Podcasts The Jazz Age

The Queen of the Speakeasies: A Tale of Prohibition New York

PODCAST Dry wit! Wet lips! The story of Prohibition during the Jazz Age and the movie star-turned-hostess who became the toast of New York nightlife. Texas Guinan was the queen of the speakeasy era, the charismatic and sassy hostess of New York’s hottest nightclubs of the 1920s. Her magnetism, sharpened by years of work in […]

New Amsterdam Uncategorized

Building The Wall: How Wall Street got its name

One of the first facts you learn as a student of New York City history is that Wall Street, that canyon of tall buildings and center of the American financial world, is named for an actual wall that once stretched along this very spot during the days of the Dutch when New York was known […]

Pop Culture

Ghostbusters 2: Twenty-five historical details from the supreme slimy sequel

The Bowery Boys Obsessive Guides look very, very closely at a classic movie filmed in New York City, finding buried history, additional context and a few secrets within various scenes and plot points. Filled with film spoilers so read this after you’ve seen the movie — or use it to follow along as you watch […]

Friday Night Fever Podcasts

The tale of the Cotton Club: “The Aristocrat of Harlem”

PODCAST The musical story of the Cotton Club, the most famous (and infamous) nightclub of the Jazz Age. The Cotton Club, Harlem’s most prominent nightclub during the Prohibiton era, delivered some of the greatest music legends of the Jazz Age — Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, the Nicolas Brothers.  Some of the most iconic songs in the American […]

Revolutionary History

Ten facts about Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill

Big news in the world of numismatics — the U.S. Treasury Department has announced that Alexander Hamilton, long the solitary face on the $10 bill, will be joined by a woman. But who? His wife Eliza Schuyler? Harriet Tubman? Eleanor Roosevelt? And how will she be featured? Thankfully, he’s not leaving the bill, which he has graced since 1928. Here are a […]

Neighborhoods Podcasts

The big history of Little Italy

PODCAST Little Italy is the pocket-neighborhood reminder of the great wave of Italian immigration which came through New York City starting in the late 1870s.  This was the home of a densely packed, lively neighborhood of pushcarts, cheese shops, barber shops and organ grinders, populated by thousands of new immigrants in dilapidated old tenements. The area has […]

Those Were The Days

THIS is New York Fashion Week — as it might have been in 1915

 New York Fashion Week, the city’s twice-yearly celebration of couture and runway, traces its roots to a 1943 press week event at the Plaza Hotel, organized by publicist Eleanor Lambert.  But there had been a variety of one-off ‘fashion weeks’ or American fashion events in the  years between the wars.  In 1934, the Mayfair Mannequin Academy, a local […]

A Most Violent Year Pop Culture

1981 was indeed “A Most Violent Year” in New York City

In 1981, there were more reported robberies in New York City (over 120,000) than in any year in its history.  There were over 2,100 murders that year (slightly down from the previous year) including such infamous crimes as the mob-related Shamrock Bar murders in Queens. After years of steadily increasing crime rates, it seemed unlikely in 1981 that […]

Those Were The Days

Before the flapper, the naughty ‘vamp’ scandalized New York

Above: Clara Bow, in It (1927), one of the roles that made her an major film star.Two iconic actresses of the early silent film industry share a birthday today — Theda Bara (born July 29, 1885) and Clara Bow (born in Brooklyn, July 29, 1905).  Bow became the screen’s leading flapper archetype of the 1920s, […]

Health and Living Podcasts

The startling history of New York’s Bellevue Hospital

Bellevue from the waterfront, 1879.  Proximity to the shoreline — which once gave the original mansion here that ‘belle vue’ — was key in the early years of Bellevue, as sometimes it was the fastest way to get to the hospital when roads were less than ideal. (Courtesy NYC HHC) PODCAST Bellevue Hospital, you might […]

Queens History

The Corona Ash Dump: Brooklyn’s burden on Queens, a vivid literary inspiration and bleak, rat-filled landscape

Ah, take in the horrid reality of the Corona marshes with their ashes, manure and garbage! (Courtesy CUNY) Outside of probably Hell, there is no literary landscape as forlorn and soul-crushing as the ash dumps of Corona, Queens. “This is the valley of ashes,” writes Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat […]

Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The Great Gatsby’s New York City, in ten different scenes, from the Queensboro Bridge to the Plaza Hotel

BOWERY BOYS BOOK OF THE MONTH Each month I’ll pick a book — either brand new or old, fiction or non-fiction — that offers an intriguing take on New York City history, something that uses history in a way that’s uniquely unconventional or exposes a previously unseen corner of our city’s complicated past.  Then over the […]

American History

Queen Elizabeth visits New York City

What do you buy a queen on her Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the British throne? Well, most royal figures are quite difficult to buy for, but luckily, Queen Elizabeth has already revealed her preference in local department stores. For back in 1976, the woman who never goes shopping found herself one late afternoon […]

Women's History

The 25 Most Influential Women in New York City History

ABOVE: These are the ladies who lunch in Prospect Park 1935 We talk about a lot of white men on the Bowery Boys podcast. When discussing the mainstream history of the city, it’s pretty unavoidable. Men had the money, the power, the influence. Not to mention most of the corruption, the crime, the scandal. So […]


Empire State Building suicides: a morbid tradition

Yesterday, the media reported grim news that a woman committed suicide by leaping out a 39-story window of the Empire State Building. The woman was an employee in the building; unfortunately, New York’s most recognizable symbol and its 102 floors have been the final destination for over 30 people since it opened its doors in […]