Categories
Neighborhoods Podcasts

Hell’s Kitchen: New York’s Wild West

PODCAST Hell’s Kitchen, on the far west side of Midtown Manhattan, is a neighborhood of many secrets. The unique history of this working class district veers into many tales of New York’s criminal underworld and violent riots which have shaken the streets for over 150 years. This sprawling tenement area was home to some of […]

Categories
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 […]

Categories
Gangs of New York

Tough Enough: Teen Criminal Mugshots from 100 Years Ago

Okay, maybe it’s just me that does this, but occasionally I love perusing the document archives of the New York Department of Records, a treasure trove of municipal maps and photography from the past. Buried amid the grisly crime photographs and disaster images are an interesting array of mugshots.  With little information attached, we can only try […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘The Big Crowd’: Kevin Baker takes on an unsolved mystery, the murder of Kid Twist and the secrets of a fallen mayor

New York City, 1953, the setting for Kevin Baker’s The Big Crowd. Photo by Eliot Elisofen, courtesy Life/Google imagesBOWERY BOYS BOOK OF THE MONTH Each month I’ll pick a book — either brand new or old, fiction or non-fiction — that offers an intriguing take on New York City history, something that uses history in […]

Categories
Preservation

History in the Making: Gangster’s Funeral Edition

Mary Help of Christian Church pictured in the 1920s (Courtesy NYPL) Hail Mary:  There’s a rally tomorrow evening at 6pm to save Mary Help of Christian Church in the East Village.  This unique building from 1917, once serving the area’s Italian immigrant population, has been bought by a developer and is slated for demolition. The […]

Categories
Gangs of New York

A very strange coincidence surrounds New York’s most famous gangsters and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ inspirations

Many of the early 20th century’s most renown gangsters were born in late January! Today is Al Capone‘s birthday. (He’s pictured above in his infamous mugshot.) It’s also the birthday of gambler/ Jewish mobster Arnold Rothstein.  Joe Masseria, early New York Mafia leader, was also born on this date — January 17, 1886. Enoch ‘Nucky’ Johnson — […]

A very strange coincidence surrounds New York’s most famous gangsters and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ inspirations

Many of the early 20th century’s most renown gangsters were born in late January! Today is Al Capone‘s birthday. (He’s pictured above in his infamous mugshot.) It’s also the birthday of gambler/ Jewish mobster Arnold Rothstein.  Joe Masseria, early New York Mafia leader, was also born on this date — January 17, 1886. Enoch ‘Nucky’ Johnson — […]

Categories
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 […]

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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 […]

Boys will be B’hoys: a comic taste of Williams-boig

Great sun! If you love the street lingo of 19th century New York, then you should check out Beertown B’hoys at Zuda Comics, an online comic by Steve Bialik set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, circa 1894. It’s a stylized take on New York’s criminal element, following the adventures of street kids stealing and killing their way […]

Categories
Landmarks Podcasts

A Look at the Stonewall Riots

Above: one of the few extant photographs of the actual riot PODCAST It’s the summer of 1969, and the police have raided the Stonewall, a popular gay bar in the West Village. Join us as we look at the raid, the riots, and their significance today. Listen to it for free on iTunes or other […]

The Summer Blockbuster of 1928

On this day, 79 years ago in 1928… The first ever all-talking movie, “The Lights of New York” debuted in New York’s Strand Theatre at midnight, to an enrapt audience. (It would release nationally on July 28) “Lights of New York” was a precursor to the great crime films of the 30s that would make […]