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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 […]

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Health and Living The Knick

The Knick is now on HBO Max: Our guide to this twisted medical series

The grim, bloody wonderful business known as The Knick — primarily set in a New York City hospital at the start of the 20th century — only got two seasons but they were great fun. This virtuoso dark drama, created by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, was directed by Steven Soderbergh in a shadowy and […]

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Health and Living

The origin of snow removal for all New Yorkers, rich and poor

For more information on New York City’s history with snow removal, listen to our 2019 show on the history of the city’s Department of Sanitation. For some of New York City’s history, snowstorms have been completely paralyzing, and most residents had to clear their own streets, an impossibility in areas of a more rural character. […]

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Health and Living Podcasts

Two Stories of Historic Vaccines: The End of Polio and Smallpox

We released the following show on the history of vaccines back in early April 2020 when the idea of a COVID 19 vaccine seemed little more than distant fantasy.  Just this past Monday, on December 14, Sandra Lindsay, the director of critical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens became the first American […]

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Health and Living

Open-air schools and sitting-out bags: Keeping children safe during tuberculosis scares

This is a sitting-out bag. No child ever wore one because he wanted to impress his friends. But this awkward example of outdoor wear was created to save lives and keep students educated during one very concerning health crisis. Teaching children during perilous moments of disease spread had been a challenge since the invention of […]

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Health and Living Podcasts

The Curious Case of Typhoid Mary: The Race to Quell an Epidemic

PODCAST An account of a mysterious typhoid fever outbreak and the woman — Mary Mallon, the so-called Typhoid Mary — at the center of the strange epidemic. The tale of Typhoid Mary is a harrowing detective story and a chilling tale of disease outbreak at the start of the 20th century. Why are whole healthy […]

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Food History Health and Living

Upper West Side’s Astor Market: The future of grocery shopping

The Astor Market once sat on the corner of 95th Street and Broadway, a ‘model’ market built in 1915, devised by Vincent Astor, son of John Jacob Astor IV (and whose wife Brooke Astor may be better known to you) to combat some of the high food prices brought on by World War I. Astor […]

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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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Amusements and Thrills Health and Living

The Bowery Boys New York City swimsuit edition, 1880-1920

 The notion of organized ‘ocean bathing’ — actually going into the water for health, relaxation and enjoyment — was really a 19th century invention, first popularized in the United States during the 1830s at the Marine Pavilion on the Rockaway Peninsula. For propriety’s sake, people would enter a bathing hut hitched to a horse and […]

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Health and Living Podcasts

The First Ambulance: The Humans (and Horses) That Saved the City

EPISODE 329 Did you know that the first modern urban ambulance — the ‘mobile hospital’ — was invented in New York City? On June 4, 1869, America’s first ambulance service went into operation from Bellevue Hospital with a driver, a surgeon, a horse and equipment including a stretcher, a stomach pump, bandages and sponges, handcuffs, […]

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Health and Living Podcasts Staten Island History

The Staten Island Quarantine War

EPISODE 325 In 1858, during two terrible nights of violence, the needs of the few outweighed the needs of the many when a community, endangered for decades and ignored by the state, finally reached its breaking point. In Staten Island, just south the spot of today’s St. George Ferry Terminal, where thousands board and disembark […]

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Health and Living Podcasts

Moving Day! Mayhem and Madness in Old New York

EPISODE 324 At last! The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast looks at one of the strangest traditions in this city’s long history — that curious custom known as Moving Day. Every May 1st, for well over two centuries, from the colonial era to World War II, rental leases would expire simultaneously, and thousands […]

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Health and Living Podcasts

A History of Getting Well: Podcasts on Typhoid Mary, Bellevue Hospital and more

The COVID-19 outbreak has gotten many people to look back at the handling of past outbreaks in the United States — most notably the 1918 Spanish Flu. Epidemics have actually shaped New York City history as well. While we don’t have a podcast episode on the Spanish Flu crisis, we do have several shows that […]

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Health and Living

The Turtle Cure: In New York, a German doctor offers an unusual remedy for tuberculosis

“I am here to show what the serum will do,” said the visiting doctor from Berlin. “That is my only answer to those who have natural doubts before they have made observations.” Dr. Friedrich Franz Friedmann had come to New York in February 1913 to tackle one of the city’s most persistent scourges upon its […]

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Health and Living

Quarantine on the Lower East Side: A frightening tale from 1892

The neighborhood converging at the intersections of Essex Street, Rutgers Street, Canal Street and East Broadway on the Lower East Side — officially called Straus Square** — somehow seems exactly as it might have looked 125 years ago. Anchored by Seward Park and its beautiful Carnegie library, it retains some of its turn-of-the-century character, while […]