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… Read More

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,… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More


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… Read More


“Horrors” of Roosevelt Island: Lunacy!

Is there anything more frightening than a insane asylum on fire? Nope. Welcome to America’s first municipal lunatic asylum, its home — you guessed it — is on Roosevelt Island in the 19th century. The 1839 facility was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, one of the most influential architects of his day and best known for… Read More

Bowery Boys Movie Club


To get you in the mood for the weekend, every Friday we’ll be celebrating ‘FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER’, featuring an old New York nightlife haunt, from the dance halls of 19th Century Bowery to the massive warehouse spaces of the mid-90s. Past entries can be found here How can I continue to do this series without… Read More