#40: Union Square
Join the Bowery Boys as we dig into the history of Union Square.
3/7/2014 | Download File (56.12 MB) - right click to download
The George Washington Bridge is surprisingly graceful, but politically scandalous. And we're not talking about the current crisis being faced by current New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Figuring out a way to cross over the Hudson River (not using a boat or ferry) between New York City and New Jersey has been a challenge engineers and builders have tried to solve for over two hundred years. With the formation of the Port Authority in 1921, there was finally an administrative body with the ability to bring a Hudson River bridge to life. At the core of this story is a professional disagreement (or betrayal, depending on how you see it) between Gustav Lindenthal, the dreamer of a monumental crossing twice the size of the Brooklyn Bridge, and his protégée Othmar Ammann, who envisioned a simpler crossing in a less populated part of town. The eventual bridge was built thanks to a few strategic, political moves by the New Jersey governor, but some of its original ornamentation was left off during the Great Depression. Still, even today, it's considered one of the most beautiful bridges of the Hudson River. Here's the story of an under-appreciated masterpiece that two states are proud to share. ALSO: The story of the little red lighthouse and the great big flag!
2/7/2014 | Download File (53.25 MB) - right click to download
The New York Fire Department protects the five boroughs from a host of disasters and mishaps -- five-alarm blazes, a kitchen fire run amok, and even those dastardly midtown elevators, always getting stuck! But today's tightly organized team is a far cry from the chaos and machismo that defined New York's fire apparatus many decades ago. New York's early firefighters -- Peter Stuyvesant's original ratel-watch -- were all-purpose guardians, from police work to town timepieces. Volunteer forces assembled in the 18th century just as innovative new engines arrived from London. By the 19th century, the fire department was the ultimate boys club, gangs of rival firefighters, with their own volunteer 'runners', racing to fires as though in a competition. Fisticuffs regularly erupted. From this tradition came Boss Tweed, whose corrupt political ways would forever change New York's fire services -- for better and for worse. Volunteers were replaced by an official paid division by 1870. Now using horse power and new technologies, the department fought against the extraordinary challenges of skyscraper and factory fires. There were internal battles as well, as the department struggled to become more inclusive within its ranks. But the greatest test lay in the modern era -- from a deteriorating infrastructure in the 1970s that left many areas of New York unguarded, and then, the new menace of modern terrorism that continues to test the skill of the NYFD. From burning chimneys in New Amsterdam to the tragedy of 9/11, this is the story of how they earned the nickname New York's Bravest.
1/10/2014 | Download File (55.72 MB) - right click to download
Central Park has frequently been called 'the people's park," but we think Tompkins Square Park may have a better claim to that title. From its inception, this East Village recreational spot -- named for Vice President Daniel D Tompkins -- has catered to those who might not have felt welcome in other New York parks. Carved from the marshy area of Peter Stuyvesant's old farm, Tompkins Square immediately reflected the personality of German immigrants who moved here, calling it Der Weisse Garten. With large immgratns groups came rallies and demands for improved working conditions, leading to more than a number of altercations with the police in the 19th century. Progressives introduced playgrounds here, and Robert Moses changed the very shape of Tompkins Square. But the most radical transformation here took place starting in the late 1950s, with the introduction of 'hippie' culture and infusion of youth and music. By the 1980s, the park became known not only for embodying the spirit of the East Village through punk music and drag shows, but also as a haven for the homeless. Clashes with police echoed the altercation that happened here one century before. The park still maintains a curfew left over from the strife of the late 1980s. FEATURING: Lillian Wald, the Grateful Dead, Charlie Parker, Lady Bunny ... and Chevy Chase?
12/13/2013 | Download File (54.14 MB) - right click to download
The Broadway Musical is one of New York City's greatest inventions, 150 years in the making! It's one of the truly American art forms, fueling one of the city's most vibrant entertainment businesses and defining its most popular tourist attraction -- Times Square. But why Broadway, exactly? Why not the Bowery or Fifth Avenue? And how did our fair city go from simple vaudeville and minstrel shows to 'Shuffle Along', 'Irene' and 'Show Boat', surely the beginning of the truly modern American musical? This podcast is an epic and wild musical adventure in itself, full of musical interludes, zipping through the evolution of musical entertainment in New York City, as it races up the 'main seam' of Manhattan -- the avenue of Broadway. We are proud to present a tour up Broadway, past some of the greatest theaters and shows that have ever won acclaim here, from the wacky (and highly copied) imports of Gilbert & Sullivan to the dancing girls and singing sensations of the Jazz Age. STARRING: Well, some of the biggest names in songwriting, composing and singing. And even a dog who talks in German! And featuring our new sponsor Squarespace! www.boweryboyspodcast.com Twitter: boweryboys
11/15/2013 | Download File (27.15 MB) - right click to download
The Hotel Theresa is considered a genuine (if under-appreciated) Harlem treasure, both for its unique architecture and its special place in history as the hub for African-American life in the 1940s and 50s. The luxurious apartment hotel was built by a German lace manufacturer to cater to a wealthy white clientele. But almost as soon as the final brick was laid, Harlem itself changed, thanks to the arrival of thousands of new black residents from the South. Harlem, renown the world over for the artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance and its burgeoning music scene, was soon home mostly those who identified as black. But many of the businesses here refused to serve black patrons, or at least certainly made them unwelcome. The Theresa changed its policy in 1940 and soon its lobby was filled with famous athletes, actresses and politicians, many choosing to live at the Hotel Theresa over other hotels in Manhattan. The hotel's relative small size made it an interesting concentration of America's most renown black celebrities. In this podcast, I give you a tour of this glamorous scene, from the corner bar to the penthouse, from the breakfast table of Joe Louis to the crazy parties of Dinah Washington. www.boweryboyspodcast.com