Categories
Holidays Neighborhoods Podcasts

The history of the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: An electric holiday tradition illuminates Brooklyn

PODCAST: The history of the Dyker Heights Christmas lighting extravaganza, Brooklyn’s fabulous and flashy celebration of the holiday season. EPISODE 305 There’s a special kind of magic to Christmas in New York City. From that colossal Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center to the fanciful holiday displays in department store windows. But in the past three […]

Categories
Brooklyn History Film History

Motherless Brooklyn: 10 things to know before checking out Edward Norton’s detective film

Motherless Brooklyn, a radical retro transformation of Jonathan Lethem’s book of the same name, refits the bright noir of the movie Chinatown into 1950s New York City. Edward Norton, who wrote and directed this adaptation, also stars as its central figure — Lionel Essrog or simply Brooklyn, a detective with Tourette syndrome and a photographic […]

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Bridges The Alienist

The Construction of the Williamsburg Bridge — History Behind the Scene (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 website, I’ll 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 […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Brooklyn History

The New Brooklyn: The ups and downs of a very frenetic borough

The subtitle to Kay S. Hymowitz‘s engaging and often provocative new book The New Brooklyn: What It Takes To Bring A City Back is a bit of a misnomer. Brooklyn is not back in any conventional sense of the word. It has not returned to any kind of sense of normalcy or financial stability. In fact, Brooklyn has […]

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Brooklyn History Neighborhoods Podcasts

GOWANUS! Brooklyn’s Troubled Waters

PODCAST The history of the Gowanus Canal, at the heart of a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood today, once used to be quite beautiful and non-toxic. Brooklyn’s Gowanus — both the creek and the canal — is one of the most mysterious and historically important waterways in New York City. By coincidence, it also happens to be […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The history and future of Gowanus: Interview with author Joseph Alexiou

Brooklyn gentrification has reached a curious impasse — the Gowanus Canal. The neighborhood surrounding it thrives with new housing developments, trendy restaurants and bars, music venues, shuffleboard clubs and even a Whole Foods. Curbed just named it neighborhood of the year. It’s now a destination for foodies. Pity about that fetid and uniquely aromatic body of […]

Categories
Brooklyn History Podcasts

The History of Greenpoint, Brooklyn: An Industrial-Strength Story

PODCAST The history of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint and the oft-polluted Newtown Creek. Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has a surprising history of both bucolic green pastures and rancid oil patches. Before the 19th century this corner of Brooklyn was owned by only a few families with farms (and the slaves that tended them). But with the future […]

Categories
Pop Culture

NYC history in pop culture: “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”

It was a pretty spectacular year for history lovers in pop culture this year as the year’s best film, television and theater all seemed to take inspiration from the New York City of old.  Here are ten moments that I particularly loved that expressed the unending bounty of ideas from the people, places and events […]

Categories
Brooklyn History

The mysterious death of Calvert Vaux

On November 19, 1895,  Calvert Vaux went for a morning walk from his son’s home in Brooklyn. He never returned. The 70 year old architect had helped create New York City. His landscape collaborations with Frederick Law Olmsted had given Manhattan its Central Park and Brooklyn its Prospect Park and Fort Greene Park. His own […]

Categories
Mysterious Stories Podcasts

Haunted Hipsters: Four Ghost Stories of Brooklyn

Dark skies over the Brooklyn Bridge, from a 1905 postcard (courtesy MCNY) PODCAST  Brooklyn is the setting for this quartet of classic ghost stories, all set before the independent city was an official borough of New York City.  This is a Brooklyn of old stately mansions and farms, with railroad tracks laid through forests and […]

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Brooklyn History

The horror of moving to Brooklyn — from a 1905 comic strip

Above: Food can do strange things to you at night: an excerpt from McCay’s January 7, 1905 strip, published two days after the one printed in full below. Dream of the Rarebit Fiend was one of America’s first great comic strips and easily one of the weirdest. Each eight-panel or nine-panel strip featured an individual […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Why are there so many Henry Streets in New York City?

Manhattan’s Henry Street looking south, 1935, photo by Berenice Abbott (NYPL) Since Manhattan and Brooklyn developed as two separate cities before they were intertwined within consolidated New York City in 1898, it’s not surprising to see similar street names in both boroughs, deriving from different origins.  But the Henrys being honored in these street names […]

Categories
Gilded Age New York Podcasts

Consolidation! The tale of five boroughs and one big city

PODCAST Our 150th episode! Here’s the story of how two very big cities and a whole bunch of small towns and villages — completely different in nature, from farmland to skyscraper — became the greatest city in the world. This is the tale of Greater New York, the forming of the five boroughs into one […]

Categories
Brooklyn History Mysterious Stories

A Brooklyn ghost story: A famous actress, a rowdy tavern, Cobble Hill’s ‘ghost-haunted spot’ and a fool named Boerum

Above: While this is the old Brooklyn Schermerhorn house, it’s of a similar type to one that Ms. Melmoth may have owned, quickly becoming a tavern after her death. Less than two hundred years ago, in the area approximate to the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens today, there was a very, very rowdy tavern. It was […]

Categories
Brooklyn History

I’ve been out on jury duty yesterday so I haven’t had time to write anything for the blog. However, emerging from the courtroom on the 21st floor of the Kings County courtroom on Jay Street, I was able to take a few pictures of the clouds rolling over Manhattan. It occurs to me how few […]