Gracie Square, 84th Street and East End Avenue 1949
The stills are from the movie East Side, West Side starring Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck and James Mason.
The vantage point from the dead end of East 84th Street is one you will rarely see in old photos of New York. The wall in the foreground marks one of the entrances to Carl Schurz Park.
Nearly seven decades later the changes in this view are minimal.
Some of the canopy’s to the buildings along Gracie Square are gone. 110 Gracie Square was renumbered for the film, it is really 10 Gracie Square, one of the most exclusive co-op buildings in the city. Built in 1930 as a rental building, famous past residents include Gloria Vanderbilt, conductor Leopold Stokowski (Vanderbilt’s husband), New York Times editor and author Charles Merz, and theater critic and author Alexander Woollcott. A five bedroom penthouse apartment has been on the market for over two years. Why so long? The original price tag was $23 million. Currently the asking price will only set you back $15 million, but be prepared for the monthly maintenance charges of $16,747. In 1937 the building went into foreclosure and the entire building was sold for $450,000!
The building seen in the first two photographs on the northwest corner of 84th Street and East End Avenue is the Chapin School, an exclusive all-girls school founded in 1901. The school is still there but the building has added some additional floors in the past few years.
The six story building visible on the southwest corner of 84th Street was demolished with two other six story rentals in the late 1990s and replaced with a luxury high-rise apartment building, 90 East End Avenue, in 1999.
Carl Schurz Park on the right side of the photographs remains with its lush trees over the street virtually unchanged. The fire hydrant seen in the 1949 photos is still there as well.
In the foreground of the 1949 photos, the wall, lamppost and mailbox attached to the lamppost were all removed long ago.
One major visible difference is the parking situation. In 1949 there were fewer cars and parking was readily available and the streets were less crowded by vehicular traffic. Today, parking on the upper east side is virtually impossible, not only because of significantly more traffic but with the confiscation of parking spots by various congestion and safety “improvements” such as Citibike, bike lanes, left hand turn lanes and bus lanes.
The congestion pricing myth is another story we’ll get to in the near future.