Podcasts Politics and Protest

William ‘Boss’ Tweed: The King of Tammany Hall Was Born 200 Years Ago Today

One of our great sources of inspiration here on the Bowery Boys Podcast was born 200 years ago today — William Tweed, otherwise known as Boss Tweed. This doesn’t mean he was a great guy. In fact, as the boss of America’s most infamous political machine Tammany Hall, you could say he formalized all the… Read More

Gilded Age New York Podcasts

Boss Tweed’s House of Corruption: A Tale of Crooked Schemes and Unchecked Power

PODCAST: How the Tweed Courthouse became a symbol for everything rotten about 19th century American politics. The roots of modern American corruption traces themselves back to a handsome — but not necessarily revolutionary — historic structure sitting behind New York City Hall. The Tweed Courthouse is more than a mere landmark. Once called the New York County… Read More

Gilded Age New York

The Boss Tweed connection to St. Sava, the cathedral destroyed by fire

New York City lost a very interesting landmark this past weekend. Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, at West 25th and Broadway, was destroyed in a spectacular and mysterious four-alarm fire on Sunday, its windows shattered in shafts of flame, its ceiling reduced to cinders. If you’re a podcast listener, you may know this place… Read More


Gotham Court and the lost neighborhood of Cherry Hill

Yesterday I went searching for remnants of the old Cherry Hill neighborhood. There are none, as far as I could tell. It’s not the first New York City neighborhood to entirely vanish in the rush of progress — is it, Robert Moses ? — however it may be the one that began with the most… Read More


At The Ready: The History of the New York City Fire Department

  The distinguished members of New York’s various volunteer fire brigades, posing for the photographer Matthew Brady in 1858PODCAST  The New York City Fire Department (or FDNY) protects the five boroughs from a host of disasters and mishaps — five-alarm blazes, a kitchen fire run amok, rescue operations and even those dastardly midtown elevators, always… Read More

Health and Living

The Strangers Hospital: Your special home on Avenue D, brought to you by Boss Tweed’s plumber king

A genuine survivor: The building to the right was once the Strangers Hospital in the 1870s.  This picture, by Berenice Abbott, was taken many decades later, in 1937.  And the building is still around today! (Picture NYPL) New York used to lump the sick, the poor and the homeless into one mass of needy unwanted.… Read More

The legend of bank robber ‘Red’ Leary, his wife Kate, and the greatest jail break in Lower East Side history

 ‘Red’ Leary was one of the famous bank robbers of the 1870s, assisting in heists all along the Northeast. Above is an illustration of a bank robbery in Montreal, Canada, displaying some of the tools found at the crime scene. They don’t talk about ‘Red’ Leary anymore down in the streets of the Lower East… Read More

True Crime

William ‘Boss’ Tweed meets his end on Ludlow Street

Today is a day of big historical remembrances, from the 150th anniversary of the first battle of the Civil War to the 50th anniversary of man’s first entry into space. But to me, April 12th will always be the day that William ‘Boss’ Tweed died in his cell at the Ludlow Street Jail in 1878,… Read More

Those Were The Days

How to win a New York election, in six easy, illegal steps

Rowdy drunks on New Years eve? Angry protesters? No, just a jailcell full of “fraudulent voters in custody at the United States Circuit Court, New York. (1876)” [source] Ah, electioneering in the 1800s! You can smell the corruption in the air, the perfume of cigar smoke, the sweat of a street gang. Voting was easily… Read More

Mayor Thomas Gilroy: printer’s devil, and Tammany’s, too

KNOW YOUR MAYORS Our modest little series about some of the greatest, notorious, most important, even most useless, mayors of New York City. Other entrants in our mayoral survey can be found here.Mayor Thomas Francis GilroyIn office: one term 1893-1894 When it comes to corruption, you can’t get more front and center than Thomas Francis… Read More

Before the H&M: 42nd Street and 5th Avenue

The blog will be a little slow this week as we work on this week’s podcast. I’ll try and put up some regular postings starting tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this 1885 view of the corner of 42nd and 5th Avenue. The fenced-in area to the left would have been the reservoir (the New York… Read More

Chelsea’s old Opera House: from robber barons to BBQ

In last Friday’s podcast on the Hotel Chelsea, I mentioned a building that was located very near by called the Grand Opera House, at the northwest corner of 23rd Street and 8th Avenue. Here it is: The opera house sprang up in 1868, the project of Samuel N. Pike, who purchased the land directly from… Read More

Independence Day 1876! (Where are you, Mr. Tweed?)

(Click for greater detail) The city of New York unfurled its patriotism in a lavish celebration of America’s 100th birthday. The illustration above pictures a great rally at Union Square. Later revelers would gather at City Hall for an elaborate fireworks display with “volumes of sulphurous vaper wreath[ing] the City Hall until it seemed some… Read More

Podcasts Those Were The Days

William ‘Boss’ Tweed and the bitter days of Tammany Hall

Hail to the thief: an imposing man with money on his mind ___________________________________ You cannot understand New York without understanding its most corrupt politician — William ‘Boss’ Tweed, a larger than life personality with lofty ambitions to steal millions of dollars from the city. With the help of his ‘Tweed Ring’, the former chair-maker had… Read More

Charming mayor A. Oakey Hall: coy, clueless or corrupt?

An early portrait of A. Oakey Hall as photographed by Matthew Brady KNOW YOUR MAYORS Our modest little series about some of the greatest, notorious, most important, even most useless, mayors of New York City. Other entrants in our mayoral survey can be found here. Mayor A. Oakey Hall In office: 1869-1872 Few leaders of… Read More