Bowery Boys Movie Club Film History

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 […]

Gangs of New York

PODCAST REWIND: Wrath of the Whyos, vicious gang of New York

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 were — from Googie Corcoran to Dandy Johnny, as well as two particularly notable guys […]

Brooklyn History Gangs of New York

Screaming Phantoms, Tomahawks, Phantom Lords, Dirty Ones and other gangs of 1970s Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Dirty Ones, a notorious gang from Williamsburg. My new column for A24 Films (a tie-in to the new movie A Most Violent Year) is up on their site devoted to culture and events from 1981. For this article, I look at what some of the dangerous undercurrents to life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1981. “By […]

Gangs of New York

Who were the Short Tails? The crazy, violent habits of the real Lower East Side gang

One of the few photos ever taken of any New York street gang was this image shot in 1887 by Jacob Riis of the Short Tails  under a pier in Corlears Hook.  The Short Tails were a particularly nasty gang of criminals who terrorized the Lower East Side and the docks of Corlears Hook roughly […]


At The Ready: The History of the New York City Fire Department

The distinguished members of New York’s various volunteer fire brigades, posing for the photographer Matthew Brady in 1858PODCAST  The New York City Fire Department (or FDNY) protects the five boroughs from a host of disasters and mishaps — five-alarm blazes, a kitchen fire run amok, rescue operations and even those dastardly midtown elevators, always getting […]

On The Waterfront

The South Street kidnappings: During Prohibition, did ‘shanghai gangs’ really lurk in the shadow of the ports?

The old port at night was no place to be. Weathered taverns and boardinghouses sit next to uninhabited warehouses, separated by dimly lit South Street from the shadow of rocking masts and creaking piers that sank into the black water of the East River. A lonely sailor, soused from the wares of the cheapest Water […]

Those Were The Days

Sugar high: Yonkers boys, up to no good

A band of junior ruffians, gathered around the detritus of a sugar plant in Yonkers, on the Hudson River, c. 1906. I can’t quite make out what they’re doing, and I possibly don’t wanna know. This is very possibly an old plant located in same area as the present corporate headquarters of American Sugar Refining, just […]

Who are the Spring Street Fencibles?

Spring Street and Broadway in 1785, 30 years before the events of the article below. Illustration courtesy NYPL digital images While researching the Gracie Mansion podcast, I found mention of a street gang by the name of the Spring Street Fencibles, or simply, the Spring Streeters. Obviously, the streets of New York have been crawling […]

Corlears Hook and the Pirate Gangs of the East River

The Short Tail Gang sit underneath a pier at Corlears Hook, picture taken in 1890, long after all the great pirate gangs of the area had disbanded, been eaten by rats, or joined the Confederate army (listen to podcast for explanation!) PODCAST Download this show it for FREE on iTunes or other podcasting services. Click […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Roughs: New York’s mangy, murderous heritage

An excerpt from “Lights And Shadows of New York Life; or, the Sights and Sensations of the Great City” by James D McCabe Jr, published in 1872, quantifying the gang element of New York under the quaint sobriquet ‘the Roughs’: “Another class of those who live in open defiance of the law consists of the […]

The Dead Rabbits — Were they ever alive?

The Bowery Boys-Dead Rabbits kerfluffle: it definitely happened, but not how you think it did In one of the sources we used for this week’s podcast — Tyler Anbinder’s wonderful and sober history on Five Points — the author throws out a theory that’s truly devastating for lovers of New York history, one that flies […]


To get you in the mood for the weekend, every Friday we’ll be celebrating ‘FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER’, featuring an old New York nightlife haunt, from the dance halls of 19th Century Bowery, to the massive warehouse spaces of the mid-90s. Past entries can be found HERE. The Bridge Cafe, a quiet bar and brunch destination […]