Podcasts Revolutionary History

New York: The first federal capital and birthplace of the Bill of Rights

PODCAST Part Two of our two-part series on New York City in the years following the Revolutionary War. During a handful of months in 1789 and 1790, representatives of the new nation of the United States came together in New York City to make decisions which would forever affect the lives of Americans. Related: Listen […]


The Statue of Liberty turns 130 years old: Eleven facts about the near calamity that was her 1886 dedication

The Statue of Liberty celebrates her 130th birthday tomorrow. Technically, I suppose, it’s the anniversary of her dedication, a star-studded, pomp-laden ceremony that took place on Friday, October 28, 1886. But for many months previous, she was a fierce presence in the harbor, as the copper monument was arduously stitched together from far flung pieces — including an arm which […]

American History Bronx History

The United States Capitol Dome was built in the Bronx

In the fall of 1783 Lewis Morris, signer of the Declaration of Independence, helpfully suggested in a letter to the Continental Congress that his own bucolic estate Morrisania (in today’s area of the South Bronx) would make a fine home for the new capital of the United States.  That didn’t happen, of course, but the Bronx […]

American History

Remembering the Wall Street bombing of 1920

Lunchtime down on Wall Street today is chaotic mess of brokers and bankers on cell phones, tour groups, messengers on bikes, police, construction workers, people delivering lunch and the stray old lady walking her dog. Ninety-five years ago today, in 1920, it would have practically been the same, sans the cell phones. So it’s particularly disturbing […]

Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Ten holiday gift ideas for history buffs: The best reads of 2014 with Robert Moses, Coney Island and the Statue of Liberty

Illustration from Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City GIFT GUIDE What do you get for that history fanatic in your life?  Afraid of buying them a book that they may have already read?  Here are nine books published in 2014 that I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year, illustrating wild and colorful […]


Inside Gimbels traverse, the secret perch near Herald Square

Looking up to the Gimbels traverse overhead on 32nd Street (Flickr/Docking Bay 93) One of our podcast listeners Alexander Rea sent over the following photographs of a tucked-away place in one of the busiest areas of New York City — the Gimbels traverse on W. 32nd Street, in the Herald Square shopping district. No doubt you’ve […]

Pop Culture

AMC’s ‘Turn’: The next great New York history TV show?

BBC America’s Copper, depicting the grit and crime of 1860s New York, was recently cancelled (although petitions are currently circulating, demanding a Season Three). But the void of history-related television will soon be filled again with Turn, AMC’s Revolutionary War-era drama on George Washington’s spy network, called The Culper Ring.  What do you think? Although […]


What a resume! Cass Gilbert’s three stunning prequels to the Woolworth Building

From this angle, you can see two of Cass Gilbert’s creation, the West Street Building and the Woolworth under construction.  View of his Broadway-Chambers Building is obscured by the building to the left. (LOC)It’s Woolworth Building week here in New York City!  The lights of Frank Woolworth‘s treasured office tower were turned on in an […]

Mad Men

Odds and ends: Mad Men, NY Observer and great books!

Drinks with the Drapers: we may see the end of 1967 in the opening episode. (courtesy AMC)‘Mad Men’ Season 6 begins this Sunday 9EST.  If you’re a fan of late ’60s New York and American pop culture from that period, follow along with me on Twitter at @boweryboys.  As I do with ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and […]

Julian Fellowes ‘Gilded Age’, New York’s ‘Downton Abbey’: Some suggestions and a few pipe dreams

It’s a different world: Illustrating the difficulty of a New York TV show set in the 1880s, above is a picture of the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The Reservoir is off to the left, where the New York Public Library is today. More on this photo here. Ever since the announcement that […]

City of debauchery: New York history and Sunday night TV

Party at Pompadou’s Bordello: Cocktails and carousing on ‘Copper’ Courtesy BBC America My first ever column for the Huffington Post is available to read on their site. I look at the different ways that three Sunday night ‘prestige’ shows — BBC America’s Copper, AMC’s Mad Men, and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire — approach the task of […]

The Civil War Draft Riots, presented in miniature

The BBC America series ‘Copper‘, set in the famed Five Points neighborhood, begins this Sunday at 10pm EST. I’ll be Tweeting along during the show and hope to have a reaction post to it on the blog the next day. The video above gives me hope for a program that takes its historical depiction and […]

Odds and Ends: St. Marks, 1930s Harlem, Fernando Wood

Above: A shave for 15 cents and a haircut for a quarter, found in Harlem on 422-424 Lenox Avenue, photographed by Berenice Abbott on this date in 1938. The business next door advertises ‘4 radio photo poses’ for a dime. The stoop on the left leads up to a small church.  Thanks to everybody for […]

Who won the Great Gimbels Air Race of 1911?

The place to be one hundred years ago today was Greeley Square, that bustling public space just south of 34th Street from Herald Square. Thousands of people crowded the sidewalks outside the department stores that afternoon, and many hundreds more shoved themselves into the elevated subway station. These crowds were centered around Gimbels department store […]

‘Fringe’ benefits light up a forgotten New York fort

I’m an unabashed junkie of the sci-fi TV series ‘Fringe’, and the writers (or at one of them) seems to be a fan of New York history. One of the conceits of the series involves an alternate universe with things are just slightly different from ours. Most notably, the World Trade Center was never attacked. […]