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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 […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Wartime New York

Nazis in New York Harbor: In ‘The Agitator’, a wayward sailor leads an anti-fascist resistance

Oh what a glamorous party! Those ‘midnight sailing parties’ along the Hudson River piers, partygoers boarding luxury ocean liners as the sun set, drinking and dining with passengers before the ship set sail for destinations abroad. One hot summer evening of 1935, the crew of the SS Bremen welcomed almost 5,000 non-passengers aboard the jewel of the German ocean […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘Separate’: The origins of a catastrophic and disgraceful Supreme Court decision

The 1896 landmark Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson embedded and legitimized the practice of “separate but equal” into American life in the 20th century. The decision built racism into the fiber of everyday activities — schooling, housing, medical care, public transportation — and elevated personal prejudices into the realm of legality. It raised white and […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Why David Hosack, doctor of Alexander Hamilton, built America’s first public botanic garden

Congratulations to Victoria Johnson for being named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her book American Eden, one of our favorite from 2018. Here’s our review from a few months ago: A secluded haven to an age of wonder once sat in mid-Manhattan at the start of the 19th century. “Few New Yorkers had ever seen anything like it,” […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Sports

Opening Day at Shea Stadium: A nostalgic trip to the New York Mets’ beloved old home

Shea Stadium has been gone ten years now. With mourning fans looking on, the final section of seats were torn out on the morning of February 18, 2009. Awaiting fans a short distance away was the sparkling new Citi Field which would open for business with a thrilling game between the San Diego Padres and the field’s home […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Bronx History

When Brooklyn Was Queer: The forgotten history of gay existence on the periphery of urban life

Hugh Ryan’s When Brooklyn Was Queer embarks on a modern quest to find the roots of the LGBTQ community in the pages of history. A reader might hope to pick up Ryan’s book and find a reflection of their own world in the back alleys and parlors of Old New York — or rather, Old Brooklyn, the […]

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American History Bowery Boys Bookshelf

WILD BILL: The real man behind a Western legend — and a reluctant Broadway stage star

“Hickok was a celebrity. He was famous. He was feared. He was already a legend. It is estimated that over fifteen hundred dime novels were written just about Buffalo Bill Cody, beginning in 1869, when he was only twenty-three, into the 1930s, and during the early years. Wild Bill was in that category of iconic […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Romare Bearden: ‘An American Odyssey’ through the Harlem Renaissance and the SoHo art scene

Sometimes an artist’s biography can work on two levels, providing both the sweep of history within the subject matter of the artist’s own output and a grand view of American art history in the artist’s working life. In Mary Schmidt Campbell’s absorbing biography of the painter, illustrator and collagist Romare Bearden, we get to look at […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Podcasts

‘Going Into Town’ with the New Yorker’s Roz Chast: A Conversation with the Bowery Boys

PODCAST The Bowery Boys celebrate the end of the year by sitting down with Roz Chast, who has been contributing cartoons to the New Yorker since 1978. She’s also the author of the New York Times best-selling graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Chast’s new book Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York is […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Eleven holiday gift ideas for New York history buffs: The Bowery Boys favorite books of 2017

For this holiday season, what single present can satisfy a native New Yorker, a history buff enchanted with the city’s rich heritage, or a person who’s dreamed of coming here to visit one day? A book of course! Here are our picks for ideal gifts this year — from hard-hitting non-fiction to nostalgic memoir, from the Revolutionary […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘Greater Gotham’: Admiring the biggest, most important New York City history book of the year

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, is my bible. It sits with my reference books, not with the other history non-fiction, foundational in its importance to this subject. I’ve read every page, although not in one or even 50 sittings. It winds through about 275 […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Wartime New York

‘Shooting Lincoln’: The Complicated Story Behind America’s First Wartime Photographs

Alexander Gardner is a bit of a Nikola Tesla-like figure in American history in that his contributions were largely overlooked in his day, concealed within a partnership with a famous business titan. That titan was Mathew Brady, the most famous photographer of the 19th century, with studios in New York and Washington D.C. that captured […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘Going to Town’: Roz Chast rewrites the guide book

The biggest city in the United States is really a collection of multiverses, full of enshrined anomalies and beloved inconveniences. Every New Yorker has their own list of wisdoms and observations, a batch of beloved eccentricities that make New York City such a perfect place to live for them. (For instance, I love a good bodega […]