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Health and Living Podcasts

Talking Trash: A History of New York City Sanitation

PODCAST: A history of all things trash in New York City. Picture New York City under mountains of filth, heaving from clogged gutters and overflowing from trash cans. Imagine the unbearable smell rotting food and animal corpses left on the curb. And what about snow, piled up and untouched, leaving roads entirely impassable? This was […]

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Health and Living Podcasts Women's History

Saving the City: Ten New York women who changed the world during the Progressive Era

This is a podcast about kindness and care. About the bold Progressive Era pioneers who saved the lives of thousands of people in need — from the Lower East Side to Washington Heights, from Hell’s Kitchen to Fort Greene. Within just a few decades – between the 1880s and the 1920s – so much social change […]

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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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Health and Living

Earth Day in New York City 1970

Mayor John Lindsay pulled out all the stops for the first official Earth Day on April 22, 1970, with such a show that one could be mistaken in the belief that the holiday was created here. (It was officially sanctioned in San Francisco the year before.) In honor of the inaugural environmental holiday, Lindsay authorized Fifth Avenue closed […]

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Health and Living The Alienist

Scenes from New York’s public baths: How tenement dwellers got clean and cool (The Alienist)

HISTORY BEHIND THE SCENE What’s the real story behind that historical scene from your favorite TV show or feature film? A semi-regular feature on the Bowery Boys blog, we will be reviving this series as we follow along with TNT’s limited series The Alienist. Look for other articles here about other historically themed television shows (Mad Men, The […]

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Health and Living The First

The Secret History of Soft Drinks: A Tale in Four Flavors

THE FIRST PODCAST There is something very, very bizarre about a can of soda.  How did this sugary, bubbly beverage – dark brown, or neon orange, or grape, or whatever color Mountain Dew is – how did THIS become such an influential force in American culture? This is the strange and inconceivable story of how […]

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Health and Living Podcasts

The Beauty Bosses of Fifth Avenue: Elizabeth Arden & Helena Rubinstein

PODCAST Fifth Avenue’s role in the ‘revolution’ of beauty, as led by Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, New York’s boldest businesswomen of the Jazz Age. The Midtown Manhattan stretch of Fifth Avenue, once known for its ensemble of extravagant mansions owned by the Gilded Age’s wealthiest families, went through an astonishing makeover one hundred years […]

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Health and Living Podcasts

The Notorious Madame Restell: The Abortionist of Fifth Avenue

The story of New York’s most prominent abortionist of the 19th century and the unique environment of morality and secrecy which accommodated her rise on the fringes of society. Ann Lohman aka Madame Restell was one of the most vilified women of the 19th century, an abortion practitioner that dodged the law to become one […]

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Health and Living

Roosevelt Island: City of Asylums — Podcast Rewind with new material

PODCAST REWIND Originally a quiet island of orchards and stone quarries, the place we call Roosevelt Island today was once New York’s ‘city of asylums’, the place where it sent its infirm, its incarcerated, its insane. Today it has the peculiar air of a small town with one of the best views in the world. Find […]

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Health and Living Newspapers and Newsies Podcasts

Nellie Bly: Undercover in New York’s Notorious Asylum for the Insane

The story of New York World reporter Nellie Bly as she poses as a mental patient to report on the abuses of Blackwell’s Island’s Lunatic Asylum. PODCAST Nellie Bly was a determined and fearless journalist ahead of her time, known for the spectacular lengths she would go to get a good story. Her reputation was […]

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Health and Living

Foodies Unite! Brooklyn Bounty Revives Ancient Dutch Recipes

One of the most tantalizing artifacts in the collection of the Brooklyn Historical Society is Mrs. Lefferts Book, the hand-written recipe book of Maria Lott Lefferts and her daughter Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt, compiled sometime in 1830. Judging by those names, you can get that Mrs. Lefferts was from a prominent Brooklyn family.  At one point she lived […]

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Health and Living

History in the Making 7/21: Summer Baby Edition

A special new podcast is on the way for this Friday. It’s extra challenging so the blog will be a little quiet until then. Stay tuned! In the meantime, enjoy a few pictures of small children keeping cool during a hot New York City summer over 100 years ago. Pictures courtesy the Library of Congress.   […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Health and Living

Hog Heaven: The wonderfully messy tale of ‘Taming Manhattan’

Here is New York — not the evened tree-lined avenues with fashionable ladies and shiny new carriages.  Not an ordered town of impressive architecture and manicured parks, emulating and even surpassing the trappings of European society.   Those things would arrive by the 1880s; before then, they were mostly aspirational designs. Here is New York as it actually was. […]

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Health and Living

History in the Making 2/3: Bundle Day Edition

Bundle Day was an organized used-clothing drive, mounted in February 1915 by the city in association with New York’s elite families (the Astors, Vanderbilts, Cooper Hewitts, among others). “Every railroad station in the city will be a receiving point for bundles bearing … tags or the bundles may be left at police stations, public schools […]

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Health and Living

The first appearance of the shower or “rain bath” in New York

With major improvements in plumbing and home design, private ‘rain-baths’ or showers began to be installed in the wealthier American homes. This is a New York Times advertisement from November 11, 1914 for a Kenney Needle Shower which inundated the body with water from multiple showerheads. The modern form of shower was once referred to […]