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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 […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘Lincoln on the Verge’: A dangerous journey across a fractured country

On April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died from his injuries by the assassin John Wilkes Booth who shot the president the previous evening at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. It was a fate promised to him by Southern sympathizers from the moment he was first elected on November 6, 1860. At no point was […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The New York Post vs. the New York Daily News in ‘America’s Last Great Newspaper War’

Over ten years ago, the New York Post and the New York Daily News were locked in a battle for tabloid dominance, wrestling and rolling around just as an apocalypse – the digital revolution — was descending upon American newsrooms. Newspapers across the country have either folded or become absorbed into national conglomerates. America’s best-selling […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf The Jazz Age

‘Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer’: The man who helped build the entertainment world

When it comes to artistic creation, we take many fundamentals of law for granted. Most people might not understand the particulars of ‘intellectual property’ but they sure benefit from it. The very review you are reading — and the website that publishes it — are protected by laws that were hammered out and fought for […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Book Round-Up: Spies, Newsboys and ‘America’s First Freedom Rider’

Looking for a good book? Here are a few recent releases I’ve enjoyed reading over the past few weeks. All are currently available at your local book retailer: SPY SITES OF NEW YORK CITYH. Keith Melton and Robert WallaceGeorgetown University Press In what is easily the coolest New York City guide book of recent memory, […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The Bridge: Join the Bowery Boys for a special book club event at the Van Alen Institute

Love graphic novels? Love the Brooklyn Bridge? Join Greg Young from the Bowery Boys podcast as he moderates this month’s Van Alen Book Club — hosted by the Van Alen Institute, on Friday, February 28. The book we’re discussing is The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York by Peter J. Tomasi, illustrated […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Science

Miracle ABOVE 34th Street: A rainmaker trys to keep NYC quenched

It seems like a conspiracy theory from 2019 — a government plot to conjure weather conditions favorable to New York City by literally seeding the sky from government planes. But it really did happen in 1950. The results, however, were a bit more — shall we say — chilling. Howell’s StormNew York City’s Official Rainmaker and […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Health and Living Uncategorized

The Guarded Gate: NYC’s grotesque involvement with the eugenics movement

Eugenics, as with any creation from a mad scientist, was developed to advance the human race, built from the studies of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel. Shouldn’t we pass only mankind’s most laudable attributes to the next generation? Who wouldn‘t want to weed out disease and deformity? Instead, it became one of the most insidious tools of the 20th […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf True Crime

The Belle of Bedford Avenue: Wild Brooklyn teens in a shocking real-life 1902 murder mystery

I finished reading Virginia A. McConnell‘s true-crime page-turner The Belle of Bedford Avenue and promptly went to listen to my favorite musical cast album — Chicago. Florence Burns, the ‘bad girl’ of McConnell’s tale, easily could have been the inspiration for Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly had she been a 1920s flapper. Burns’ real-life troubles, however, predate those of […]