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Holidays New Amsterdam

How Dutch New Amsterdam helped create the American Christmas tradition

After reading this article on the origins of Christmas, find some information about a virtual Christmas in Old New York tour from Bowery Boys Walks. There are many different ways to celebrate Christmas, a national holiday derived from the union of Christianity and capitalism. How one chooses to mark the occasion is a reflection of […]

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Gilded Age New York Holidays

The story of the world’s first Christmas tree with electric lights

The world’s very first Christmas tree with electric lights was displayed in 1882 at the home of Edward Hibberd Johnson in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City. Not only did it glow with this innovative new form of illumination, this Christmas tree also spun around, revolving like a flashy new car at an […]

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Holidays

Two holiday excerpts from the Bowery Boys’ book Adventures In Old New York

If you’re looking for some last many gifts for loved ones this year, may we suggest our book The Bowery Boys’ Adventures In Old New York? Find it in bookstores or order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your independent bookstore. Here are a couple holiday-themed excerpts from the book, situated alongside hundreds of […]

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Holidays

Festively bonkers: Welcome to the Dyker Heights Christmas light show

Holiday traditions in Manhattan are of course known the world over, from the glowing light displays of Park Avenue to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. But they lack a certain human touch, spun from wealthy corporations and honored tradition. Which is what makes Dyker Height’s annual lighting spectacular (festival? competition? freak show?) so fascinating. It’s Brooklyn’s […]

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Holidays

Making Green: The history of New York’s Christmas tree market

For many, the Christmas holiday in New York City finally comes to life when the sidewalks sprout evergreens. The sight and smell of curbside Christmas tree sellers ushers in the season in the most pleasing way. (Pleasing for the passerby; on a rather cold day, I can’t imagine it too pleasing for the seller.) As […]

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Christmas

Santa Insanity: How a self-proclaimed Messiah and cult leader became a popular Santa Claus model

Early one spring day in 1922, while dutifully posing at the Art Students League on West 57th Street, Santa Claus had a fatal heart attack in front of a classroom of students. Below — He knows when you’ve been bad or good:  A Christmas issue of Judge Magazine from 1919 by Guy Lowy, who studied at the […]

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, 190 years ago, that an iconic poem was written in Chelsea

On Christmas Eve, one hundred and ninety years ago today, wealthy landowner and august Columbia professor Clement Clarke Moore completed a seasonal poem to read to his children. He penned the whimsical little tale — a throwaway, really, in comparison to his great and respected writings in Greek and biblical literature — from a desk […]

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, 190 years ago, that an iconic poem was written in Chelsea

On Christmas Eve, one hundred and ninety years ago today, wealthy landowner and august Columbia professor Clement Clarke Moore completed a seasonal poem to read to his children. He penned the whimsical little tale — a throwaway, really, in comparison to his great and respected writings in Greek and biblical literature — from a desk […]

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Holidays

Good grief! Madison Avenue’s connection to ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

The first time: A TV Guide advertisement from 1965 announcing the upcoming Charlie Brown special, “presented … by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola.” [source] A Charlie Brown Christmas, the holiday special to end all holiday specials, needed a little encouragement from the Madison Avenue advertising world in 1965 to spring into existence. […]

Good grief! New York’s Madison Avenue connection to CBS’s original broadcast of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

The first time: A TV Guide advertisement from 1965 announcing the upcoming Charlie Brown special, “presented … by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola.” [source] A Charlie Brown Christmas, the holiday special to end all holiday specials, needed a little encouragement from the Madison Avenue advertising world in 1965 to spring into existence. […]

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Christmas

Pre-Scrooged: The Ghost of New York Christmas specials

A Bill Murray holiday classic is closely linked to a forgotten 1955 teleplay Tracing itself back to one of America’s first television broadcast station, New York’s local WCBS-TV can claim a host of significant achievements, including the first regular broadcasts in color and the first baseball game in color (with the Brooklyn Dodgers, naturally). Their […]

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Holidays

‘Christmas or Chanukah?’: New Yorkers ‘discover’ the Jewish holiday

Early news reporting on the celebration of Hanukkah (or Chanukah, as it was popularly referred then) in New York usually took a arms-length approach, as most of their readership knew little about the celebration 100 years ago. More than one old Tribune or World carried a variant of the headline ‘Jews Celebrate Chanukah’ , as though there […]

Happy Holidays from The Bowery Boys!

The Bowery Boys wish you all a spectacular holiday season! To celebrate, just hit the play button above and warm yourself in front of a great New York tradition. Many New Yorkers have fond memories of the WPIX Yule Log, which first ran in the evening of December 24, 1966, the first and most famous […]

The little engine that could in downtown Manhattan

Once upon a time, in December 1900, there was a toy store on 67 Cortlandt Street with very, very sad display windows. The store’s owner, Robert Ingersoll, was best known for his ‘dollar watches’ and, on the success of those, had branched out to include other items for sale, including a great variety of toys […]

America’s first holiday Nutcracker, before Balanchine

Ballerinas in their first flight of The Nutcracker: the Ballet Russe at the 51st Street Theater, 1940 (Picture courtesy the New York Times) Few ballet productions of the last century had more influence on American culture than George Balanchine’s 1954 edition of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, as performed by the New York City Ballet. Although not […]