Vitagraph Studios


Before the film industry emerged supreme in Hollywood, Vitagraph was the first Motion Picture Production Company in the United States. It was founded by J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith in 1897. They enjoyed much success. In 1906, a giant studio was built on East 14th St. and Locust Ave. in Brooklyn, NY, in the area known as Midwood.

After creating a long legacy in film and animation, the studio was sadly demolished in 2015, but the famous Smokestack with the Vitagraph Logo still stands. An online petition is in effect to make it a landmark. I believe it deserves to be. Brooklyn is fast losing its classic, gilded age identity.

Save Vitagraph History Facebook Page

Read an article about the demolition with some history of the studio:

Vitagraph Studios, An Early Pioneer of the Film Industry, Is Being Demolished in Midwood Brooklyn

Watch a short Youtube Documentary:

A Brief History of the Vitagraph Studios – A short Film from Tony Susnick

Watch a quirky Vitagraph Movie clip: The Thieving Hand


Old New York Winter Slideshow

This is my old slideshow from nearly 10 years ago. I’d felt like collecting snowy images and putting them together. The Youtube quality back then was so low, unfortunately the video is grainy. But still enjoyable with the music. The music is called “Love is blue” by Paul Muriat.

I’m trying anything to keep cool in this stuffy place with no A/C!

Here’s a one minute video of a 2 ft. New York Blizzard from 2010.

The Bowery Boys Podcasts


(Image from The Bowery Boys: New York City History website. I adore this photo of them! Hope they don’t mind that I linked it. O_O)

I love the idea of podcasts, but the reality is I never seem to find time to listen as I’d like to. But the one that has me tuning in is The Bowery Boys, a podcast all about old New York hosted by two cute guys, Greg Young and Tom Meyers. I’m a new (ish) fan, but The Bowery Boys have podcasts going back 9 years and counting!

I have a ton of catching up to do! They’re are active on Facebook – Adventures of Old New York. They’ve given online interviews, been featured in all sorts of media and make frequent appearances around New York to share their knowledge of its rich history. Once this massive heat wave is over, I’ll have to attend one.

Mr. Young and Mr. Meyers have thoughtfully created a Podcast archive for fans and history buffs. They offer various ways to listen and they are available on iTunes.

Be sure to bookmark this page!

Every Bowery Boys Podcast in Chronological order by subject

I’m happy to note they’ve released their first History Book in June 2016 available in Print and on Kindle –


I find the Bowery Boys Podcasts factual, insightful, and fun. The guys are witty and funny without being raucous or annoying. You can tell they have a deep knowledge and love for the topics they discuss. I also admire that they keep their broadcasts fairly clean and profanity free, even when discussing the most shocking scandals from back in the Golden age.

Keep it classy guys!! You’re awesome!

I enjoy how they set the stage with subtle and meaningful background music and I’m drawn into the air of mystery they create when discussing the strange tales of the past. The imagination ignites. Those are my favorite kinds of stories – missing persons, crimes, cons, and all the intrigue that Old New York has to offer.

Two juicy ones that come to mind are “The curious case of Typhoid Mary” and “The disappearance of Dorothy Arnold”

Settle down, grab a snack, do some knitting, or just lay back and close your eyes and let the Bowery Boys transport you to the past.

Coney Island (1917)

A hilarious short film starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keaton. There’s a huge love square brewing when three frisky men fight all over Coney Island for the attentions of a pretty, young strumpet. Who will get her heart?

The film is full of amazing physical stunts and pratfalls, and we’re treated to fun visuals of Coney Island’s old rides.



When Brooklyn teams played baseball on ice

I haven’t been able to give my blog the proper attention, so I’m happy to share this fun winter post about Civil War Era Brooklyn. Baseball on Ice Skates. I always loved ice skating at the Prospect Park rink, I had no idea people were skating out there 150 years ago. The images look great.

Don’t know why playing Baseball on Ice never occurred to me, but here you have it. Hockey was invented maybe 50 years earlier. I suppose Baseball fans were inspired. It actually seems like a lot of fun, but I can only imagine the bumps and bruises.

Ephemeral New York

The history of sports includes lots of nutty ideas. One of the strangest took off big in Brooklyn in the 1860s and 1870s: baseball on ice.


The game was huge in Brooklyn in the decades after the Civil War. Ice skating was trendy too. Why not combine the two into the ultimate winter activity, right?

Local papers covered the games enthusiastically. “Today a grand match at base-ball on ice will be played on the Capitoline Pond, Brooklyn, 2 pm., the contestants being the best players of the Mutual and Atlantic Clubs who are also good skaters,” wrote the New York Times in January 1871.


[Capitoline Pond (photo below) was at the Capitoline Grounds, a baseball park on Fulton Avenue]

Problems cropped up though. First, regular skaters complained that the ballplayers messed up the ice. Then there was the freezing cold.


On January 5, 1879, the New York Times

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The last remnant of a colonial Brooklyn road

Every time I find an article like this, I’m always amazed how rich with Colonial history Brooklyn really is. I’m still surprised hearing George Washington’s name and that we can claim “The Battle of Brooklyn.” I try to imagine Brooklyn before it became the mini Metropolis it is today – With businesses competing in cramped quarters alongside residential homes and buildings. (Wistfully staring out the glass doors by the parking Lot at a row of 6 attached homes.- most likely 2-family, maybe with a tenant thrown in the converted basement.
The map in the post shows just how much open space there was in 1760, vs. The painting of Red Hook in 1865, overflowing with buildings, houses, factories, bridges and then some.

Ephemeral New York

Redhooklanestreetsign2Red Hook Lane is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stretch of road off bustling Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn.

This one-block lane is the last remnant of colonial-era Red Hook Lane, a Canarsie Indian trail that became the route from the heights of Brooklyn town through Dutch farmland to the swampy Red Hook waterfront.

Enlarge this 1760s map and you can just make out “Red Hook Lane” beneath Flatbush Avenue, where it says “Brookland Parish.”


It has Revolutionary War significance too. Red Hook Lane, an important Continental Army artery, is where George Washington watched the British outflank the Patriots at Gowanus Pass during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776.

Redhooklanesouth“Old Red Hook Lane was originally 25 feet wide, and ran from Boerum Place diagonally across Atlantic Avenue, between Court Street and Boerum Place, running near the old engine house on Pacific Street,” according to an 1894 New York Times piece.

“Then, turning…

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Coney Island’s “disaster spectacles” thrill crowds

I agree with what the writer said. Our modern day fascination with disaster films is very similar to disaster recreations of the past. Though it wouldn’t have been so thrilling to get caught up in the actual Dream Land fires at Coney Island.

Ephemeral New York

ConeyislandfightingtheflamesConey Island at the turn of the century let visitors escape the conventions of city life and experience a fantastical world: of thrilling rides and exotic animals, carnival games, freak shows, Eskimo and lilliputian villages, even a trip to the moon.

But perhaps the most bizarre exhibits were the disaster spectacles.

These shows recreated a real-life disaster so visitors could witness the death and destruction that took place.

The fall of Pompeii, the San Francisco Earthquake, the eruption of Mount Pelee in Martinique, and the Johnstown and Galveston Floods exhibits were hugely popular.


“Six hundred veterans of the Boer War, fresh from Johannesburg, re-fought their battles in a 12,000-seat stadium,” stated PBS’ American Experience show about Coney Island.

“Galveston disappeared beneath the flood. Mount Pelee erupted hourly, while across the street, Mount Vesuvius showered death on the people of Pompeii.”

ConeyislandpeleeadsAnother spectacle called “Fire and Flames” had real firemen set…

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