Off the Path from New York to Boston

Public Domain

Shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and HBO’s Pose have made drag queens famous. But the oldest drag shows in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood may date back to 1869 — four years after the Civil War and a century before the Stonewall Riots. They’re connected to a long-gone venue called the Rockland Palace.

Davis Dunavin / WSHU

It’s one of the world’s great literary mysteries: a 15th century book full of bizarre illustrations of imaginary plants, astrological signs, surreal figures and landscapes. Its origins are unknown, its creator anonymous. And it’s written entirely in an unknown language that’s stumped the world’s greatest codebreakers.

Courtesy of Touro Synagogue

This story first aired in 2018. It was inspired by a line from the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Hamilton,” now streaming on Disney Plus. It's a real line from a letter written by George Washington: "Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid." 

Davis Dunavin / WSHU

Until we get fully back on the road again, I’m checking in with a few establishments that are a little closer to home. Here's one just down the road from me. Bloodroot is a vegetarian restaurant and feminist bookstore on the banks of Long Island Sound in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Town of Somers Historical Society and The William and Nancy Bailey Collection

Off the Path is slowing down a bit for the summer (as are we all.) In the meantime, we're revisiting some classic stories. This episode originally aired February 1, 2018.

There’s a statue of an elephant on a 30-foot pole in the town green of Somers, a small town in Westchester County.

“Most people have a fallen war hero,” says town historian Doris Jane Smith, walking me around the nearby town hall. “We have the elephant.”