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Host AMAsThe Bowery Boys
AMAs > Greg Young

Greg Young

show The Bowery Boys: New York City History
When March 22 2018 @ 04:30PM (UTC)

Greg Young is the co-host of the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast 💠, exploring almost 400 years of stories about this extraordinary city and how its cultural, social and political contributions have influenced America and the world. The Bowery Boys podcast began in 2007 in the Lower East Side apartment of co-host Tom Meyers and the duo have produced over 257 shows over the past eleven years. In 2017, the Bowery Boys podcast received a special commendation from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. The Bowery Boys, named for a rowdy 19th century street gang, released their first book Adventures In Old New York in 2015. Young is currently at work on a solo history book.

Greg will be live on Mar 22 starting at 430pm ET for one and a half hours to answer as many questions as possible. Feel free to start asking Greg questions any time in the lead-up to the AMA.

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Ask a Question

Can’t attend the live event? Ask a question now and Burnie will answer it on Sep 22 2018 @04:30pm(ET) and we’ll let you know via email when your question has been answered.

31 Questions
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Vas Rajan asked this question 1 year ago

Do you think the new Moynihan Station will, when completed, do justice to what we lost in the old Penn Station? How do you think it will compare in terms of grandeur and splendor to the old Penn Station during its prime?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Well it can’t be any worse that what’s there already! From the renderings I’ve seen, it will certainly match the drama and elegance of old Penn Station. There are some plans I’ve seen that make it look EXACTLY like the interior in some places. That struck me as a little odd; we look with fondness at the romantic old interiors, but the fact is, even the old Penn Station had its problems. Should we emulate even those problems out of nostalgia? However I’m confident it will be a good (and functional) mix of old and new.

And as long as the novelty tie shop Tie-Coon remain in place, then I’ll be pleased. Oh, and Tracks the cocktail lounge! These are literally the only two things in the current Penn Station I love.

Nikki Loraines asked this question 1 year ago

What brought you and Tom to New York, since you are from other states pretty far from the city?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Tom came here in 1993 – from Ohio – to attend Columbia University, but his older brother already lived here and was doing some cool things in the downtown Tribeca art scenes, actually. That certainly gave him some incentive to stay after college.

I grew up in the Ozarks in Springfield, Missouri, and was a journalism major at the University of Missouri-Columbia, with a concentration in magazines, so I was always destined to come to New York City, the magazine capital, at some point. (Although there was a pivotal moment where I had almost decided to move to Los Angeles!) I did a magazine internship in 1992 and then was fortunate that a couple older grad students from Missouri had moved here and had gotten a really great apartment on Park Avenue South. So I just moved in.

Kate Slack asked this question 1 year ago

What are your top 5 recommendations for history lovers visiting New York?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Just the 5? Well if you only had a couple days and you really wanted a focused historical experience, I would recommend:

1 ‘The Triangle’ of early NYC History – Wall Street, Broadway and Water Street, including a trip to Castle Clinton and Battery Park. So many great history stops in that little area
2 Tenement Museum and a stroll through the Lower East Side with a stop at the Eldridge Street Synagogue
3 Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade
4 African Burial Ground Memorial and Museum
5 Any of New York City’s local history museum — pick one! (New-York Historical Society, Brooklyn Historical Society, Museum of the City of New York, Jewish Museum, etc) Check out their websites and find an exhibition you like.

And a bonus site! Roosevelt Island – go over by tram. See the smallpox hospital, the FDR memorial, and enjoy the skylines on both sides of the water. (This is my pet favorite recommendation although not for everybody.)

Hannah Cruze asked this question 1 year ago

I plan on going to NYC in the near future for the first time. What 5 places are a must see/first stop when I go?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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1) Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
2) Get lost in the West Village. Seriously, wandering around and don’t worry about getting too lost. (It’s not that big.)
3) See Grand Central Terminal and have lunch at the Oyster Bar
4) Wander the southern half of Central Park. Top that off with two hours at the Met (if you can afford it!) or stroll down to MOMA
5) Do ‘the Triangle’ of early NYC History – Wall Street, Broadway and Water Street, including a trip to Castle Clinton and Battery Park. So many great history stops in that little area. Fraunces Tavern, Stone Street, Financial Museum, Federal Hall, Museum of the American Indian, etc.

Donald Drapper asked this question 1 year ago

New York was its own character in Mad Men. Would you guys ever do a Mad Men themed episode? The landmarks and locations shown and what that looks like today. PJ Clark’s, the time life building, commuting from Ossining, etc

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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As you all know (or those who follow us on Twitter know), I love Mad Men and, really any New York City history themed show. I’d have to get Tom on board with the details of the show. (I’m not sure he’s even seen more than a couple episodes.) Generally speaking, an episode about the 60s Madison Avenue ad scene would be fascinating to me.

But speaking of TV history shows, we are dancing around doing some kind of thing with the Marvelous Mrs Maisel and the birth of the New York comedy scene. Hopefully we will get a chance to tie it into that show once it comes around again for a second season.

Susan asked this question 1 year ago

How about a podcast about “The Tombs”.

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Believe it or not, it was supposed to have been recorded by now! It keeps getting moved because of other commitments but we will get to it – I hope – by the fall.

Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Believe it or not, it was supposed to have been recorded by now! It keeps getting moved because of other commitments but we will get to it – I hope – by the fall.

Jessica asked this question 1 year ago

You paint such wonderful pictures for your listeners of long gone places in New York. Is there a now extinct place, or natural structure in Manhattan that you personally struggle to imagine as an in real life, three dimensional place or thing? What piece of history is that for you?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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For one, see the aforementioned question about the Tombs. Its just so hard to imagine an Egyptian style building in the middle of New York’s worst tenement district. Actually a lot of these bulky, Egyption style buildings (the Murray Hill Reservior is another) that just seems impossible that they ever existed. I think it’s less architecture than it is places that seem so absurdly old-fashioned and just WRONG now — baby incubators on the Coney Island sideshow, Barnum’s American Museum, Blackwell’s Island in general.

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

What were the locations or topics that most surprised even you — the ones you thought would be just OK, but turned out great, or the ones you had high expectation for but turned out meh?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Our show on Tribeca was the first in some time where I wanted to immediately go back to that neighborhood after the show was recorded. Usually we’re a little burned out about a place if we’ve been studying it for a couple dozen hours. But I was stunned by how much history there was in Tribeca.

I wouldn’t say ‘meh’ but there are certain subjects with very straight-forward histories like the Empire State Building that don’t have a lot of unexpected twists in them (outside the plane crash and all that Trump/Helmsley stuff!)

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

Who would win the cage match: Robert Moses or Jane Jacobs?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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As reflected in the modern city of New York City itself, I feel like Jane wins after a very costly battle.

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

Other than the elusive and mysterious Episode 1, which is the episode you where you’d most like a do-over?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Rikers Island seriously deserves a re-do, as does Roosevelt Island.

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

You’re quickly closing in on Episode 300. Bob was 100. Jane was 200. Who (or what’s) on the short list for 300?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Fiorello? Warhol? McKim Mead and White? I would say Emma Lazarus but (spoiler alert) that’s arriving sooner than later.

Rose Pate asked this question 1 year ago

What’s the don’t-miss site for a visitor to NYC who’s a Revolutionary War buff?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Ugh just the one? Probably the Stone House in Park Slope OR the Conference House in Staten Island. Both places have stories central to the early years of the conflict.

Rose Pate asked this question 1 year ago

In what NY neighborhood is the pre-1900 history closest to the surface?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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A lot of good candidates for this, but just in terms of historical immersion, i’ll go with Brooklyn Heights. There are certain blocks where almost every detail seems to be from the 1880s except for the parked cars. There are places like Fort Wadsworth which are beautifully preserved relics. And if you’re looking for that pre-1600 ambiance, a visit to Inwood Park is good. (It’s the last remaining natural forest in Manhattan.)

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

When you tackled the Underground Railroad, was the field trip to Plymouth Church as fun as it sounded?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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I’m not sure ‘fun’ is really the appropriate word. Profound, certainly. Plymouth is an excellent custodian of their heritage.

Rose Pate asked this question 1 year ago

Where are some sites that do a great job of historical reenactment? And where’s a site that doesn’t do reenactment, but you wish it did?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Richmond Town, Federal Hall and Hamilton Grange. I took a tour of the Van Cortlandt House in Van Cortlandt Park that was lead by George Washington. That was surreal! This might sound strange, but wouldn’t it be cool if the Brooklyn Navy Yard had actors in period early 19th century military garb? Probably too distracting.

Rose Pate asked this question 1 year ago

What historical spots would be the most engaging to tweets and teens?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Governors Island is the perfect place for families. One of my good friends just took her 15 year old daughter to the Tenement Museum and she was moved to tears. I think the New York Fire Museum is amazing and weird.

Marissa Jones asked this question 1 year ago

How much time does it take you to create an episode? Do you have a favorite that you would suggest as a start here for someone who is new to your show?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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The time really varies based on 1) how much walking we have to do and 2) the number of people and institutions we need to talk to. Many shows build on information we already have and know so they’re a little easier. Shows like Before Harlem: New York’s Forgotten Black Neighborhoods take weeks to do, whereas our Rodgers and Hammerstein show could be done in a few days.

We actually did a roundup of shows for beginners which we call the Bowery Boys Starter Pack. I has the subway, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge etc:

http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2018/01/new-listener-bowery-boys-podcast-start-ten-episodes-first.html

Rose Pate asked this question 1 year ago

What year or event is your “cutoff” for consideration as history for the podcast?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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There is no cut-off really but it’s nice to give something some ‘breathing room’ and let things enter memory a little bit. But if anybody wants to hear us talk about Cynthia Nixon’s gubernatorial bid, let me know!

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

What TV shows and movies get it right with New York history and which get it wrong?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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I’ve seen complaints that The Alienist looks too European (it is, after all, filmed there) but New York kind of DID aspire to look European in the 19th century. Mad Men is the absolute best of all time with The Knick doing a fine job as well. Meanwhile, The Greatest Showman is a total mess. Say what you will about its more enjoyable attributes, it just wasn’t built to be historically credible at all.

Hannah Cruze asked this question 1 year ago

You said you loved historical shows based in NY! Although it takes place all over the northeast part of the country including NY, I was wondering if you’ve ever seen Turn. Any thoughts on it if you have?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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I actually used to Tweet during Turn before it moved to Saturday and I couldn’t follow it in real time. I missed the last season but I greatly enjoyed it. My hope is that one day HBO actually goes and films a regular show set during the Revolution. And who has the TV rights to Ron Chernow’s Hamilton biography? It can be a visionary musical AND a more straight-forward ‘limited TV series’ at the same time!

Jessica asked this question 1 year ago

Your halloween episodes are such fun… in your own New York explorations have YOU encountered any spirits in historical spots? Have any festive gourds moved all by themselves during a recording of the halloween episode? Do tell.

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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So we have had a couple rather unusual things happen during recording but I think that might have less to do with ethereal spirits and more to do with those that come in a bottle. But seriously I haven’t personally experienced anything like that but we are considering meeting up with an actual ‘ghost hunter’ or some kind of spiritual adviser in time for the next show to see what kinds of experiences we can scare up.

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

A sort of side question, if I may: Will “The First” podcast be returning soon?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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It will return later in the year and I’m hoping perhaps even in the summer. But the book project is my priority for the spring.

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

A sort of side question, if I may: Will “The First” podcast be returning soon?

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William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

The bio on this page mentions you’re working on a solo history book. Can you say yet what that topic will be? Like, even a hint?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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A hint — it’s about New York City and it’s about children.

William Pate asked this question 1 year ago

What’s the question (and answer) nobody’s asked, but you wish they had?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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“Why did you record an entire show about Donald Trump in 2011?”

http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2011/04/short-history-of-trump-roots-of-donalds.html

Jessica asked this question 1 year ago

What spot do you see as being the most repurposed over time? Like Washington Square Park a potter’s field, parade ground, a private park, public park… what other spots have lived many, many lives over time?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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The Limelight has been a church, a convent, a rehab center, a nightclub, a mall, a pizza joint and a gym. That’s gotta be the repurposing king of NYC!

http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2011/04/short-history-of-trump-roots-of-donalds.html

Hannah Cruze asked this question 1 year ago

Do you think you’ll do an episode on Philippe Petit in the future?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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That’s a lovely idea. We’ve never done a show on the World Trade Center so far. I’d love to do a focus on WTC in the 60s and 70s and bring Petit into the story. Plus he seems like the kind of guy who might actually come onto the show and talk about it!

Jessica asked this question 1 year ago

Tom seems to have a serious talent for puns, are there any particularly memorable ones that come to mind?

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Greg Young replied 1 year ago

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Well our newest show is about to come out in a couple hours — on the history of the Williamsburg Bridge. Truss me, there’s some good ones in there. Believe it or not, the absolute best puns on the show are always unscripted. We almost never script jokes and when we do, they always sound lame.

Greg Young asked this question 1 year ago

Thanks for the questions!

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Greg Young asked this question 1 year ago

Our latest episode comes out in just a couple hours. And check out our last few shows — on the histories of Tribeca, the Great Blizzard of 1888 and the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO.

http://www.boweryboyshistory.com

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Jessica asked this question 1 year ago

Thank you!

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