Film History Science

The original IMAX: Jacob Riis and his magic lantern

Jacob Riis changed the world with “How The Other Half Lives.” By using the new technology of flash photography, Riis was able to capture the squalid conditions of Manhattan tenements in a way no mere paragraph, drawing or sermon could. The startling photographs contained in this book did not originate there, however. Riis debuted them… Read More

Bowery Boys Movie Club Film History Podcasts

Once Upon A Time In Five Points: The Bowery Boys Movie Club revisits Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York”

As a celebration of filmmaker Martin Scorsese (whose film The Irishman opens this month), we’ve just released an episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club to the general Bowery Boys: New York City History audience. This is an exclusive podcast for those who support us on Patreon. For current patrons, we’ve also just released a… Read More

Gilded Age New York Podcasts

That daredevil Steve Brodie! Did the former newsboy really jump off the Brooklyn Bridge?

PODCAST A tale of the ‘sporting life’ of the Bowery from the 1870s and 80s. A former newsboy named Steve Brodie grabs the country’s attention by leaping off the Brooklyn Bridge on July 23, 1886. Or did he? The story of Steve Brodie has all the ingredients of a Horatio Alger story. He worked the streets as a newsboy when he… Read More


Can you tell me how to get to Slaughterhouse Street?

Mulberry Street is one of the most important streets in New York City history, a central artery of immigrant life for almost two hundred years. Today its northern end is Bleecker Street, crossing Houston Street and heads all the way down to Bayard Street where it curves to the east (the so-called “Mulberry Bend”) where it… Read More

Mad Men Pop Culture

‘Mad Men’ ends this Sunday, and ‘Copper’ begins, but war and assassinations unite both

WARNING The article contains a couple light spoilers about the current season ‘Mad Men’ on AMC and a few on last season’s ‘Copper’ on BBC America.   While 1968 comes to a close on Sunday night with the season finale of ‘Mad Men‘, another version of New York history returns on another channel. ‘Copper‘, starting… Read More

The Civil War Draft Riots, presented in miniature

The BBC America series ‘Copper‘, set in the famed Five Points neighborhood, begins this Sunday at 10pm EST. I’ll be Tweeting along during the show and hope to have a reaction post to it on the blog the next day. The video above gives me hope for a program that takes its historical depiction and… Read More

‘Copper’ aka Five Points, the TV show

I’ve been traveling the last few days and haven’t been able to get a blog posting up about the season finale of ‘Mad Men’, but I promise one within the next couple days.  In the meantime, another television show will take on New York City history later this summer. ‘Copper‘ is a ten-part British production… Read More

Gangs of New York

Execution in Five Points: Piracy, slave trade and the Tombs

Sometimes you can look back at history and think that nothing ever changes. And sometimes you find something that makes New York seem extraordinary unrecognizable, a city besieged by near barbaric crises. The image above depicts a scene from February 21, 1862, in the courtyard of the famous Tombs prison in the Five Points neighborhood.… Read More

Park life: The anniversary of a name change in Chinatown

Next week begins ‘ghost stories’ week on the blog, but I need to make one more trip to Chinatown, the topic of the last podcast. As I just wrote about Columbus Day last week, I would be remiss if I skipped this very coincidental date in history. It was exactly one hundred years ago yesterday… Read More


Manhattan’s Chinatown: a tribute to the old neighborhood, and to the temptations of rich delicacies and basement vices

  PODCAST Manhattan’s Chinatown is unique among New York neighborhoods as its origins and its provocative history can still be traced in many of the buildings and streets still in existence. Two hundred years ago, the sight of a Chinese person would have astonished New Yorkers, and the first to arrive in the city were… Read More

The legendary police headquarters at 300 Mulberry Street

There is nothing extraordinary at 300 Mulberry Street anymore, just a standard five-story apartment complex and a parking garage, hugged to its south by a Subway sandwich shop. But for much of the Gilded Age, this address was the grand headquarters for New York’s police department. The Mulberry Street building was New York’s center of law enforcement from… Read More

Podcast Rewind: The Fate of Five Points

How did the city’s worst neighborhood become this park?A special illustrated version of our podcast ‘Five Points Part 2: The Fate of Five Points” is now available on our NYC History Archive feed. In our second podcast on the notorious Five Points neighborhood, we see how the district changed with the influx of new immigrants… Read More

Bowery Boys Greatest Hits: the beginnings of Five Points

“Donovan’s Lane,” one of the many decrepit delights of the Five Points dark tenement world (from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper) It will come as no surprise to New York history junkies out there that our most popular podcast of all time is our introduction to that most hallowed place of scum and disease, crime and… Read More


The Whyos: Gang of New York – PODCAST

Faces of the Whyo Gang: Googy Corcoran, Clops Connolly, Big Josh Hines and Baboon Connolly PODCAST: The Whyos (pronounced Why-Ohs) were New York’s most notorious gang after the Civil War, organizing their criminal activities and terrorizing law abiding citizens of the Gilded Age. Find out when they lived, how they broke the law and who they… Read More


Beware the Forty Thieves, very first gang of New York

Above: the crowded streets of Five Points, where the Forty Thieves first made mischief What does it mean to be the ‘first’ gang in New York? Most likely, it means you weren’t really the first. Just the first to be caught at doing it. New Yorkers seem to create a grim romanticism around 19th century… Read More