same block today:

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Given its rather uniform appearance, I found it quite impossible to picture Cherry Hill’s early days here.

 

A shortened version of this article originally ran August 18, 2008. I’ve left the comments from that original run as they relate to the history.

The story of ‘Painters On The Brooklyn Bridge’, a classic photograph taken 100 years ago this month

The photograph above (officially called “Brooklyn Bridge showing painters on suspenders”) is perhaps the best-known image taken by Eugene de Salignac, a city employee who took municipal photography of most major New York structures during the early 20th century.

His work had never appeared in a gallery until 2007, almost 65 years after his death.  His exquisite eye rendered otherwise ordinary shots with a captivating grandeur; this was certainly beyond the call of duty of his responsibilities for the Department of Bridges (later named the Department of Plant and Structures) for which he worked from 1906 to 1934.  In all, it’s estimated the city owns about 20,000 glass-plate negatives taken by de Salignac.

On September 22, 1914, de Salignac headed to the Brooklyn Bridge to observe workers painting the bridge’s steel-wire suspension.  Perhaps a bit inspired by modern artistic photography of the day, the normally workaday photographer returned to the bridge a couple weeks later, on October 7.

To quote Aperture:  “The image was obviously planned, as evidenced by the relaxed nature of these fearless men who appear without their equipment and are joined, uncustomarily, by their supervisor.”

It was, generally speaking, an unspectacular day for the 31-year-old bridge.  It’s believed that the original color of the Brooklyn Bridge was ‘Rawlins Red’ although by this time, the vibrant color might have been replaced with the less dramatic ‘Brooklyn Bridge Tan.’  Can you imagine what this image would have looked like in color?

I would like to think de Salignac took some inspiration from photographers like Paul Strand who were beginning to see New York City as a set of geometric abstracts.  The spirit of this photograph echoes into the work of Berenice Abbott and especially Lewis Hine.  In 1932, while de Salignac was still employed by the city, Hine was hired to document the construction of the RCA Building. In one photo, workers were posed in a way that eventually became quite iconic**:

Most likely, none of those other photographers saw de Salignac’s Brooklyn Bridge picture.  It was essentially lost among the thousands of archives pictures until the 1980s.  For his first film for PBS, Ken Burns used the photograph  in his Brooklyn Bridge documentary which went on to snag an Academy Award nomination.  In 2007, de Salignac was belatedly honored with an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York.

 De Salignac returned to the bridge to several times to catch more workers in the act of maintaining the bridge. Such as this photograph the following year:

Want to get lost for an hour or so? Check on the New York Municipal Archives vast trove of Eugene de Salignac photographs directly.

**This famous picture was attributed first to Lewis Hine, then to Charles C Ebbets.  Corbis officially lists the photographer as ‘unknown’.  Thank you to Michael Lorenzini for pointing this out!

Top photo courtesy New York Municipal Archives. Hine photo courtesy the George Eastman House

The ten greatest fireworks displays in New York City history

Above: One of my favorite pictures of the Williamsburg Bridge, at its opening in 1903
Nothing befits a fireworks display quite like a skyline to frame it, and no city has a skyline quite like New York City.  And so, despite the obvious dangers of setting off thousands of pounds of explosives in a crowded, flammable city, the city has been subject to some of the most beautiful feats of pyrotechnics in American history.
Here are ten of the greatest examples in the city’s history — celebrations not only of holidays, but vivid displays that highlighted the finest landmarks and accomplishments:

A View of the Magnificent and Extraordinary Fire Works Exhibited on the N.Y. City Hall

1. Opening of the Erie Canal — November 4, 1825
“On November 4, 1825, a spectacular extravaganza celebrated the just finished Erie Canal. City Hall, brilliantly illuminated, proudly overlooked a fireworks display in the park. There was good reason to celebrate:  the canal was the match that lit the fuse that detonated the boom of the 1830s” — Mark Caldwell, New York Night
(Illustration by John Francis Eugene Prod’Homme, Image courtesy MCNY)

 

2. Celebration for the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable — September 1-3, 1858
This called for a variety of elaborate pyrotechnic displays, including one 21-part program, which included “some new principles were attempted for the first time in the pyrotechnic art,” “two light houses connected by a line of rolling waters, on which the ships slowly moved towards their destination” and “all the splendor of the dazzling colors, assisted by all the mechanical contrivances of which the art is capable”. [source]

Incidentally, this fireworks festival caught City Hall on fire, burning down the cupola! (NYPL)

 

3. American Centennial — July 4, 1876
The all-day centennial celebration culminated in fireworks “representing the Goddess of Liberty sitting on a cloud in the act of greeting,” as well as several street-level “allegoric representations” illuminated in colorful fireworks. [source]

 

4. Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge — May 24, 1883
“Forty pyrotechnists superintended the display. There were 6,000 four-pound skyrockets, 400 bombshells and 125 fountains of colored lights.  Zinc bombshells of about ten inches in diameter were fired from mortars 500 feet in the air. Each bombshell held 600 stars of various colors.  A newly-invented rocket was displayed.  It held seven parachutes of cloth.  From these hung colored balls of fire.  The rockets burst, leaving the parachutes floating in the air. Five of these rockets were fired at once.  The result was thirty-five balls of colored fire floating in the air…..” [source]

 

5. Dedication of the Statue of Liberty — October 28, 1886
Well, actually, three days later, on November 1.  A soggy day killed off the fireworks on the day of the statue’s dedication, but were finally launched the following Monday.

“At precisely the hour fixed there came a burst of kaleidoscopic lights from Bedlow’s and Governors Island, and in an instant the air was filled with flying fire balls of every color of the rainbow.”

 

6. Hero’s Welcome for Admiral George Dewey — September 29, 1899
The arrival of Admiral Dewey, the face of the U.S.’s victory in the Spanish-American War,  inspired an exuberant celebration throughout the city.

“The day of Dewey celebration on the water ended in a roaring, popping, banging blaze of glory last night. Fireworks displays lit up the east side, the west side and all around the town. Not only did great boats loaded down with fireworks sweet down all the water-ways and circle about the lower Bay, but in the parks throughout the middle of the city the sky was painted red, white and blue and all the other shades of color known to the pyrotechnic art. ” [New York Sun]  (Illustration by GW Peters, courtesy NYPL)

7. Opening of the Williamsburg Bridge — December 19, 1903
“Then, without warning, the bridge was suddenly transformed into a sheet of flame.  From tower to tower the flames turned and writhed and flared high in the air, illuminating the waterfront for blocks.  Then came a kaleidoscopic medley of colors, red, green, purple, orange, violet — more colors than French ribbon dealer could enumerate — from huge rockets that sails two hundred feet above the bridge.” [source]

8. New York World’s Fair — July 4, 1939
“Fireworks colored the sky with the red, white and blue of the nation’s colors over the World’s Fair Grounds last night as two spectacular and elaborate displays of fire, water and music were set off, first from the Lagoon of Nations in the exhibit area and a short while later from Fountain Lake in the amusement area.”

 

9. America’s Bicentennial — July 4, 1976
This event was notable not only for its visibility across the nation — thanks to a television special — but it was the first fireworks display sponsored by Macy’s.   “New York Harbor became more brilliant than Broadway last night as the biggest and most colorful fireworks display in the city’s history exploded for half an hour in celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial.” [NYT]

 

10. Brooklyn Bridge 100th Birthday — May 24, 1983
“Then the sky simply exploded with fireworks. Red, white and blue shells, golden comets changing to silver, crackling stars in red and green, appeared to fill the entire sky, while hundreds of thousands of people gasped at the sheer dazzle of it all.” [New York Times]
(Bruce Cratsley, courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

The history of the South Street Seaport: A robust story of economic power, historic preservation, rat fights and fish guts

The daily bustle at the Fulton Fish Market, 1936, photographed by Berenice Abbott (NYPL)

PODCAST  The glory of early New York came from its role as one of the world’s great ports.  Today the South Street Seaport is a lasting tribute to that seafaring heritage, a historical district beneath the Brooklyn Bridge that contains some of New York City’s oldest buildings.

But there are many secrets here along the cobblestone streets.  Schermerhorn Row, the grand avenue of counting houses more than two centuries old, is built atop of landfill.  Historic Water Street once held a seedy concentration of brothels and saloons. Not to mention a very vibrant rat pit! And the Fulton Fish Market, the neighborhood’s oldest customer tradition, once fell into the river.

The modern South Street Seaport, a preservation construct of concerned citizens, become popular with tourists during the 1980s but saw severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.  It’s now the subject of some potentially dramatic changes.  How much of an adherence to the traditions of the past will determine the Seaport’s future?

ALSO: The FDR Drive — How it almost went below the Seaport!

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services, subscribe to our RSS feed or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #163 South Street Seaport
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A painting of the Empress of China, the vessel probably most responsible for the growth of New York’s trading power. (Courtesy nyhistorywalks)

Peck Slip, providing ferry service to Brooklyn. The very first ferry service to Brooklyn was launched from this spot over two hundred years before the era depicted in this image. (NYPL)

South Street, circa 1892, via stereograph (courtesy Library of Congress)

A different world: The glory of South Street in 1890 and 1900, respectively, still a non-stop churn of unloading, delivering and transport, even as the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance marks big changes to come for the neighborhood. (courtesy NYPL and Library of Congress)

The Fulton Fish Market, as photographed by Berenice Abbot, November 26, 1935 (NYPL)

Fulton and Water Streets, 1975 (Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)

[Fulton and Water Streets.]

Richard Haas’ trompe l’oeil excellently masking a Con Edision substation. (Museum of City of New York)

[Trompe l'oeil concealing a Con Ed substation at 237-257 Front Street, and the Jasper Ward house, 45 Peck Slip.]
Pier 17, the ambitious 1980s project that transformed this once-vital economic center into a viable tourist attraction.  But it didn’t exactly appeal to large masses of regular New Yorkers. (Pic courtesy Wired New York)

Over the river: Six New York bridges under construction

Manhattan Bridge, June 5, 1908 Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives

Queensboro Bridge, August 8, 1907 Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives

George Washington Bridge, 1927, Courtesy Life

Brooklyn Bridge, late 1870s

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, 1960, photo by Matthew Proujansky

Williamsburg Bridge, 1902, courtesy Shorpy

The New York Public Library’s old-timey 3D magic maker

Stop what you’re doing and go play around with the New York Public Library‘s addictive Stereograminator, which gives you their collection of stereograph photography and the ability to animate them, emulating the ‘3D effect’ audiences who first viewed them would have experienced. Go here for the fun.

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index

The originals are below:

The 2013 Podcast Awards nominations are open!

Street life at Oak Street and New Chambers Street, 1935. This is in today’s neighborhood of Two Bridges.  Neither of these streets exist today, swept away by grand housing projects.  Sepiatown has the approximate location of where this photograph was taken. (Pic by Berenice Abbott, courtesy NYPL)

The nominations for the 2013 Podcast Awards are open. If you feel so inclined to nominate the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast in the People’s Choice and Travel* categories, we would greatly appreciate it!  And while you’re at it, give you other favorite podcasts some love in some of the other categories.

Submit your nominations here: People’s Podcast Awards

Now, we’ve been nominated a couple times before, and it’s a wonderful honor. We’re always off doing our own thing with New York City, so it’s nice to feel part of the larger American podcast community.  Of course, we always lose to Disney theme park podcasts (albeit very good ones), but perhaps things will be different this year. We can only dream, Jiminy Cricket.

As always, I thank you for checking out the Bowery Boys blog and podcast!

*Travel has always seemed like an odd category for what we do, however, on iTunes, the category is actually called Places & Travel.  Although I hope that our shows are educational, it doesn’t seem quite right to put us in the Education category.

Frozen in time: The Blizzard of 1888 knocks New York City off its feet, creating the deadliest commute in history

PODCAST This year is the 125th anniversary of one of the worst storms to ever wreak havoc upon New York City, the now-legendary mix of wind and snow called the Great Blizzard of 1888.

Its memory was again conjured up a few months ago as people struggled to compare Hurricane Sandy with some devastating event in New York’s past.  And indeed, the Blizzard and Sandy have several disturbing similarities.  But the battering snow-hurricane of 1888, with freezing temperatures and drifts three stories high, was made worse by the condition of New York’s transportation and communication systems, all completely unprepared for 36 hours of continual snow.

The storm struck in the early hours of Monday, and many thousands attempted to make their way to work, not knowing how severe the storm would be.  It would be the worst commute in New York City history!  Fallen telephone and telegraph poles became a hidden threat under the quickly accumulating drifts.

Elevated trains were frozen in place, their passengers unable to get out for hours.  Many died simply trying to make their way back home on foot, including Roscoe Conkling (at right), a power broker of New York’s Republican Party.

But there were moments of amusement too. Saloons thrived, and actors trudged through to the snow in time for their performances,  And for P.T. Barnum, the show must always go on!

STARRING: Hugh Grant (although maybe not the one you’re thinking)

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services, subscribe to our RSS feed or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to straight from here:
The Bowery Boys: The Great Blizzard of 1888

NOTE:  And, yes, we can’t believe the timing of this one, releasing on the same date of an ACTUAL blizzard.  We really had this one planned for awhile, delayed it a bit because it seemed too eerie to do it so close after Hurricane Sandy.

So if you’re in New York or the northeast United States, stay inside, stay safe and let this podcast be the only dangerous snow drifts you experience this week!

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In the blizzard of 1888, the streets disappeared and the snow came down almost horizontally. Imagine being trapped at work, several miles from your home. This was the plight experienced by thousands of New Yorkers (and others throughout the northeast) that Monday. (Library of Congress)

 

Why did the 1888 blizzard become such a hazard for New Yorkers? Let this picture be your first clue. The city was a cobweb of elevated telegraph, telephone and electric wires.  This picture is from 1887. (LOC)

One example of a terrible (although minor) snow drift that might have kept this family in their home all day.  Because of the unpredictable changes in wind, some houses might have been drift-free, while others close by completely locked in with snow. (LOC)

George Washington at the Sub-Treasury Building (today Federal Hall). I ran this photo a few weeks ago, but it’s so bizarre that I think it needs a second posting.

The Brooklyn Bridge, not even five years old, weathered the winds quite well, but became a hazard due to ice. In this picture, people are crossing over as there was no other way to get between Manhattan and Brooklyn.  It’s not clear if any of the trains are operating in this picture.

The biggest danger for those venturing outside were the hundreds of downed telegraph, telephone and electrical poles, no match for the intense gusts.  The poles would quickly fall then get covered with snow, creating deadly hazards for people walking past.  The snow would just as quickly cover over an unconscious individual; many New Yorkers froze to death when they fell and were instantly shrouded.

 

Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He did not survive the blizzard. (NYHS)

Transportation in and out of the city was at a complete standstill for half the week.  Here workers frantically try to clear the way for trains going into Grand Central Depot.

Clean-up was truly chaotic, a feeble effort by the city paired with private contractors with horses, shovels and carts. The piles of snow were taken to water’s edge and dumped, or, in a few less preferred cases, people just started bonfires and melted it away. (For a great picture of a snow dump in the river, see this photo at Shorpy of a blizzard from 1899.) Top pic courtesy LOC, at bottom Maggie Blanck.

The cover of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, usually one of the more sensational pieces of journalism people might have found at their newsstand.

Notes from the podcast: (#141) New York Beer History

Year-Round Brews: This calendar from 1895 celebrates the Harlem breweries of James Everard. An older Everard brewery building on W. 28th Street was converted into a Turkish bathhouse in 1888. It became the location of a variety of notorious activities during the 20th century. Everard’s breweries became the plaintiff in a Prohibition-era Supreme Court case regarding the use of alcoholic beverages for medicinal purposes. (Pic courtesy the Library of Congress)

Piels:  We completely skipped one major New York brewer, one that still maintains a presence in New York, if in name only. Three German brothers opened the Piels Brewery in East New York, on the same day as the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge— May 24, 1883. They too had their own beer garden to enjoy the brews manufactured inside. Called the Summer Garden, this festive place adorned with electric lights and a shaded seating area was known for its determined wait staff.

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: “The waiters in the summer garden competed to see who could carry the most seidels of Piels Beer from the bar to their customers tables. In 1904 one waiter carried 16 seidels (eight in each hand).” [source]

Piels is still manufactured in Milwaukee by the Pabst Brewing Company.

Five-Borough Beer: In its heyday, you could find breweries in all five boroughs. Brewers were particularly attracted to Staten Island thanks to its spring water. In Stapleton, near the ferry piers, sat two of the largest — George Bechtel‘s brewery (which opened in 1853) and Rubsam & Hormann’s Atlantic Brewing Co.

And then, of course, there’s a place we all want to stay — Monroe Echstein’s Brewery Hotel and adjoining brewery on Manor Road in Castleton Corners. (Pics courtesy NYPL)

College Point in Queens County attracted a large German population, thanks in part to rubber industrialist Conrad Poppenhausen, who set up his factories here in the 1850s. His workers and daytrippers to the region enjoyed a line of small breweries and beer gardens here. A couple decades later, Henry Steinway would set up his own factory town to the west and with it an assortment of beer gardens and even an outdoor amusement park called North Beach.

Today’s Bohemian Hall in Astoria is not far from Steinway’s factory. Read about the history of one of Queens’ oldest drinking establishments here.

For More Information: The New-York Historical Society exhibit ‘Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History is on display until September 2, 2012. I was particularly interested in the Society’s collection of ice carving equipment used by early brewers and the very cheeky collection of mid-20th century advertising and media.

For a general history on American beer, I recommend Maureen Ogle’s ‘Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer’ and also Gregg Smith’s ‘Beer In America: The Early Years’. And there is no shortage of History-Channel style documentaries on the subject. Also, for some general information on Bushwick, I highly recommend exploring the Bushwiki, with lots of history about the neighborhood.

There’s now a New York Beer and Brewery Tour with stops at brewers in three different boroughs. And it takes you down ‘Brewer’s Row’ after having a couple rounds of beer elsewhere. You can catch a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery of course; visit their website for more information.

Thanks again to Scott Nyerges for helping me out with this one! Please visit his website for more information on his upcoming gallery show in Bushwick. And also my thanks to the Bodega Bar in Bushwick where I was going to pull together the Bowery Boys’ very first real ‘on location’ recording at a bar. Unfortunately I was not able to work that out, but I thank them for opening their door to the show anyway.