New York Illustrated – As It Was 150 Years Ago – Part II

More New York Illustrations From Around 1870

Part II – Familiar Names – Vanished Sites

New York And Its Institutions book cover 1871We continue our look at New York of 150 years ago from Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871).

The names may be familiar, but possibly not the building or site.

While Central Park has remained a constant presence in New York City for over 160 years, it has constantly changed.

There were always developers looking to infringe upon the park with buildings and schemes. A fair portion of Central Park has managed to keep its original spirit, but many of its early additions have changed or no longer exist.

 Central Park

Children's playground Central Park 1870 playing baseballThe Children’s Playground in Central Park. There was no “Great Lawn” when Central Park was built. The Great Lawn opened in 1937, the result of filling in one of the two receiving reservoirs located within the park. The Central Park Playground seen above is an open field where children can play within its great expanse. This section was located in the southern end of the park, now site of the Heckscher playground and ballfields. Continue reading

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New York Illustrated – As It Was 150 Years Ago – Part I

Illustrations Of New York As Seen By Artists Around 1870

Part I – Demolished & Mostly Forgotten

Intersection Fifth Ave and Broadway at 23rd St looking north 1870

Intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue looking north towards the Worth Monument with The Fifth Avenue Hotel on the left (c. 1870)

Demolition of anything old  goes on every day without regard for New York’s history. I believe a day will come when all the pre-20th century buildings not given landmark protection will be gone. Demolished in the name of progress. Real estate values rule, not history values. That’s always been the way of New York.

When a historic structure like The St. Denis Hotel is obliterated instead of renovated it is a shame.

I see more and more ordinary tenement and commercial buildings falling at an astonishing rate. So I look around trying to see vestiges of things my great-grandparents might have known and been familiar with.

What did they see?

Recently I took out my copy of Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871) and started to re-read it. I had forgotten how many excellent illustrations were in the book. Belying the name, New York and Its Institutions is not solely focused only upon hospitals, asylum, charity and worship facilities. The book thoroughly covers other important sites and buildings with their respective histories. Though it was not written as a guide book, it essentially is one.

What my ancestors saw were these historic buildings which are now not even memories to most New Yorkers, most having been taken down over a hundred years ago,

Let’s take a look at what New York City looked like around 1871 and take in what the visitor and native New Yorker would have seen.

Part I – Buildings No Longer In Existence

Very few lamented the loss of the old Post Office at the corner of Nassau and Liberty Street – — until they saw what replaced it in 1875.

The modest Police Department headquarters at 300 Mulberry Street was replaced in 1909 by a grand structure on Broome and Centre Streets.

Wilson's industrial school for girls 1870 new york Wilson’s Mission House or Industrial School For Girls at 27-29 Avenue A corner of St. Mark’s Place across from Tompkins Square Park.

Broadway Grand Central Hotel 1870The Grand Central Hotel stood on the west side of Broadway opposite Bond Street between Amity and Bleecker Street. Illegal alterations caused a major collapse of the Broadway facade  on August 3, 1973. Incredibly only four people were killed. The remaining section of the hotel was soon demolished. Continue reading

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What Are Orioles Diering, Miranda & Ferrarese Celebrating In 1956?

Chuck Diering, Willy Miranda & Don Ferrarese Did Have A Good Reason To Celebrate… We Just Had To Figure Out What It Was.

Diering Miranda Ferrarese Yankee Stadium 1956

Orioles shortstop Willy Miranda is so tired that he required his teammates dry his hair off with a towel.

Actually its a  celebration of sorts taking place in the locker room thanking Mr. Miranda.

When I first came upon this photograph it had no identifying features except the names of Chuck Diering, Miranda and a badly misspelled Don Ferrarese. No year, no place, no story – nada. Continue reading

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Jackie Robinson Steals Home…Again

May 18, 1952 Jackie Robinson Steals Home

May 18 1952 stealing home  photo AP

New York, May 18 – Artful Dodger Steals Home
Across home plate in a cloud of dust comes Brooklyn Dodger second baseman Jackie Robinson as he completes one of baseball’s most daring maneuvers — the steal of home. Chicago catcher John Pramesa tries too late to put the ball on the speedy Robinson whose fourth inning larceny came with the bases full at Ebbets Field today. Cubs pitcher Willie Ramsdell was the victim of the play as Robinson beat the throw to the plate. The Dodgers beat the Cubs 7-2. (AP wirephoto)

Continue reading

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Old New York In Photos #113 – 42nd Street Looking West 1906

42nd Street Looking West From Sixth Avenue c. 1906

42nd Street c 1906 Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at RiversideOur photograph of 42nd Street is from the Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography. Keystone was one of the leading providers of stereoviews at the turn of the century.

The Keystone photographer shot this unusual second story viewpoint sometime around 1906.  The New York Times Tower Building was the new addition to the city’s skyline. Continue reading

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What’s So Unusual About Platt Rogers Spencer’s Tombstone?

This Tombstone Is Unique. Do You Know Why?

The Penmanship of Platt Rogers Spencer

Why is it that when we see an old postcard people remark that the handwriting is so beautiful? The graceful penmanship all looks similar because millions of people in the mid-nineteenth and up to the early twentieth century were taught a single method of handwriting.

This calligraphy type of writing was invented by Platt Rogers Spencer and called the Spencerian style and method of penmanship.

Spencer’s unique tombstone at Evergreen cemetery in Geneva, OH is the first grave marker to display the cursive handwriting that he developed and popularized.

Platt Rogers Spencer

Platt Rogers Spencer was the youngest of a family of ten children. He was born November 7, 1800, in East Fishkill, New York. He lived there and in Windham, N. Y., until he was nine years old, when he moved with his widowed mother and family to Jefferson, Ohio, which was then wilderness country.

There, Spencer developed his love of writing and devoted his life to the art of penmanship. Continue reading

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5 Of The Greatest UK Hard Rock Songs You (Probably) Never Heard Of

Five Of The Greatest & Least Known UK Hard Rock Songs (Unless You’re a Fan Of The Band)

Slade photo Paul Cox

Slade on stage photo Paul Cox

I’ve seen hundreds of rock bands live. Working in the music industry afforded me a close-up look at greatness. Unfortunately many times the public does not recognize, let alone buy greatness. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #95 – Planet of the Apes, Maurice Evans – Dr. Zaius

Planet of the Apes Star Maurice Evans Talks About Playing Dr. Zaius

Maurice Evans getting finishing make-up touches for Planet of the Apes photo Keystone
The Most Challenging Operation In History

The biggest and most challenging makeup operation in the history of Hollywood is currently underway for a new film called “Planet of the Apes”. One hundred artists and laboratory men have been given the job of turning out a cast of ape-like beings who inhabit another planet.

Faces of the apes are especially difficult to make since they must be pliable and able to express emotion. Experiments have been going on for a year to be ready for the commencement of the $5-million production.

The makeup substance is made partly of foam rubber and allows the actors to sweat without effecting their grotesque looks. Makeup men start on the cast as early as 4 o’clock in the morning to be ready for filming.

Story of the film is about astronaut Charlton Heston who lands on the weird planet peopled by sophisticated apes. Chief ape is played by Maurice Evans. – photo Keystone Press Agency 1967

The original choice to play Dr. Zaius was not Maurice Evans, but Edward G. Robinson. Supposedly Robinson could not bear the grueling makeup regimen and bowed out before filming began.

According to John Chambers, head makeup man for Planet of the Apes it took three and a half hours to turn a man into an ape. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #94 – Lana Turner, Stephen Crane & Frank Sinatra

Lana Turner, Stephen Crane & Frank Sinatra At The Stork Club 1943Lana Turner Stephen Crane Frank Sinatra Stork Club photo International News 1943

Nation’s Heart Throbs in Gotham

Two of the three persons at this Stork Club table probably account for more of the male and female heart throbs in America. Lana Turner takes care of the male faction while Sinatra the singer accounts for the fairer sex. In center is Stephen Crane who is fortunate enough to be Lana’s husband and personal heart throb. (October 9, 1943) Photo: International News

From the look of this press photo it seems film star Lana Turner (1921-1995) and singer Frank Sinatra have more chemistry than Turner and her husband Stephen Crane. Quick romances do not always lead to satisfying marriages. Lana Turner eloped with bandleader Artie Shaw in 1940 when she was just 19-years-old. The marriage lasted four months.

Only three weeks after meeting merchandiser and tobacco heir Stephen Crane, 21-year-old Lana Turner married him on July 17, 1942. In December of 1942 the couple announced they were expecting a child.  Continue reading

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Old New York In Photos #112 – Cortlandt Street 1908

Cortlandt Street – Spring 1908

Detroit Publishing Cortlandt Street 1908 New York City

Cortlandt Street 1908 via Detroit Publishing Co. collection held at the Library of Congress. (click to greatly enlarge)

Our view made by the Detroit Publishing Company is looking east from the corner of West Street along Cortlandt Street towards Broadway. Unlike some of their photographs, this one is copyrighted 1908 and that can be  confirmed by advertising in the background.

The street is named after one of Dutch New York’s leaders Oloff (Olaf) Stevense Van Cortlandt. Continue reading

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