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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘The Encyclopedia of New York’: A glorious and eccentric view of the city

Looking for a last minute gift idea? The Encyclopedia of New York is a rich, attractive and surprising collection of stories from the city’s history, arranged alphabetically — from abstract expressionism to zoning. Throughout the book, you’ll be discovering fascinating articles written by some of your favorite New York writers — Kevin Baker on baseball, […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Bowery Boys Bookshelf: Our Favorite Books of 2020

Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite books that I reviewed for this website in 2020. As with any list formed from the reading list of an individual writer, it’s limited by the number of books I was able to put in front of my face this year — which given all my podcast […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Music History

‘The Search for John Lennon’: The short, surprising life of a music legend

John Lennon was shot and killed 40 years ago today out in front of his home at the Dakota Apartments. That fact you probably know. Many aspects of his later years — but most especially his death — have been replayed and mythologized upon the streets of New York City, the unique result of a […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

History in amber: New books on Audubon Park and New York’s natural history museum

Find your corner of the world and fight for it. That’s an underlying message behind Spady’s immersive and carefully tended history of Audubon Park, the small neighborhood just to the north of uptown’s Trinity Cemetery where its namesake — the naturalist John James Audubon — is buried. The Neighborhood Manhattan ForgotAudubon Park and the Families […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

You Talkin’ To Me? A new book explores the way New Yorkers speak

We echo our ancestors’ history everyday through our accents and spoken language. Accents are a filtered connection to how those before us spoke — well, for many people, that is. As for me — born in the Ozarks with much of my life in New York City — you’d think I would have pretty bizarre […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Science

‘A Furious Sky’: A new book tracks the horrors of American hurricanes

This week marks the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, which wreaked havoc upon the Northeast United States, causing billions of dollars in damage. The storm hit just days before a presidential election and right before Halloween, plunging many areas of New York City into darkness and flooding the subway […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Health and Living

‘The House on Henry Street’: A new book on the mothers of modern activism

If you’re looking to read something about the possibility of doing absolute good in the world, then a story about the Henry Street Settlement is a good place to start. The Lower East Side settlement house, founded by Lillian Wald in 1893, became not only a salvation to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants in […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Writers and Artists

American Daredevil: A New Book on Comic Book Anti-Fascist Lev Gleason

Comic books were invented in New York City during the 1930s, the product of a low-key publishing trade combining the popularity of newspaper comic strips with the gloss of the magazine revolution. That was also a decade of social activism — with the Great Depression at home and the rise of fascism in Europe — […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf True Crime

‘The Vapors’: How an Arkansas spa town became a New York gangster paradise

Owney Madden was one of New York’s most infamous gangsters, a bootlegger and murderer who seemed to cross paths with every major cultural marker of the Roaring 20s. He opened the Cotton Club (with Jack Johnson), dated Mae West, and operated a liquor smuggling racket that catered to the city’s busiest speakeasies. In essence Madden […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf It's Showtime

‘Lady Romeo’: The unconventional life of actress Charlotte Cushman

Without moving images or sound recordings to guide us, it can be hard to imagine the lives and careers of famous theater actors from the 19th century. And yet the American theater produced a list of wildly famous performers whose names were repeated in households that often had no possibility of ever seeing a major […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Politics and Protest

‘Begin Again’: What James Baldwin can teach us about 2020

There were five, maybe six moments, during the reading of Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons For Our Own where I experienced something that few books had ever made me feel — that the pages were being written as I turned them. The sentiments so immediate and revealing of this moment — […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Landmarks

‘Walking Broadway’: A splendid guide for a summer stroll through Manhattan

Manhattan’s 13-mile stretch of Broadway — as you’ve heard us say many times — has an extraordinary history. Thanks to its unique path up the length of the island, it crosses through a wide variety of fascinating neighborhoods and historical eras. And as it turns out — it also makes for a beautiful stroll. WALKING […]

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A Most Violent Year Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘Murder in the Garment District’: Unraveling the labor unions in mob-controlled Manhattan

By the 1930s, New York City’s thriving garment industry had moved from the Lower East Side to Midtown Manhattan*, housed within nondescript buildings with hundreds of showrooms and shop floors. The streets were lined with idling trucks, racks of dresses pulled along the sidewalk by loaders and truck men. The streets where American fashion was […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The menagerie of New York: A colorful look at the ‘Wild City’

While traipsing through Red Hook a couple months ago, I happened upon a family of raccoons camped out underneath a pick-up truck. New York City is actually a bit of a zoo — if you open your mind to what constitutes a star attraction. Sure, we don’t have lions wandering around (thankfully), but what zoo […]

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American History Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Sweet Taste of Liberty: Celebrating the life of Henrietta Wood

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, Henrietta Wood sued the man who kidnapped her and sold her back into slavery. In his lifetime, that man — a prison warden and general scoundrel named Zebulon Ward — often bragged about losing the case, saying “he was the last American ever to pay for a […]