Cities: December 2011 Archives

One of the pleasures of reading the New York Press online, back when it was one of the earliest alt-weeklies on the web, was William Bryk's weekly historical column, "Old Smoke." Bryk later wrote a column for the too-short-lived New York Sun. Each week Bryk took the reader on a fascinating journey into some obscure piece of New York history with a present-day connection.

Bryk's columns, at least selected pieces from 1998 to 2003, are now back online at a new website, City of Smoke. A few examples to whet your appetite:

Judge Crater: "The Missingest Man in New York." I can remember when Judge Crater was right up there with Amelia Earhart as a synonym for "missing person." (He got shoved aside by Jimmy Hoffa.)

The Brooklyn Dodgers: "Dem Brooklyn Bums Go West." The story behind the Dodgers' departure for Los Angeles, a rare defeat for Robert Moses, the uncrowned king of New York.

Dr. John R. Brinkley: "The Unsubtle Knife." Brinkley, a promoter of quack surgery, promoted his businesses with his million-watt border radio station XER, just across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas.

Alas, perhaps my favorite edition of Old Smoke, from 2002, is not yet on the new site, although it is still available on the New York Press website: The story of early Oklahoma defense lawyer Moman Pruiett, the subject of a book titled He Made It Safe to Murder. (The New York connection? A revival of Oklahoma! was opening on Broadway that week.)

MORE: If you enjoy Bryk's writing on New York City history, you're sure to enjoy Kevin Walsh's Forgotten New York, which documents with words and photos physical remnants of the New York of the past throughout the Five Boroughs and beyond. His most recent essay is a tour of Calvary Cemetery in Queens.

UPDATED 2014/05/04 with changed New York Press URL.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Cities category from December 2011.

Cities: August 2011 is the previous archive.

Cities: January 2012 is the next archive.

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