The Bowery Boys Podcasts

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(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 –

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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’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.

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“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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NYC railroads the unearthing of an 1830’s Train!

2 years ago I posted a Daily News Article about an urban legend in Brooklyn. A rare 1830’s locomotive was believed hidden behind a wall in the abandoned Atlantic Avenue Tunnel. Turns out the legend was true, but unfortunately, it will have to remain buried in the past.

Read the full article here: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/train-excavation-brooklyn-stopped-due-politics-leaks-article-1.2159106

A ditty about the Brooklyn Theater Fire

When I posted my Green Wood Cemetery photos a few months back I expressed interest in writing about the tragic Brooklyn Theater Fire which claimed the lives of over 300 theatergoers and actors on December 5th, 1876. As I researched, I realized there are many blogs online with mounds of information on the event. Popular Brooklyn blog site Brownstowner.com posted a fascinating 2 part article with an inside-out history of the theater and what occurred that tragic night. It also includes 2 slideshows of images.

Read both parts here:

Walkabout: The Brooklyn Theater Fire (Part 1)

Walkabout: The Brooklyn Theater Fire (Part 2)

We can always count on the arts to provide us with a colorful, or in this case, musical, backdrop of the era and event. After a little digging I came up with this!

Folk Song

Listen to a quick midi version of the Tune

The Brooklyn Theater Fire Lyrics

In the evening bright stars they were shining,
And the moon it shone clear on the land.
Our city in peace and in quiet;
The hour of midnight at hand.

Hark, do you hear the cry, “Fire”?
How dismal the bells they do sound.
The Brooklyn Theater is burning,
It’s fast burning down to the ground.

We never can forget those two orphans.
Bad luck seemed to stand in their way.
It seems they were brought to our city,
The lives of our dear friends to take.

The doors they were open at seven.
The curtains were rolled up at eight.
And those that had seats, they were happy.
Outsiders were mad they were late.

The play it went on very smoothly
‘Til sparks from the curtain did fly
It was then the women and chlldren,
“Oh God, save our lives,” they did cry.

Next morning among the black ruins,
Oh God, what a sight met our eyes!
The dead they were lying in heaps
And some could not be recognized.

Mothers were weeping and crying
For sons who were out on that night.
Oh God, may their souls rest in heaven,
All those who were innocent and bright.

What means this large gathering of people
Upon such a cold winter day?
What means this long line of hearses
That gather in their mournful array?

It’s away to the cemetery of Greenwood
Where the winds of the cold winter blow
It’s there where the funeral is going
The dead and unknown for to lie.

From Folk Songs Out of Wisconson, Peters
Collected from Lester Coffee, Harvard, IL, 1946.

Green-Wood Cemetery~The City of the Dead

Green-Wood Cemetery was first established in 1838 and it was the 3rd rural or Garden variety cemetery in the United States. A brief history of pre-Victorian cemeteries will show that your average Church yard burial ground was every bit as frightening as they appear in those old, scary Frankenstein movies.

Lumpy-bumpy tombstones from over-piled graves, creaking iron gates, and weather permitting, haunting mist all around. Then there were the rats and bug infestations. Noxious and sometimes deadly odors emanated from within due to exposed body parts and skeletons being forced to the surface. It was also unfortunate that these graveyards were often in residential areas, and outbreaks of cholera and other diseases from polluted water were common.

Garden cemeteries were a blessing for the public as the cities expanded and more land opened up. Bodies were interred there by the thousands and beautiful new headstones were erected.

*If you’re dark-humored and preferably not squeamish, then you will love the hilarious and fascinating E-Book, ‘The Smart Aleck’s Guide to Grave-Robbing’ by Adam Selzer and the Smart Aleck staff.

In it you’ll find everything you need to know about the illustrious occupation of 19th century grave-robbing–What does it take to be a ‘Resurrection man’ and sneak off into the dead of night to steal corpses for Medical research? This book has the pros and cons, the tools and tricks of the trade, and the history of cemeteries, coffins, and mummy un-wrapping parties. (And you thought your parties were wild!) And because they are smart-alecks, it comes complete with quizzes, assignments, and experiments that you hopefully DON’T try at home. For information on the talented Adam Selzer and his books, visit one of his websites.

Green-Wood cemetery is filled with lavish monuments and carvings. Down to this day it boasts luscious, flowering trees and bushes, freshly manicured lawns, benches, and even a gorgeous fountain area to rest your tired feet after taking one of the 2 Self-guided walking tours.

These forty-five page booklets are a wonderful collection for any Brooklyn enthusiast’s library. Even if you don’t make the tours you can still see many pictures of the graves and read brief biographies and histories of all the famous (and infamous) people buried in Green-Wood. Visit the website for complete information on everything Green-Wood has to offer to the public.

The Green-Wood Cemetery Walk #1 & 2

I had the opportunity to visit back in October–I highly recommended that you:

1. Wear loose clothing that you don’t mind getting dust or grass-stains on. Dress in layers. Even if it’s chilly, you will get very hot on your trek. Green–Wood is very hilly and you’ll find yourself climbing up and down, and getting up close to the tombs. I kept peering into the mausoleums even though I knew exactly what I was going to find each time–an empty, musty-smelling room with the actual tombs embedded into engraved stone walls. Seriously, what did I expect?

In some cases, you might need to lean on headstones to help you scale the hills. I couldn’t help it! Beware of going to the cemetery after a rainy day. There is a very real danger of slipping and falling and almost killing yourself if you hit your head on marble or granite.

2. Wear sturdy boots or sneakers and comfortable socks.

3. Keep a copy of the free map they offer at the Cemetery entrance and use it from time to time. If you are a newbie to the tour like I was, chances are you WILL get lost. Don’t go without those books. It helps to know the history and livens the tour.

4. Plan to spend a good 2 to 4 hours of your day inside the cemetery. Bring snacks or a light lunch and carry bottled water! That is a must, especially in warmer weather. Otherwise, you’ll end the day looking as though you belong buried there as you stumble around dehydrated and over-heated. (Just don’t litter the place!)

My sister and I were so lost that it was near closing time and the guard had to come around and take us back to where we started. This was an hour after he’d also taken us halfway across the cemetery to find our family’s plot, which has 4 generations buried there.

5. Make sure to use the restrooms before you start, especially if you are a water guzzler. Because once you begin the tour there are no bathrooms along the way. And guys, don’t even think about it–that’s somebody’s family member down there.

6. If in a group, keep the noise at a minimum, not because you’ll wake the dead, but because there are still funeral services going on all day-except Sundays. The website and booklets say up to 5, and it would be highly disrespectful to interrupt.

My sister had the better camera and she took some wonderful images that I’d like to share below.

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The Victorian Egyptian

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The Fountain

Gargoyles

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Fist bumping carved angel

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