Amusements and Thrills

The fire at Barnum’s American Museum 155 years ago

One hundred and fifty-five years ago (on July 13, 1865), New York City lost one of its most famous, most imaginative and most politically incorrect attractions. When P.T. Barnum opened his museum in 1841, the kooky curiosities contained within the building at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street — at the foot of Park… Read More

Museums Podcasts

The wonderful mysteries of the Guggenheim Museum, the Frank Lloyd Wright ziggurat turned on its head

It’s ancient mysteries week on the Bowery Boys! What, you ask, I thought you only did New York City history? In fact, at least two great Manhattan landmarks evoke the great mysteries of ancient times, meant to bring mystical energy and revelation to one of the world’s greatest cities. Here’s a replay of a podcast… Read More

Amusements and Thrills

Meet the Mastodon Hog, the biggest star at a 14th Street museum

Worth’s Museum of Living Curiosities, one of New York’s most popular dime museums, paired cheap ‘curios’ with vaudeville performances on the main stage.  On December 29th, 1889, the star of the show was a massive hog named I-Am. “The Biggest Porker in existence. Guess his weight. If you do you will get a prize. Every… Read More

Mrs. Bigge Trout: On the passing of Barnum’s prized fish

Trout by Currier & Ives, 1872. Sadly there are no extant images of Mrs. Trout. I could not let this week pass without mentioning a sadness that fell over lower Manhattan 150 years ago today. A lament over the number of Southern states seceding from the union? The grief of Democrats over the inauguration that… Read More


Mesmerizing: The forgotten museum of Rubens Peale

Believe it or not, this long-gone, unsuccessful attempt at a museum actually figures into the larger tale of a major New York institution, which we cover on this week’s podcast and which will be available for download by Wednesday. This is a reprinted article from May 15, 2008 with some modifications. Original is here. What… Read More

Happy Belated Birthday, P.T. Barnum!

Yesterday was Phineas Taylor Barnum‘s 200th birthday. Hopefully you did something outrageous to celebrate it. On top of renovating a railroad shed at Madison Square for one of his circuses (helping create the future Madison Square Garden), Barnum is most familiar to New Yorkers in the 19th century for his outrageous, moralistic, politically incorrect American… Read More

UNUSUAL NYC MUSEUMS #3: Teddy on 20th

Our weekly tribute to a severely off-the-beaten-path museum or landmark that you may not know about. Instead of Moma, why not try out one of these places? Past entries in this series can be found here. President residences arent what you call ‘unusual’ by any stretch of the imagination. But the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace Historic… Read More

UNUSUAL NYC MUSEUMS #2: History and waffles

In one of my entries below regarding the Mudd Club, a reader asked why I referred to Cortlandt Alley as ‘mysterious’. The tiny little alley — one of New York’s last — is between Canal and Franklin and, while partially my own projection upon it as a rough reminder of old New York, the dark… Read More

UNUSUAL NYC MUSEUMS #1: Satchmo’s Place

In the first part of our nth part series on unusual New York City museums, we turn your attention to Corona, Queens (several stations out on the 7 train) where lies a non-descript and not seemingly attractive red-brick house. It was the home of Louis Armstrong and his wife Vivian and as of 2003 has… Read More