• Summary

  • The tides of American history lead through the streets of New York City — from the huddled masses on Ellis Island to the sleazy theaters of 1970s Times Square. The elevated railroad to the Underground Railroad. Hamilton to Hammerstein! Greg and Tom explore more than 400 years of action-packed stories, featuring both classic and forgotten figures who have shaped the world.
    Bowery Boys Media
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Episodes
  • Sep 30 2022

    In honor of an exciting new theater season, we're revisiting our 2011 episode on the history of Sardi's restaurant, updated to cover the trials and triumphs of the past decade.

    The famous faces on the walls of Sardi's Restaurant represent the entertainment elite of the 20th Century, and all of them made this place on West 44th Street their unofficial home. Known for its caricatures and its Broadway opening-night traditions, Sardi's fed the stars of the golden age and became a hotspot for producers, directors and writers -- and, of course, those struggling to get their attention.

    When Vincent Sardi opened his first restaurant in 1921, Prohibition had begun, and the midtown Broadway tradition was barely a couple decades old. By the time the current place threw open its doors (thanks to the Shuberts) in 1927, Broadway's stages were red hot, and Sardi found himself at the center of New York City show business world.

    We have nuggets from the old days -- starring John Barrymore, Tallulah Bankhead, Carol Channing and a cast of thousands -- and the scoop on those famous (and often unflattering) framed caricatures. So sidle up to the Little Bar, order yourself a stiff drink and eavesdrop in on this tale of Broadway's longest dinner party.

    Support the show at Patreon.com/BoweryBoys

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    54 mins
  • Sep 16 2022

    You may have heard about the messy, chaotic and truly horrible presidential election of 1876 -- pitting Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B Hayes -- but did you know that New York City plays a huge role in this moment in American history?

    Tilden, the governor of New York, was a political superstar, a reformer famous for taking down Boss Tweed and the corrupt machinations of Tammany Hall. From his home in Gramercy Park, the extremely wealthy governor could kept himself updated on the election by a personal telegraph line.

    In a way, the presidential election came to him -- or at least to his neighborhood. The Democratic national headquarters sat only a few blocks south, while the Republican national headquarters made the Fifth Avenue Hotel (off Madison Square) its home.

    All this would have made the 1876 national election somewhat unusual already -- New York City seemed to be at the center of it -- but the strange series of events spawned by a most contentious Election Day would send the entire country into pandemonium.

    Not only was democracy itself on the line, but the fate of Reconstruction was also at stake. As were the rights of thousands of Black Southerners.

    How did shadowy events which occurred at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in the early morning hours of November 8, 1876, change the course of American history? How did a flurry of telegrams and months of political chicanery cause an end to the country's post-Civil War ambitions?

    FEATURING: A visit to Tilden's mansion on Gramercy Park, now the home of the National Arts Club!

    PLUS: How was Daniel Sickles involved here?

     

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    1 hr and 21 mins
  • Sep 2 2022

    In the heart of Greenwich Village sits the Jefferson Market Library, a branch of the New York Public Library, and a beautiful garden which offers a relaxing respite from the busy neighborhood.

    But a prison once rose from this very spot -- more than one in fact. While there was indeed a market at Jefferson Market -- dating back to the 1830s -- this space is more notoriously known for America's first night court (at the Jefferson Market Courthouse, site of today's library) and the Women's House of Detention, a facility which cast a gloom over the Village for over 40 years.

    Almost immediately after the original courthouse (designed by Frederick Clarke Withers and Calvert Vaux) opened in 1877, it was quickly overburdened with people arrested in the Tenderloin district. By 1910 a women's court opened here, and by the Jazz Age, the adjacent confinement was known as "the women's jail.”

    When the Women's House of Detention opened in 1931 -- sometimes referred to as the world's only Art Deco prison -- it was meant to improve the conditions for women who were held there. But the dank and inadequate containment soon became symbol of abuse and injustice.

    In this special episode -- recorded live at Caveat on the Lower East Side -- Tom and Greg are joined by Hugh Ryan, author of The Women's House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison to explore the detention center's place in both New York City history and LGBT history.

    How did the "House of D" figure into the Stonewall Uprising of 1969? And what were the disturbing circumstances surrounding its eventual closure?

    FEATURING: Stories of Mae West, Stanford White, Alva Belmont, Mayor Jimmy Walker, Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin and -- Tupac Shakur?

    Visit our website for images of the things we spoke about in this week's show.

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    1 hr and 16 mins

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Excellent podcast!

As you listen to them and their corny puns, you'll barely believe those two clowns could put together a decent podcast, but they've done it! Sure, it helps that their canvas is New York City history - reducing the chances that even THEY could screw it up ; but they do an excellent - and even original and unconventional - job at it....somehow. Even when podcasting through cold viruses, they manage to stay convivial and original. Well worth a listen.

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