A Brooklyn intellectual landmark becomes a supermarket

Mentioned in our podcast this week was the precursor to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the three-story ‘centre of Brooklyn culture‘ known as the Brooklyn Athenaeum and Reading Room. Founded in 1848 and incorporated in 1852, the Athenaeum was a combination concert hall, store for intellectuals and library (in an era before public libraries), serving… Read More


The Brooklyn Academy of Music: Enduring floods, fires and snobbery to become New York’s oldest home for the arts

PODCAST One of America’s oldest cultural institutions, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (or BAM) has an unusual history that spans over 150 years and two separate locations. We trace the story from the earliest roots of a Manhattan-Brooklyn rivalry and a discussion of high-class tastes to the greatest stars of the performing arts, including a couple… Read More

Newspapers and Newsies

Before ‘Newsies’: The Brooklyn Newsboys Strike of 1886

The grueling life of a Brooklyn newsboy, taken by Lewis Hine, 1910 (Library of Congress) The new Disney-produced Broadway musical ‘Newsies‘ puts melody to the events surrounding the Newsboys Strike of 1899. For one week that summer, young newspaper sellers fought back against their employers’ unfair pricing schemes, turning their former street corners into places… Read More

Brooklyn History On The Waterfront Podcasts

Notes from the podcast (#133): Red Hook, Brooklyn

A haunting snapshot of the Atlantic Docks, circa 1870-80s (possibly as early as 1872) photo by George Bradford Brainerd (courtesy the Brooklyn Museum)  Quite a few notes on the podcast this week! There were a lot of little details I found interesting that didn’t make the cut:Before the Water Taxi: One of the more enlightening… Read More

Brooklyn History On The Waterfront Podcasts

Red Hook, Brooklyn: A rich seafaring history, organized crime and the isolation of a beleaguered neighborhood

PODCAST Red Hook, Brooklyn, the neighborhood called by the Dutch ‘Roode Hoek’ for its red soil, became a key port during the 19th century, a stopping point for vessels carry a vast array of raw goods from the interior of the United States along the Erie Canal. In particular, two manmade harbors were among the… Read More


If Wal-Mart can’t come to Brooklyn, then Wal-Mart will bring Brooklyn to Arkansas

Francis Guy hangs in good company at the Crystal Bridges Museum. Wal-Mart is aggressively lobbying to bring its chain of big box stores to the New York City region. In the meantime, a member of the Walton family is buying up bits of New York and taking it back to Bentonville, Arkansas, the headquarters of Wal-Mart located… Read More

Brooklyn History

Holidays on Ice 1861: Skaters flock to Brooklyn’s icy ponds

Williamsburg(h)’s Union Pond, one of the finest destinations for ice skating in the city, 1863. It later became America’s first enclosed baseball field. The nation was at war one hundred and fifty years ago, but that didn’t stop the austere celebrations in the ‘borough of churches’. But while thousands of Brooklyn residents attended church that… Read More

Pop Culture

“New York was his town, and it always would be…”

I hope you all caught part one of PBS’s Woody Allen documentary last night. Part of the American Masters series, it was a beautiful tribute, not just to the filmmaker, but to 70s New York, and in particular, Woody’s old neighborhood — Midwood, Brooklyn. The second part concludes this evening at 9pm EST. I’ll be… Read More

A Happy Hour Riddle: Is Sober Drunk?

From an August 1911 edition of the New York World: I believe the address of Mr. Sober, 47 Fair Street, was near Fort Greene Park.

The other Draft Riots: Brooklyn infernos, Queens bonfires

You probably know something about the Civil War draft riots that kept New York paralyzed during the week of July 13, 1863. But New York only meant Manhattan back then. What about the rest of the future boroughs? The conscription act initiated draft lotteries throughout the area as, by 1863, the Union struggled to fill… Read More

Podcasts Wartime New York

Fernando Wood, the scoundrel mayor during the Civil War: Will New York and Brooklyn secede from the Union?

  His Honor, one of the most ambitious, most duplicitous leaders of New York in its history — as photographed by no less than Matthew Brady. PODCAST The first part of our Bowery Boys Go To War! trilogy of podcasts set during the years of the American Civil War. Fernando Wood, New York’s mayor at… Read More

Podcast Rewind: Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery

A special illustrated version of our podcast on Green-Wood Cemetery (Episode #64) is now available on our NYC History Archive feed. Just hit play and images of our topic will appear on any compatible media player. If you’re looking for a beautiful landscape of shaded hills and meandering paths, filled with classical architecture and populated with… Read More

Brooklyn’s Bergen Street and the firstborn lady of New York

Bergen Street is lovely trek through the borough’s most historic sites and neighborhoods — from its western end through Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, dipping near Park Slope and up through Prospect Heights, and past old Grant Square and the Weeksville Heritage Center, the remnants of an early 19th century free black community. Indirectly, the… Read More

Brooklyn History

Let There Be Light: Brooklyn illuminates Manhattan with a spotlight that ‘will burn your skin at three hundred feet’

That Gotham glow: The powerful Sperry searchlight drapes the dark city in light. The Woolworth Building is lit up like a candle. A thin, bright streak of light brushes across the sky and dances off the clouds above. With few buildings over fifteen stories and the city’s electrical lights at a fraction of the intensity… Read More

The explosion of a Brooklyn hat factory, February 1860

A long time ago, 151 years ago this month to be exact, a hat factory exploded in Brooklyn. Hats being far more prevalent in the social fashion then than they are today, New York and the surrounding area were, pardon the pun, brimming with them. The city of Brooklyn had to make due with one… Read More