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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Brooklyn History

That Kid From Bensonhurst: ‘The Adventures of Herbie Cohen’

Playboy Magazine called Herb Cohen “the world’s greatest negotiator” and whether or not that was true, Cohen could convince you that it most certainly was. He wrote You Can Negotiate Anything and in 1982 it became a best-seller during a wave of self-help books. A year before its release, Cohen became involved in the Iran… Read More

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Brooklyn History Neighborhoods Podcasts

The Story of Flatbush: Brooklyn Old and New

Over 350 years ago today’s Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush was an old Dutch village, the dirt path that would one day become Flatbush Avenue lined with wheat fields and farms. Contrast that with today’s Flatbush, a bustling urban destination diverse in both housing styles and commercial retail shops. It’s also an anchor of Brooklyn’s Caribbean… Read More

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Brooklyn History Parks and Recreation

The disappearance and mysterious death of Calvert Vaux

On November 19, 1895,  Calvert Vaux went for a morning walk from his son’s home in Brooklyn. He never returned. The 70 year old architect had helped to create the greatest parks in the cities of New York and Brooklyn. His landscape collaborations with Frederick Law Olmsted had given Manhattan its Central Park and Brooklyn… Read More

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Brooklyn History Gilded Age New York

The Terrible Brooklyn Theater Fire: The Worst Disaster In Brooklyn History

It is difficult to discuss calmly the frightful disaster which happened in Brooklyn on Tuesday night. No such awful sacrifice of human life has ever been known in this country, shipwreck and the casualties of war alone being excepted. — New York Times editorial, Dec. 7, 1876 This is a black-letter day in Brooklyn. The theatre… Read More

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Brooklyn History Mysterious Stories

For Whom The Ghost Tolls: A Haunting in Bedford-Stuyvesant

The Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant is defined by its architectural character, rows of impressive brownstones and ornate apartment buildings which trace back to the late 19th century.   It was once two separate villages — Bedford and Stuyvesant Heights — combined to appeal to new residents in the ever-expanding city of Brooklyn.  The Bed-Stuy of… Read More

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Brooklyn History Health and Living

The Brooklyn origin of Pfizer and the wild world of 19th century medicine

The origin of a true Brooklyn ‘start up’ — Charles Pfizer and Co, who went from developing intestinal worm medication in 1849 to being a leader in vaccine distribution in the 21st century. This is story of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals before the 1950s, a tale of German immigration and of early medical practices and concoctions that… Read More

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Bowery Boys Movie Club Brooklyn History

Do The Right Thing: Spike Lee’s Brooklyn movie classic gets better with age

We’re sliding into summer AT LAST — ready for great music, hot dancing and breaking into fire hydrants — and so we’ve just released an epic summertime episode of Bowery Boys Movie Club to the general Bowery Boys podcast audience, exploring the 1989 Spike Lee masterpiece Do The Right Thing. And sticking to the theme of summertime New… Read More

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Brooklyn History Film History

Free movies in Coney Island saloons — since the year 1912!

People have been enjoying movies and alcohol well before anybody first thought to make popcorn for hungry audiences. Believe it or not, this carefree pleasure — one most people do not take for granted anymore — has its roots in a small but significant decision that was made almost 110 years ago. In May of… Read More

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Brooklyn History Museums

The Bushwick Doll Factory: A tour of 538 Johnson, where Brooklyn’s industrial past and punk music collide

There is no place in New York City quite like the converted factory building at 538 Johnson Avenue in Bushwick*, Brooklyn. At the same time, it evokes in mysterious ways a compelling truth about this city — that every building has a story, if only it had a storyteller to share it. For 538 Johnson, that storyteller is Bryan Sears,… Read More

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Brooklyn History Film History

Motherless Brooklyn: 10 things to know before checking out Edward Norton’s detective film

Motherless Brooklyn, a radical retro transformation of Jonathan Lethem’s book of the same name, refits the bright noir of the movie Chinatown into 1950s New York City. Edward Norton, who wrote and directed this adaptation, also stars as its central figure — Lionel Essrog or simply Brooklyn, a detective with Tourette syndrome and a photographic… Read More

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Brooklyn History Podcasts

Treasures of Downtown Brooklyn: Remnants of the former independent city, hidden in plain sight

PODCAST The fascinating history of Brooklyn’s most bustling — and most frequently misunderstood — neighborhood. Downtown Brooklyn has a history that is often overlooked by New Yorkers. You’d be forgiven if you thought Brooklyn’s civic center — with a bustling shopping district and even an industrial tech campus — seemed to lack significant remnants of… Read More

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Brooklyn History Podcasts

Crossing to Brooklyn: How the Williamsburg Bridge Changed New York City

PODCAST The story of the Williamsburg Bridge — poorly received when it was built but vital to the health of New York City Sure, the Brooklyn Bridge gets all the praise, but the city’s second bridge of the East River has an exceptional story of its own. In this episode, we’ll answer some interesting questions, including:… Read More

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Brooklyn History Podcasts

The History of DUMBO, the Brooklyn neighborhood built upon a legacy of coffee and cardboard boxes

PODCAST The history of Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood — from its industrial past to its hi-tech future. Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO) is, we think, a rather drab name for a historically significant place in Brooklyn where some of the daily habits of everyday Americans were invented. This industrial area between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges traces… Read More

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Brooklyn History On The Waterfront

The Brooklyn Historical Society’s stunning new museum in DUMBO

It just got a bit easier to access the glorious history of the Brooklyn waterfront. Don’t get me wrong; I love the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park and its clever incorporation of industrial infrastructure into public spaces — the piers, the warehouses, the cobblestone streets. (I don’t love this so much but whatever.) But things feel… Read More

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Brooklyn History

The New Brooklyn: The ups and downs of a very frenetic borough

The subtitle to Kay S. Hymowitz‘s engaging and often provocative new book The New Brooklyn: What It Takes To Bring A City Back is a bit of a misnomer. Brooklyn is not back in any conventional sense of the word. It has not returned to any kind of sense of normalcy or financial stability. In fact, Brooklyn has… Read More