378 episodes

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. 

The Bowery Boys: New York City History Bowery Boys Media

    • History
    • 4.7 • 2.7K Ratings

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. 

    #362 Gatsby and the Mansions of the Gold Coast

    #362 Gatsby and the Mansions of the Gold Coast

    The first part of our new mini-series Road Trip to Long Island featuring tales of historic sites outside of New York City. 

    Many of you are quite familiar with Long Island; you might have grown up there or you may be a frequent visitor to its most famous recreational sites -- The Hamptons, Fire Island or Long Island wine country. 

    But the world is perhaps most familiar with Long Island thanks to the 1925 classic novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a tale of romantic yearning and social status during the Jazz Age -- set specifically in the year 1922, in the grand and opulent manor of its mysterious anti-hero Jay Gatsby. 

    A house so large and so full of luxury that it doesn't seem like it could even be real. 

    And yet hundreds of these types of mansions dotted the landscape of Long Island in the early 20th century, particular along the north shore. This area was known as the Gold Coast.

    In this episode, we present the origin of the Gold Coast and stories from its most prominent (and unusual) mega-mansions. Lifestyle of the (very old) rich and famous!

    PLUS: A road trip to Planting Fields Arboretum, the lavish grounds of the old W.R. Coe estate. Hidden rooms, bizarre murals and curious gardens!

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    • 1 hr
    #361 Landmarks of Coney Island (Extended Funhouse Mix)

    #361 Landmarks of Coney Island (Extended Funhouse Mix)

    Coney Island is back! After being closed for 2020 due to the pandemic, the unusual attractions, the thrilling rides and the stands selling delicious beer and hot dogs have finally reopened.

    So we are releasing this very special version of our 2018 show called Landmarks of Coney Island — special, because this is an extended version of that show featuring the tales of two more Coney Island landmarks which were left out of the original show.

    The Coney Island Boardwalk — officially the Riegelmann Boardwalk — became an official New York City scenic landmark in 2018, and to celebrate, we are headed to Brooklyn’s amusement capital to toast its most famous and long-lasting icons.

    Recorded live on location, this week’s show features the backstories of these Coney Island classics:

    — The Wonder Wheel, the graceful, eccentric Ferris wheel preparing to celebrate for its 100th year of operation;

    — The Spook-o-Rama, a dark ride full of old-school thrills;

    — The Cyclone, perhaps America’s most famous roller-coaster with a history that harkens back to Coney Island’s wild coaster craze;

    — Nathan’s Famous, the king of hot dogs which has fed millions from the same corner for over a century;

    — Coney Island Terminal, a critical transportation hub that ushered in the amusement area’s famous nickname — the Nickel Empire

    PLUS: An interview with Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island and founder of Coney Island USA, who recounts the origin of the Mermaid Parade and the Sideshow by the Seashore.

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    • 1 hr
    #360 The Botanical Gardens of New York City

    #360 The Botanical Gardens of New York City

    Nature and history intertwine in all five boroughs -- from The Bronx River to the shores of Staten Island -- in this special episode about New York City's many botanical gardens.

    A botanical garden is more than just a pretty place; it's a collection of plant life for the purposes of preservation, education and study. But in an urban environment like New York City, botanical gardens also must engage with modern life, becoming both a park and natural history museum.

    The New York Botanical Garden, established in 1891, became a sort of Gilded Age trophy room for exotic trees, plants and flowers, astride the natural features of The Bronx (and an old tobacco mill).

    When the Brooklyn Botanic Garden opened next to the Brooklyn Museum in 1911, its delights included an extraordinary Japanese garden by Takeo Shiota, one of the first of its kind in the United States.

    The World's Fair of 1939-40 also brought an international flavor to New York City, and one of its more peculiar exhibitions -- called Gardens on Parade -- stuck around in the form of the Queens Botanical Garden.

    PLUS: Gardens help save New York City landmarks -- from an historic estate overlooking the Hudson River to a stately collection of architecture from the early 19th century in Staten Island.

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    • 59 min
    #359 The Magic of the Movie Theater

    #359 The Magic of the Movie Theater

    In celebration of 125 years of movie exhibition in New York City -- from vaudeville houses to movie palaces, from arthouses to multiplexes.

    In the spring of 1896 an invention called the Vitascope projected moving images onto a screen at a midtown vaudeville theater. The business of movies was born.

    By the late 1910s, the movies were big ... and the theaters were getting bigger! Thanks to creators like architect Thomas Lamb and impresario Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel, theaters in Times Square, New York's prime entertainment district, grew larger and more opulent. 

    Even by the 1940s, movie theaters were a mix of film and live acts -- singers, dancers, animal acrobats and even the drama of a Wurlitzer organ.

    But a major court case brought a change to American film exhibition and diversity to the screen -- both low brow (grind house) and high brow (foreign films and 'art' movies).

    Today's greatest arthouse cinemas trace their lineage back to the late 1960s/early 1970s and the new conception of movies as an art form. 

    Can these theaters survive the perennial villain of the movies (i.e. television) AND the current challenges of a pandemic?

    FEATURING: The origin story of all your favorite New York City movie theaters.

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    • 1 hr 3 min
    #358 The Muppets Take Manhattan (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

    #358 The Muppets Take Manhattan (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

    TOGETHER AGAIN! In 1984, Jim Henson brought his world-famous Muppets to New York for a wacky musical comedy that satirized the gritty, jaded environment of 1980s Manhattan while providing fascinating views of some of its most glamorous landmarks.

    On this springtime episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, listen in as Greg and Tom recap the story and explore the many real New York City settings of the film — from the Empire State Building and Central Park to the corner booth at Sardi’s Restaurant and certain luncheonette in the area of today’s Hudson Square. 

    The Muppets Take Manhattan expresses an unfiltered enthusiasm for the promise of New York City at a time when national headlines were filled with tales of the city’s high crime and budget problems.

    Can Kermit and Miss Piggy (and their roster of guest stars like Art Carney and Joan Rivers) bring magic back to the Big Apple?

    To get BRAND NEW episodes of the Bowery Boys Movie Club, support the Bowery Boys Podcast on Patreon.

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    • 56 min
    #357 Edith Wharton's New York

    #357 Edith Wharton's New York

    New York's upper class families of the late 19th century lived lives of old-money pursuits and rigid, self-maintained social restrictions -- from the opera boxes to the carriages, from the well-appointed parlors to the table settings. It was leisure without relaxation. 

    In this episode we examine the story of Edith Wharton -- the acclaimed American novelist who was born in New York City and raised inside this very Gilded Age social world that she would bring to life in her prose.

    She was a true "insider" of New York's wealthy class -- giving the reader an honest look at what it was like to live in the mansions of Fifth Avenue, to attend an elite dinner soiree featuring tableaux vivants and to carry forth an exhausting agenda of travels to Hudson River estates, grand Newport manors and gardened European villas.

    We can read her works today and enjoy them simply as wonderful fiction -- and incredible character studies -- but as lovers of New York City history, we can also read her New York-based works for these recreations of another era.

    Is it possible to glimpse a bit of Edith Wharton's New York in the modern city today?

    Tom and Greg are joined by Wharton lecturer and tour guide Carl Raymond, a historian who has traced her footsteps many times on the streets of New York (and through the halls of her country home The Mount in Lenox, MA.)

    Also: Join us on April 13, 2013 for a virtual celebration of Gilded Age dining, hosted by Carl, Greg and Tom.

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    • 1 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
2.7K Ratings

2.7K Ratings

mindygdjshxj ,

A treat for the senses!

Thank you Greg and Tom! I just finished listening to episode “Gatsby and the Mansions of the Gold Coast.” Your masterful descriptions of the areas hay days, and tour through WR Coe estate transported me from my suburban home in California to the Gold Coast of the early 20th century. This is very much appreciated as we have yet to travel very far from our homes in the last year. Your attention to detail and history surrounding the subject is so well crafted into the podcast. I felt we could have stepped right off of the pages of Gatsby itself. Thank you for what you do!

marketpop ,

Midnight Cowboy

Great overview of a great classic! 👌🏽

KayNYC ,

Love this show!

And so does my eleven-year old who has learned so much about his city with these guys!

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