Categories
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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Politics and Protest

New York City and the Underground Railroad: Escaping to freedom through a hostile city

PODCAST For thousands of people escaping the bonds of slavery in the South, the journey to freedom wound its way through New York City via the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a loose, clandestine network of homes, businesses and churches, operated by freed black people and white abolitionists who put it upon themselves — often […]

Categories
The First

The Plant Doctor: The Extraordinary Life Story of George Washington Carver

THE FIRST PODCAST How much do you know about George Washington Carver, the man born into slavery who became America’s most famous botanist in the first half of the 20th century? He didn’t discover the peanut, a legume commonplace in the human diet for thousands of years, nor did he invent peanut butter. What Carver […]

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Politics and Protest

Listening to the Silent Parade of 1917: The Forgotten Civil Rights March

“To the beat of muffled drums 8,000 negro men, women and children marched down Fifth Avenue yesterday in a parade of ‘silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression’ inflicted upon them in this country, and in other parts of the world. Without a shout or a cheer they made their cause known through the […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Down The Up Staircase: A Century of Black Lives In A Crumbling Old House

The extraordinary house at the heart of Down the Up Staircase is currently for sale.  “411 Convent Avenue is a House located in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood in Manhattan, NY,” the blog Street Easy dryly notes.  “411 Convent Avenue was built in 1901 and has 3 stories and 1 unit.” Bruce D. Haynes, a professor […]

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Podcasts

Before Harlem: The Stories of New York’s Forgotten Black Communities

PODCAST The history of African-American settlements and neighborhoods which once existed in New York City Today we sometimes define New York City’s African-American culture by place – Harlem, of course, and also Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, neighborhoods that developed for groups of black residents in the 20th century. [geo_mashup_map] But by no means were these […]

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Landmarks

African Burial Ground: New York’s unforgettable monument (NPS 100)

This month America celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the organization which protects the great natural and historical treasures of the United States. There are a number of NPS locations in the five borough areas. Throughout the next few weeks, we will focus on a few of our favorites.   For more information, […]

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Friday Night Fever Podcasts

The tale of the Cotton Club: “The Aristocrat of Harlem”

PODCAST The musical story of the Cotton Club, the most famous (and infamous) nightclub of the Jazz Age. The Cotton Club, Harlem’s most prominent nightclub during the Prohibiton era, delivered some of the greatest music legends of the Jazz Age — Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, the Nicolas Brothers.  Some of the most iconic songs in the American […]

Categories
Friday Night Fever

The tale of the Cotton Club: “The Aristocrat of Harlem”

PODCAST The musical story of the Cotton Club, the most famous (and infamous) nightclub of the Jazz Age.   The Cotton Club, Harlem’s most prominent nightclub during the Prohibiton era, delivered some of the greatest music legends of the Jazz Age — Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, the Nicolas Brothers.  Some of the most iconic songs […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Modern Family: Black and Latino Alliances in New York City

The political landscape of modern New York City is a stew of neighborhood, borough, financial and ethnic interests built upon over two centuries of experience and tradition.  The most interesting story of the past fifty years — both locally and nationally — is the ascension of minority voices into the public sphere, reflecting population changes but […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘Spectacle’: The Story of Ota Benga

In 1906, visitors to the Bronx Zoo observed a rather bizarre sight in the Monkey House — the exhibition of a man in African dress, often accompanied by a parrot or an orangutan. An African pygmy, so read the sign, “Age, 23, Height, 4 feet 11 inches, Weight 103 pounds, Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free […]

Categories
True Crime

‘Days of Rage’ and Nights of Terror

Right before noon on March 6, 1970, an explosion tore open a lovely Greenwich Village townhouse at 18 West 11th Street and awoke New York City to a violent new threat. The remains of three bodies were discovered in the smoking debris but they weren’t residents of this quiet neighborhood. They were members of The Weather […]

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Parks and Recreation

Reservoir Square — 150 years ago!

Here are three stunning stereoscopic views of old Reservoir Square, the park next to the Murray Hill Reservoir that became sadly vacant after the fiery destruction of the Crystal Palace.  These stereoscopes — ancestors to the View-Masters which some of you may remember from childhood – were taken in 1865. Now without its dazzling occupant, the park […]

Categories
Holidays

On this Veteran’s Day, a salute to the Harlem Hellfighters!

The men of the 369th who were awarded France’s Criox de Guerre for distinguished acts of heroism:  Pvt. Ed Williams, Herbert Taylor, Pvt. Leon Fraitor, Pvt. Ralph Hawkins. Back Row: Sgt. H. D. Prinas, Sgt. Dan Strorms, Pvt. Joe Williams, Pvt. Alfred Hanley, and Cpl. T. W. Taylor New York’s 369th Infantry Regiment was America’s […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Five items from the Village Voice, 50 years ago this week

Washington Square North, looking west, 1950, photo by Walter Sanders, Life Magazine The entire back catalog of the Village Voice, New York’s original alternative weekly, is available online through Google News.  The early issues are especially full of character, a scrappy counter-culture organ which provides an interesting window into downtown Manhattan.  Here are some highlights […]