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Brooklyn History Podcasts

Crossing to Brooklyn: How the Williamsburg Bridge Changed New York City

PODCAST The story of the Williamsburg Bridge — poorly received when it was built but vital to the health of New York City Sure, the Brooklyn Bridge gets all the praise, but the city’s second bridge of the East River has an exceptional story of its own. In this episode, we’ll answer some interesting questions, including: […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Brooklyn History

The New Brooklyn: The ups and downs of a very frenetic borough

The subtitle to Kay S. Hymowitz‘s engaging and often provocative new book The New Brooklyn: What It Takes To Bring A City Back is a bit of a misnomer. Brooklyn is not back in any conventional sense of the word. It has not returned to any kind of sense of normalcy or financial stability. In fact, Brooklyn has […]

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Brooklyn History

Podcast Rewind: Williamsburg(h) where did you go?

PODCAST Williamsburg used to have an H at the end of its name, not to mention dozens of major industries that once made it the tenth wealthiest place in the world. How did Williamsburgh become a haven for New York’s most well-known factories and then become Williamsburg, home to such wildly diverse communities — Hispanic, […]

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Brooklyn History

Ungentrified: Brooklyn in the 1970s

The new Bowery Boys podcast that comes out this Friday will be about Brooklyn. So let’s get in the mood with some pre-Instagram tinted photography from the U.S. National Archives, most of them taken in 1974 by Danny Lyon. followed by some black and white images by Edmund V Gillon. You might have seen many of […]

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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 […]

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Holidays

Happy Rosh Hashanah! Images of Jewish New Years’ past

Look to the stars children! A vintage Rosh Hashanah card manufactured by the Williamsburg Art Company in the 1920s. Rosh Hashanah is here — the first of Tishrei, year 5775.  Presented here are a selection of photographs from the Library of Congress depicting Jewish New Yorkers celebrating the new year (or, at least, on their […]

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Those Were The Days

Where did New Yorkers first buy recorded music?

“Photograph shows a boy and a girl dancing while an Edison Home Phonograph plays in a house in Broad Channel, Queens, New York City.” — taken between 1910-1915 Here’s something many people thought they’d never see again in New York City — the opening of a new record store.  Rough Trade, known for their famous […]

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Those Were The Days

Sugar high: Yonkers boys, up to no good

A band of junior ruffians, gathered around the detritus of a sugar plant in Yonkers, on the Hudson River, c. 1906. I can’t quite make out what they’re doing, and I possibly don’t wanna know. This is very possibly an old plant located in same area as the present corporate headquarters of American Sugar Refining, just […]

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Brooklyn History

Holidays on Ice 1861: Skaters flock to Brooklyn’s icy ponds

Williamsburg(h)’s Union Pond, one of the finest destinations for ice skating in the city, 1863. It later became America’s first enclosed baseball field. The nation was at war one hundred and fifty years ago, but that didn’t stop the austere celebrations in the ‘borough of churches’. But while thousands of Brooklyn residents attended church that […]

The other Draft Riots: Brooklyn infernos, Queens bonfires

You probably know something about the Civil War draft riots that kept New York paralyzed during the week of July 13, 1863. But New York only meant Manhattan back then. What about the rest of the future boroughs? The conscription act initiated draft lotteries throughout the area as, by 1863, the Union struggled to fill […]

Patrick Henry McCarren: how a politican became a pool

Patrick Henry McCarren — best known today for leaving his last name to a park and a swimming pool — was a complicated figure, so it makes sense he should be considered a sort of godfather to a rather complicated neighborhood like Williamsburg. McCarren became the voice of Greenpoint and Williamsburg at a pivotal time […]

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Podcasts

PODCAST: Williamsburg(h), Brooklyn

Williamsburg used to have an H at the end of its name, not to mention dozens of major industries that once made it the tenth wealthiest place in the world. How did Williamsburgh become a haven for New York’s most well-known factories and then become Williamsburg, home to such wildly diverse communities — Hispanic, Hasidic […]

Winter fashion for the Williamsburg hipster

One ingenious Brooklyn inventor came up with this rather fashion-forward way of beating the cold weather, in an article which ran in a 1876 issue of Scientific American magazine. This “patented…neck, ear, and throat protector” will keep those extremities toasty while allowing “free use of a hat or cap.” Oh, to have seen an actual […]

Where are you, George Post?

Who knew a produce exchange could look so elegant? One of New York’s most important architects was George B. Post, but you would barely know it today. Only a handful of his most important buildings — the New York Stock Exchange being the most famous — still stand, the victim of a rapidly changing city […]

Union Grounds: Baseball history in Williamsburg

Above: Quite a fancy looking team of baseball players! Note the pavilion in the background. Picture courtesy Brooklyn Ball Parks I love finding out where very basic, everyday, take-for-granted concepts were invented. For instance, there is some place on the planet I’m sure that heralds as the first place somebody put a straw in a […]