Podcasts Politics and Protest Wartime New York

The Deadly Draft Riots of 1863: New York City and the American Civil War

This month we are marking the 160th anniversary of one of the most dramatic moments in New York City history – the Civil War Draft Riots which stormed through the city from July 13 to July 16, 1863. Thousands of people took to the streets of Manhattan in violent protest, fueled initially by anger over… Read More

Gilded Age New York Landmarks

The Fifth Avenue Hotel: Opulence, glamour and power on Madison Square

The double-breasted, cigar-chewing gentlemen who gathered in the sumptuous rooms of the Fifth Avenue Hotel were occasional connoisseurs of New York City history, and in particular, these amateur historians spoke of the very street corner where their hotel stood. Before Madison Square, when the area was a barren parade ground, one Corporal Thompson opened a roadhouse… Read More

Landmarks Podcasts

The Story of Grant’s Tomb: Upper Manhattan’s Magnificent Mausoleum

The fascinating story of Grant’s Tomb — and a quirky history that includes an ambitious architect, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, lots of ugly raspberry paint, and strange charges of animal sacrifice. The history of Grant’s Tomb plays an important role in the story of Riverside Park (released in 2018). Listen… Read More

On The Waterfront

In 1863, the Russians invaded New York City

In 1863, New Yorkers flocked to the waterfront to see a startling sight — Russian war ships in New York Harbor. They were here as a display of force, but not to threaten the United States. The fleet of Russian ships, sailing into New York Harbor in September 1863, as depicted by Harper’s Weekly. Russia’s… Read More

Amusements and Thrills

The fire at Barnum’s American Museum 155 years ago

One hundred and fifty-five years ago (on July 13, 1865), New York City lost one of its most famous, most imaginative and most politically incorrect attractions. When P.T. Barnum opened his museum in 1841, the kooky curiosities contained within the building at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street — at the foot of Park… Read More

New York Islands Podcasts

The history of Hart Island, a place of strangeness and sorrow

Few people are allowed to go onto Hart Island, the quiet, narrow island in the Long Island Sound, a lonely place in sight of the bustling community of City Island. For over 150 years, Hart Island has been New York’s potter’s field, the burial site for over one million people — unclaimed bodies, stillborn babies,… Read More

Wartime New York

“To the memory of the Brave Soldiers and Sailors Who Saved the Union”

This Monday (May 27, 2019), a Memorial Day observance will be held from 10 a.m to noon at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Riverside Park. In honor of the holiday, we’re rerunning this 2015 article on this oft-forgotten monument. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on the Upper West Side has been the centerpiece for Memorial… Read More

Podcasts 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 —… Read More

Bowery Boys Bookshelf Wartime New York

‘Shooting Lincoln’: The Complicated Story Behind America’s First Wartime Photographs

Alexander Gardner is a bit of a Nikola Tesla-like figure in American history in that his contributions were largely overlooked in his day, concealed within a partnership with a famous business titan. That titan was Mathew Brady, the most famous photographer of the 19th century, with studios in New York and Washington D.C. that captured… Read More

Bronx History

Robert E. Lee in the Hall of Fame? There were concerns even back in 1900

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the busts of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, located on the campus of Bronx Community College, would be permanently evicted, following the removal and dismantling of several sculptural depictions of the Confederate generals across the country in recent days. There are many great Americans, many of them… Read More

American History

History in the Making 4/9: The Appomattox Surrender Edition

“PEACE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE SO DISTANT”: One hundred and fifty years ago today,  Robert E Lee surrendered the Virginia army to Ulysses S. Grant. This ended the American Civil War, more or less. It took several days for the news to get around of course. The last recognized battle of the Civil War… Read More

True Crime

That rascal Daniel Sickles, the beloved politician and veteran who killed the son of Francis Scott Key

We don’t have large, parade-like funeral processions marching up the avenues as they once did during the Gilded Age and in the early years of the 20th century. These events were times of public mourning and a bit of festivity.  Most often they involved the passing of a well-connected political leader or a popular entertainers.… Read More


Months after the Draft Riots, New York celebrates the first national Thanksgiving, in the shadow of war and lunar eclipse

Above: A Thomas Nast illustration from Harper’s Weekly, November 1863, clearly putting the event in the context of war and hardship.  In practice, Thanksgiving celebrates the supposed feast between the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors in Massachusetts. But meals of ‘thanksgiving’ have been part of the Western world customs for hundreds of years, and… Read More

Know Your Mayors

George Opdyke: The mayor during the Civil War Draft Riots and his unsavory connection to New York’s fashion industry

KNOW YOUR MAYORS A modest little series about some of the greatest, notorious, most important, even most useless, mayors of New York City. Other entrants in the Bowery Boys mayoral survey can be found here.Mayor George OpdykeIn office: 1862-1863 The wealthy merchant and politician George Opdyke died on June 12, 1880, attended to by his family from… Read More

American History Wartime New York

It’s the 150th anniversary of the 1863 Civil War Draft Riots. Why should we care?

Police try to restore order in front of the New York Tribune building, a pro-Lincoln publication being attacked by rioters. Why are there no permanent remembrances of any significant kind in New York City to the Civil War Draft Riots?   It was the most grave, the most tumultuous event in New York City history… Read More