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How Sex Sold Songs in New York’s Early Theater Days

This week, we continue with our series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

View of 444 Broadway as The Olympic Theatre, year unknown. Photo courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

View of 444 Broadway as The Olympic Theatre, year unknown. Photo courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

James Norman knew exactly what he was doing when he walked into 444 Broadway in the spring of 1862. And the woman he shot knew, too. The music was loud, drinks were flowing, and he was a jilted man. He gave $100 dollars (a hefty sum in 1862) to buy furniture to his fiancée Kate White, a waitress at the concert saloon on the ground floor of the building. She ran away with the money, never to be heard from again. They had met one of the many times he must have come in drunk, sweaty, and groping. It’s not hard to imagine why she took the money and ran.

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Jonathan C. Stewart Dives into a Williamsburg Story On AMC’s Making of the Mob

Jonathan C. Stewart, actor who plays Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in the new AMC series,The Making of the Mob (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Jonathan C. Stewart, actor who plays Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel in the new AMC series,The Making of the Mob (Photo: Nicole Disser)

We couldn’t have picked a better spot to meet Jonathan C. Stewart, the actor who plays notorious mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel on AMC’s new show, The Making of the Mob. The Williamsburg dive bar, Jr. & Son is located in the neighborhood where Bugsy was born and raised, but in a way it’s hard not to find in the place a spiritual home for Brooklyn mobster lore as well. A grumpy looking bartender sporting a gold chain, thin mustache, and what was left of his hair slicked back grumbled to his regulars in a naturally aggressive Brooklyn wise-guy intonation. “Huh, lifestyles of the rich and famous, eh?” he said gesturing with disdain towards the TV in the corner. The sun was still shining outside, but inside it felt like a rainy day.

Stewart is a genial Midwestern dude with an easy smile. Even with the help of a fedora, I had to squint hard to imagine him harnessing the violent energy to play a personality like Bugsy Siegel, a hot-headed mobster who had about as much blood on his hands as he had style. Keep Reading »