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Friday Night Fever Gilded Age New York

What’s behind the Bronze Door? Gambling in the Gilded Age

A tantalizing stretch of New York nightlife history lies in the shadows, illegally operated, often fueled by police bribes — the opium dens of Chinatown and the speakeasies of the Village and midtown. There were also hundreds of illicit gambling rackets, called ‘poolrooms’, throughout the city in the late 19th century, usually alongside the seediest […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf True Crime

‘The Vapors’: How an Arkansas spa town became a New York gangster paradise

Owney Madden was one of New York’s most infamous gangsters, a bootlegger and murderer who seemed to cross paths with every major cultural marker of the Roaring 20s. He opened the Cotton Club (with Jack Johnson), dated Mae West, and operated a liquor smuggling racket that catered to the city’s busiest speakeasies. In essence Madden […]

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Those Were The Days

Turkey raffles were 19th century versions of bar trivia nights

Hopefully this young lady acquired this turkey by legitimate means. In this week’s podcast, I feign shock at the wild party held at the old home of famed actress Charlotte Melmoth, a former school for etiquette-turned-booze hall.  To quote historian Henry Reed Stiles directly: “After [Charlotte’s] disease, the house was converted into a tavern, which […]

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Podcasts

Case Files of the New York Police Department 1800-1915

Uniformly chic: Law enforcement officers of the New York Metropolitan Police from 1871 show off their fancy blue threads. Twenty years previous, they weren’t even required to wear standardized apparel. (Courtesy NYPL Digital Library) PODCAST We’re playing Good Cop / Bad Cop this week, as we take a close look at four events from the […]