Categories
Wartime New York

Nazis In New York: Watch the Oscar-nominated documentary short “A Night At The Garden”

Events such as these used to be unthinkable, anomalies of history that once played like speculative fiction. But this really did happen. Eighty years ago this month — on February 20, 1939 — over 20,000 members of the German American Bund, a pro-Nazi organization, gathered at Madison Square Garden (at its Hell’s Kitchen location on Eighth Avenue) to unite the philosophies of […]

Categories
Mysterious Stories Podcasts

House of Mystery: The Story of the Collyer Brothers

You better clean your room or you’ll end up like the Collyer Brothers. New York City, a city crammed of 8.6 million people. It’s filled with stories of people who just want to be left alone – recluses, hermits, cloistering themselves from the public eye, closing themselves off from scrutiny. But none attempted to seal […]

Categories
True Crime

Frank Serpico: A new documentary revisits the making of a hero (and a myth)

Frank Serpico is a member of an elite group of important American figures (along with Erin Brockovich and Karen Silkwood) that are almost entirely defined by the actors who played them in movies. Even if you lived in New York City in the early 1970s and remember Serpico from the headlines, most likely you picture […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The New York Riots of 1964: Violent history with a haunting familiarity

One hot summer’s morning, in the neighborhood of Yorkville on the Upper East Side, high school student James Powell was shot and killed by police officer James Gilligan. Powell either attempted to stab the officer or else the unarmed boy was brutally set upon by a man with violent tendencies. Gilligan, a war veteran, was either […]

Categories
True Crime

Terror on Sunday: The failed plot to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral

On the afternoon of October 13, 1914, a bomb exploded in the northwest corner of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, sending deadly iron shrapnel flying through the room. A stained glass window was shattered and an 18-inch hole (shown in the picture below) was blown into the floor.  While the pews were partially filled with worshipers, there was only a […]

Categories
Gangs of New York

The 1867 St Patrick’s Day riot: No peace in the Lower East Side

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper reported on a ‘riot’ which occurred on Saint Patrick’s Day 1867 at the intersections of East Broadway, Grand and Pitt Streets, one block below Delancey Street and the Williamsburg Bridge (which was decades from being built by that date). The parade began on East Broadway, with regiments assembling here (“slush and snowdrifts […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The Alienist by Caleb Carr, released 20 years ago this week: Retracing the steps of this Gilded Age murder mystery

NOTE: This article has a few plot spoilers but no major twists are revealed or discussed.  I’ve tried to write the descriptions within the interactive map as vaguely as possible. The Alienist by Caleb Carr was published 20 years ago this week, an instant best-seller in 1994 that has become a cult classic among history […]

Categories
Those Were The Days

Cat-astrophe! Hungry felines attack a Lower East Side butcher

Presented without commentary, from the front page of  the New York Sun, January 24, 1914: “Policeman James Kenny, trudging along James Street at 10 o’clock last night, heard horrendous sounds coming from the market of Brighton Beef Company at No. 72.  A hundred drunken burglars couldn’t have made more noise. Kenny, remembering that a bomb […]

Theodore Roosevelt and the Case of the Master Mind! Is it the Black Hand or something even stranger?

Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, in a rare shot with his pince-nez lowered. Checking the mailbox was a frightening experience for some New Yorkers almost a century ago. Some found extortion notes — threatening letters, demanding large sums of money or else — courtesy Italian gangsters collectively referred to in the press as The Black Hand. […]

Theodore Roosevelt and the Case of the Master Mind! Is it the Black Hand or something even stranger?

Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, in a rare shot with his pince-nez lowered. Checking the mailbox was a frightening experience for some New Yorkers almost a century ago. Some found extortion notes — threatening letters, demanding large sums of money or else — courtesy Italian gangsters collectively referred to in the press as The Black Hand. […]

The legend of bank robber ‘Red’ Leary, his wife Kate, and the greatest jail break in Lower East Side history

 ‘Red’ Leary was one of the famous bank robbers of the 1870s, assisting in heists all along the Northeast. Above is an illustration of a bank robbery in Montreal, Canada, displaying some of the tools found at the crime scene. They don’t talk about ‘Red’ Leary anymore down in the streets of the Lower East […]

Categories
Amusements and Thrills

Commodore Nutt: Barnum’s dwarf star, NYC police officer

The attentions of most New Yorkers 150 years ago today were understandably occupied by the events of the Civil War. The general mood in April 1862 had turned cynical and grim. It had been one year since the first battle at Fort Sumter. The bloodiest skirmish yet, the Battle of Shiloh in northwestern Tennessee, left […]

Categories
Those Were The Days

Crazy Sober: Hatchet lady Carrie Nation vs. New York City

I enjoyed the first part of the Ken Burns and Lynn Novak documentary series ‘Prohibition’ which debuted last night. But let’s be honest, the second part — introducing the Roaring 20s and the godfathers of organized crime — should be far more provocative. After all, morally righteous reformers did what they believed was right for […]

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 […]

First officer down: Highbinder riots at St Peter’s Church

Broadway and City Hall, in 1809. The mobs of the so-called ‘Augustus Street Riot’ would have scuffled just to the west of this illustration. (Courtesy NYPL) According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, there have been 778 New York law enforcement officers who have died in the course of duty. Fourteen of the last fifteen […]