Categories
On The Waterfront

In 1863, the Russians invaded New York City

In 1863, New Yorkers flocked to the waterfront to see a startling sight — Russian war ships in New York Harbor. They were here as a display of force, but not to threaten the United States. The fleet of Russian ships, sailing into New York Harbor in September 1863, as depicted by Harper’s Weekly. Russia’s […]

Categories
Gilded Age New York

Chelsea’s former opera house and the shocking murder of a New York ‘robber baron’

One hundred and fifty years ago this month (more specifically, on January 7, 1872), a shocking assassination took place at the northwest corner of 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue.  And it took place at a quite surprising venue — the Grand Opera House. Surprising in the sense that it seems unusual that an opera house […]

Categories
Wartime New York

The Kingsland Factory Explosion (and the switchboard operator who saved the day)

Today is the 105th anniversary of the Kingsland factory explosion. To mark the occasion I’m reposting this article originally released on the 100th anniversary of this mysterious disaster. On the afternoon on January 11, 1917, workers in downtown Manhattan skyscrapers were jolted from their desks by a startling sight in New Jersey — an exploding […]

Categories
Know Your Mayors Politics and Protest

Mayor Aaron Clark: New York’s lottery king

New York City has a new mayor — Eric Adams! So we think it is time that you Know Your Mayors, becoming familiar with other men who’ve held the job, from the ultra-powerful to the political puppets, the most effective to the most useless leaders in New York City history. This longtime feature of this […]

Categories
Christmas Writers and Artists

Sacred Santa: How a self-proclaimed Messiah became a popular Santa Claus model

Early one spring day in 1922, while dutifully posing at the Art Students League on West 57th Street, Santa Claus had a fatal heart attack in front of a classroom of students. Above — He knows when you’ve been bad or good: A Christmas issue of Judge Magazine from 1919 by Guy Lowy, who studied at the […]

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It's Showtime Podcasts

West Side Story: The Making of Lincoln Center

PODCAST Steven Spielberg’s new version of West Side Story is here — and it’s fantastic — so we’re re-visiting our 2016 show on the history of Lincoln Center, with a new show introduction discussing the film and the passing of musical icon Stephen Sondheim. Warm up the orchestra, lace up your dance slippers, and bring […]

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Brooklyn History Gilded Age New York

The Terrible Brooklyn Theater Fire: The Worst Disaster In Brooklyn History

It is difficult to discuss calmly the frightful disaster which happened in Brooklyn on Tuesday night. No such awful sacrifice of human life has ever been known in this country, shipwreck and the casualties of war alone being excepted. — New York Times editorial, Dec. 7, 1876 This is a black-letter day in Brooklyn. The theatre […]

Categories
Holidays New Amsterdam

How Dutch New Amsterdam helped create the American Christmas tradition

After reading this article on the origins of Christmas in America, find some information about a virtual Christmas in Old New York tour from Bowery Boys Walks. There are many different ways to celebrate Christmas, a national holiday derived from the union of Christianity and capitalism. How one chooses to mark the occasion is a […]

Categories
Those Were The Days

Lovely photos of the horrible New York garbage strike of 1911

New York street cleaners and garbage workers (sometimes referred to as ‘ashcart men’) went on strike on November 8, 1911, over 2,000 men walking off their jobs in protest over staffing and work conditions. More importantly, that April, the city relegated garbage pickup to nighttime shifts only, and cleaners often worked solo. This may have […]

Categories
A Most Violent Year Know Your Mayors Politics and Protest

The Riots of 1834: New York City’s first direct election for mayor

We’re getting a new mayor! So we think it is time that you Know Your Mayors. Become familiar with other men who’ve held the job, from the ultra-powerful to the political puppets, the most effective to the most useless leaders in New York City history. This longtime feature of this website is being rebooted with […]

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American History Landmarks

The Statue of Liberty turns 135 years old: Eleven facts about her 1886 dedication

The Statue of Liberty celebrates her 135th birthday today. Technically, I suppose, it’s the anniversary of her dedication, a star-studded, pomp-laden ceremony that took place on Friday, October 28, 1886. But for many months previous, she was a fierce presence in the harbor, as the copper monument was arduously stitched together from far flung pieces — […]

Categories
Food History Holidays

Loft’s Candies: Vintage Halloween treats from the Jazz Age

The Loft Candy Company exclusively operated several locations throughout the New York area in the 1910s-30s, many of them proper restaurants. For the Jazz Age candy lover, they were heaven on earth. Occasionally you’ll find an old Loft’s neon sign today, peering from a crumbling facade. Loft’s candy factory was over in Long Island City, […]

Categories
Mysterious Stories Podcasts

Gotham’s Greatest Ghosts: The Bowery Boys Halloween Specials

This year we are celebrating our 15th year of telling New York City ghost stories. Fifteen years?! Now that’s frightening. Our first show was released on October 11, 2007. Since that time we have released fourteen Halloween-related shows (from 2007 to 2020) as well as a recording of our Joe’s Pub live show. So for […]

Categories
Brooklyn History Mysterious Stories

For Whom The Ghost Tolls: A Haunting in Bedford-Stuyvesant

The Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant is defined by its architectural character, rows of impressive brownstones and ornate apartment buildings which trace back to the late 19th century.   It was once two separate villages — Bedford and Stuyvesant Heights — combined to appeal to new residents in the ever-expanding city of Brooklyn.  The Bed-Stuy of […]

Categories
Know Your Mayors Parks and Recreation Writers and Artists

Mayor Philip Hone, the party host who made Washington Square Park

We’re just a few weeks away from a new mayor in New York City so we think it is time that you Know Your Mayors! Become familiar with other men who’ve held the job, from the ultra-powerful to the political puppets, the most effective to the most useless leaders in New York City history. This […]