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It's Showtime Podcasts

The Broadway Musical: A trip through NYC’s musical history, from HMS Pinafore to Show Boat, along its most famous street

The comely ladies of ‘The Black Crook’. The show originally debuted at Niblo’s Garden, although I believe the photo above is from a later revival. (NYPL)The Broadway Musical is one of New York City’s greatest inventions, 150 years in the making! It’s one of the truly American art forms, fueling one of the city’s most […]

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Amusements and Thrills

Charles Kellogg, the man who put out fires with his voice

New York has seen its share of bizarre entertainments, especially back in the days of vaudeville, when people would pay for almost anything that amused or titillated.  A few months ago, I wrote about the novelty star Don the Talking Dog, who allegedly spoke a handful of English and German words. But another vocally talented […]

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Amusements and Thrills

Don the Talking Dog, German vaudeville sensation, saves a drowning man in Brighton Beach

There once was a talking dog named Don. One hundred years ago today, he saved a man from drowning in Brighton Beach.  Don shouted or barked the word ‘Help!’ then ran to the waters to save him. But perhaps I should explain. In December 1910, the New York Times ran a startling announcement that a dog […]

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Pop Culture

A film milestone in New York, 1913, but sadly out of sync

 The future (almost): Edison’s kinetophone system On February 17, 1913, on the day that the Armory Show was preparing to reinvent American art, Thomas Edison was attempting a revolution of his own for the young moving pictures industry. On that date, he debuted a new projection system called the kinetophone in four vaudeville houses in New […]

Rainey’s African Hunt: A bloody 1912 movie blockbuster

Hunter and gadabout Paul Rainey: An accidental matinee idol Catching a movie this weekend? Many New Yorkers had the same plan one hundred years ago, but the experience was vastly different.  Motion pictures in 1912 were shorter, without sound and in black-and-white, of course, but they were sometimes presented as part of a set of […]

Jimian? The strange affair of Lillian and Diamond Jim

Had there been a paparazzi in the 1880s, the woman they would have hounded the most would be New York stage singer and actress Lillian Russell. Like a Scarlett, she was always hanging on the arm of a famous, powerful man. Like an Angelina, she did dramatic things in her personal life that often upstaged […]

The REAL story behind those confusing numbers

Some architectural monstrosities just beg to be ripped upon. Topping this list is One Union Square South, a bland 33-story structure and pioneer in the mall-ification of Union Square. Although its storefronts feature a Circuit City and a dying Virgin Mega-store, One Union Square South is defined by a piece of public art that has […]

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 […]