Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Books on the Bowery

The Bowery has a long and celebrated history. Known as one of the greatest entertainment capitals in the country, this American street has inspired countless authors and historians. Tonight, November 16, David Mulkins, the co-founder and chair of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, joins Tenement Talks to discuss the rich and diverse history of the Bowery (6:30 pm, 108 Orchard Street).

Can’t make the Talk? Read about the present-day Bowery on Bowery Boogie, our co-sponsor for the evening's event, or pick up some of the following books, favorites of both Tenement Talks and the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.

Banished Children of Eve by Peter Quinn
Set in New York during the Civil War years, this historical fiction traces stories of immigration, gangs, prostitution, performers, war, draft riots, strikes, and racism. Using these issues as a backdrop, Quinn follows the intertwining experiences of common New Yorkers, such as minstrel actors, soldiers, and domestic servants, while emphasizing the lives of Irish Catholic immigrants in the city.

Low Life by Luc Santé
This social history focuses on the messy underbelly of New York City from the 1840s up until World War II. From opium dens to the Bowery’s suicide saloons, Santé illuminates the disease, crime, and corruption that erupted in post-industrial Manhattan.

Five Points by Tyler Anbinder
Anbinder illustrates the history of Five Points, a neighborhood exists today only as a commemorative plaque in Columbus Park. At its height, Five Points was home to more riots, prostitution, corruption, and drunkenness than any neighborhood in America. Anbinder uses letters, bank records, newspapers, and diaries to piece together the slum's history.

The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury
This book is an anthropological study in its own right. Written in 1928, Asbury examines the 19th-century history of the Bowery and Five Points. Asbury describes colorful criminals and gangs that ran rampant in the neighborhood at that time. Like the other books on this list, The Gangs of New York explores the more grisly history of New York City.

No Applause, Just Throw Money by Trav S.D
While some critics view vaudeville as crude, Trav S.D. argues that it was “the heart of American show business” in the years of 1881 to 1932. The author follows the cultural history of vaudeville, including matters of diversity and race in the theater.

- Posted by Alana Rosen

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