The Bowery Boys: New York City HistoryAuthor: Bowery Boys Media
22 Feb 2019

The Bowery Boys: New York City History

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New York City history is America's history. It's the hometown of the world, and most people know the city's familiar landmarks, buildings and streets. Why not look a little closer and have fun while doing it?

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    #283 Walt Whitman in New York and Brooklyn

    A very special episode of the Bowery Boys podcast, recorded live at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn, celebrating the legacy of Walt Whitman, a writer with deep ties to New York City.

    On May 31, 2019, the world will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Whitman, a journalist who revolutionized American literature with his long-crafted work “Leaves of Grass.” The 19th-century cities of New York and Brooklyn helped shape the man Whitman would become, from its bustling newspaper offices to bohemian haunts like Pfaff’s Beer Cellar.

    To help us tell this story, Greg and Tom are joined by guests from the worlds of academia, literature and preservation:

    Karen Karbiener, NYU professor and head of the Walt Whitman Initiative, an international collective bringing together all people interested in the life and work of Walt Whitman

    Jason Koo, award-winning poet and founder and executive director of Brooklyn Poets, celebrating and cultivating the literary heritage of Brooklyn, the birthplace of American poetry

    Brad Vogel, executive director at the New York Preservation Archive Project and board member of the Walt Whitman Initiative, leading the drive to protect New York City-based Whitman landmark.

    Recorded as part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival presented by Pandora.

  • Posted on 08 Feb 2019

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    #282 Taxi Driver (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

    Welcome to the Bowery Boys Movie Club, a new podcast exclusively for our Patreon supporters where Tom and Greg discuss classic New York City films from an historical perspective. As we are currently prepare the newest episode for our patrons, we thought we'd give our regular listeners a taste of the very first episode (which was released back in September).

    In the Bowery Boys Movie Club, we'll be revisiting some true cinematic classics and sprinkling our recaps with trivia, local details and personal insight -- and lots of spoilers of course.

    In this inaugural episode, the Bowery Boys take a trip to Times Square in the 1970s (not to mention Columbus Circle, the East Village and even Cadman Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn) in Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Taxi Driver.

    How does the director use New York’s unique geography to tell his story and categorize his three main characters? What does this film have to say about New York City in the 1970s? And how much has the city changed since Robert De NiroCybill Shepherd, and Jodie Foster starred in this grim, noir-ish thriller?

    FEATURING: Diners, cafeterias, porn theaters and old elevated highways!

  • Posted on 01 Feb 2019

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    #281 The Treasures of Downtown Brooklyn

    Downtown Brooklyn has a history that is often overlooked by New Yorkers. You'd be forgiven if you thought Brooklyn's civic center -- with a bustling shopping district and even an industrial tech campus -- seemed to lack significant remnants of Brooklyn's past; many areas have been radically altered and hundreds of old structures have been cleared over the decades.

    But, in fact, Downtown Brooklyn is one of the few areas to still hold evidence of the borough's glorious past -- its days as an independent city and one of the largest urban centers in 19th century America. 

    Around Brooklyn City Hall (now Borough Hall) swirled all aspects of Brooklyn's Gilded Age society. With the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge and a network of elevated railroad lines, Downtown Brooklyn became a major destination with premier department stores on Fulton Street, entertainment venues like the Brooklyn Academy of Music and exclusive restaurants like Gage & Tollners.

    The 20th century brought a new designation for Brooklyn -- a borough of Greater New York -- and a series of major developments that attempted to modernize the district -- from the creation of Cadman Plaza to New York's very first "tech hub". In 2004 a major zoning change brought a new addition to the multi-purpose neighborhood -- high-end residential towers. What will the future hold for the original heart of the City of Brooklyn?

  • Posted on 25 Jan 2019

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    #280 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, is 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 themselves off so completely in the way that Homer and Langley Collyer attempted in the 1930s and 1940s. Their story is infamous. In going several steps further to be left alone, they in effect drew attention to themselves and to their crumbling Fifth Avenue mansion – dubbed by the press ‘the Harlem house of mystery’.

    They were the children of the Gilded Age, clinging to blue-blooded lineage and drawing-room social customs, in a neighborhood that was about to become the heart of African-American culture. But their unusual retreat inward -- off the grid, hidden from view -- suggested something more troubling than fear and isolation. And in the end, their house consumed them.

  • Posted on 11 Jan 2019

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    #279 A New Year in Old New York: From Times Square to Chinatown

    The ultimate history of New Year's celebrations in New York City!

    This is the story of the many ways in which New Yorkers have ushered in the coming year, a moment of rebirth, reconciliation, reverence and jubilation.

    In a mix of the old and new, we present a history of world's most famous December 31st party, paired with a short history of New York's other transitional celebration -- Chinatown's traditional (and occasionally non-traditional) Chinese New Year parade.

    Why did Times Square become the focal point for the world's reflection on a new calendar year? And how did Times Square's many changes in the 20th century influence those celebrations? Featuring Dick Clark, Guy Lombardo -- and Daisy Duke.

    THEN: Greg brings you the story of the Chinese New Year which has been celebrated in Manhattan's Chinatown since before there was even a Times Square!

  • Posted on 27 Dec 2018


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