#40: Union Square
Join the Bowery Boys as we dig into the history of Union Square.
8/22/2014 | Download File (57.54 MB) - right click to download
Rudolph Valentino was an star from the early years of Hollywood, but his elegant, randy years in New York City should not be forgotten. They helped make him a premier dancer and a glamorous actor. And on August 23, 1926, this is where the silent film icon died. Valentino arrived in Ellis Island in 1913, one of millions of Italians heading to America to begin a new life. In his case, he was escaping a restless life in Italy and a set of mounting debts! But he quickly distinguished himself in New York thanks to his job as a taxi dancer at the glamorous club Maxim's, where he mingled with wealthy society women. He headed to Hollywood and became a huge film star in 1921, thanks to the film The Sheik, which set his reputation as the connsumate Latin Lover. Throughout his career, he returned to New York to make features (in particular, those as his Astoria movie studio), and he once even judged a very curious beauty pageant here. In 1926, he headed here not only to promote a sequel to The Sheik, but to display his masculinity after a scathing article blamed him for the effeminacy of the American male! Sadly, however, he tragically and suddenly (and, some would say, mysteriously) died at a Midtown hospital. People were so shocked by his demise that the funeral chapel (in the area of today's Lincoln Center) was mobbed for almost a week, its windows smashed and the streets paralyzed by mourners -- or where those people paid by the film studio? ALSO: We are proud to introduce to you -- POLA!
8/7/2014 | Download File (30.91 MB) - right click to download
One World Trade Center was declared last year the tallest building in America, but it's a very different structure from the other skyscrapers who have once held that title. In New York, owning the tallest building has often been like possessing a valuable trophy, a symbol of commercial and social superiority. In a city driven by commerce, size matters. In this special show, I give you a rundown of the history of being tall in New York City, short profiles of the 12 structures (11 skyscrapers and one church!) that have held this title. In several cases, these weren't just the tallest buildings in the city; they were the tallest in the world. Skyscrapers were not always well received. New York's tallest building in 1899 was derisively referred to as a "horned monster." Lower Manhattan became defined by this particular kind of structure, creating a canyon of claustrophobic, darkened streets. But a new destination for these sorts of spectacular towers beckoned in the 1920s -- 42nd Street. You'll be familiar with a great number of these -- the Woolworth, the Chrysler, the Empire State. But in the early days of skyscrapers, an odd assortment of buildings took the crown as New York's tallest, from the vanity project of a newspaper publisher to a turtle-like tower made for a sewing machine company. At stake in the race for the tallest is dominance in the New York City skyline. With brand new towers popping up now all over the five boroughs, should be worried that they'll overshadow the classics? Or should the skyline always be in a constant state of flux? ALSO: New York's very first tall buildings and the ominous purpose they were used for during the Revolutionary War! PICTURES, SOURCES and RECOMMENDED READING will be available at boweryboyspodcast.com CORRECTION: Ack, I keep saying Crystal Palace Exposition when it's actually Crystal Palace Exhibition! I mean, they basically mean the same thing, almost, right? THIS EPISODE OF THE BOWERY BOYS IS SPONSORED BY AUDIBLE, the premier provider of digital audiobooks. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial atwww.audibletrial.com/boweryboys. Over 150,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player Audible titles play on iPhone, Kindle, Android and more than 500 devices for listening anytime, anywhere.
7/11/2014 | Download File (34.18 MB) - right click to download
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met at a clearing in Weehawken, NJ, in the early morning on July 11, 1804, to mount the most famous duel in American history. But why? This is the story of two New York lawyers -- and two Founding Fathers -- that so detested each other that their vitriolic words (well, mostly Hamilton's) led to these two grown men shooting each other out of honor and dignity, while robbing America of their brilliance, leadership and talent. You may know the story of this duel from history class, but this podcast focuses on its proximity to New York City, to their homes Richmond Hill and Hamilton Grange and to the places they conducted their legal practices and political machinations. Which side are you on? ALSO: Find out the fates of sites that are associated with the duel, including the place Hamilton died and the rather disrespectful journey of the dueling grounds in Weehawken. CORRECTION: Alexander Hamilton had his fateful dinner as the house of Judge James Kent, not John Kent, as I state here.
6/27/2014 | Download File (57.21 MB) - right click to download
Cleopatra's Needle is the name given to the ancient Egyptian obelisk that sits in Central Park, right behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the bizarre tale of how it arrived in New York and the unusual forces that went behind its transportation from Alexandra to a hill called Greywacke Hill. The weathered but elegant monolith was created thousands of years ago by the pharaoh Thutmose III. Thanks to the great interest in Egyptian objects in the 19th century -- sometimes called Egyptomania -- major cities soon wanted obelisks for their own, acquired as though they were trophies of world conquest. France and England scooped up a couple but -- at least in the case of the ill-fated vessel headed to London -- not without great cost. One group was especially fascinated in the Alexandrian obelisks. The Freemasons have been a mysterious and controversial fraternity who have been involved in several critical moments in American history (including the inauguration of fellow Freemason George Washington.) A Freemason engineer and adventurer named Henry Honeychurch Gorringe discovered an incredible secret on the remaining Alexandria obelisk, a secret that might link the secretive organization to the beginnings of human civilization. But how do you get a 240 ton object, the length of a 7-story building, across the Atlantic Ocean and propped up in New York's premier park which had just opened a few years before? We let you in on Gorringe's technique and the curious Freemasons ceremony that accompanied the debut of the obelisk's cornerstone. PLUS: We have a secret or two to reveal ourselves in this episode. This is a must-listen podcast! www.boweryboyspodcast.com
6/13/2014 | Download File (32.23 MB) - right click to download
On June 15, 1904, hundreds of residents of the Lower East Side's thriving German community boarded the General Slocum excursion steamer to enjoy a day trip outside the city. Most of them would never return home. The General Slocum disaster is, simply put, one of the greatest tragedies in American history. Before September 11, 2001, it was the largest loss of life of any event that has ever taken place here. This is a harrowing story, brutal and tragic. The fire that engulfed the ship near the violent waters of the Hell Gate gave the passengers a horrible choice -- die by fire or by drowning. In the end, over one thousand people would lose their lives over an horrific event that could have been easily prevented. But in this tale are some surprising and even shocking stories of human survival, real stories of bravery and heroism. www.boweryboyspodcast.com