Category Archives: New York

Old New York In Photos #131 – 3rd Avenue & 34th Street From The El 1930

Looking North From The Third Avenue Elevated Station At 34th Street

34th St 3rd Ave El photo Percy Loomis Sperr

Our photograph was taken in 1930 by Percy Loomis Sperr who documented the changing scenes of New York during the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

We are looking north from the Third Avenue El’s station at 34th Street. Continue reading

Central Park Mall – Protect The American Elm

The Signs Are There For A Reason

The trees lining The Mall in Central Park are mature American Elms, over 100-years-old.

You don’t need to be a dendrophile to appreciate the American Elm. But, most people take for granted the canopy of trees that surround The Mall.

For the last 93 years the American Elm has been decimated by the spread of Dutch Elm Disease. Those who study plant pathology, phytopathologists, first identified the fungus which causes Dutch Elm Disease in 1921. Continue reading

Never Before Seen Photos Of 9/11 & The World Trade Center Devastation

Never Before Seen Photographs Around The World Trade Center After The 9/11 Attacks

It was one week after the September 11 attacks. America and New York City was still in a state of disbelief. There was fear and grief. There was apprehension, And there were heroes. People who ventured into ground zero endangering their own lives for search and rescue. Continue reading

New York City’s Famous Drake’s Restaurant 1900-1937

Drake’s Restaurant Was Open 24 Hours A Day For 37 Years Until Labor Troubles Set In

In our previous story we briefly told the story of Jack’s a famous New York restaurant that never closed. There was another “never closed” restaurant which was a New York institution for 37 years.

Drake’s was located at 111 West 42nd Street near Broadway. The restaurant was founded in 1900 as Rigg’s as part of the Rigg’s chain. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #24 – Pre-Prohibition Manhattan Restaurants 1900 -1920

Manhattan Meals – Some Pre-Prohibition Turn-Of-The-Century Restaurants

Maxim’s Restaurant 108-110 West 38th Street. Maxim’s was the first restaurant raided a few hours before prohibition went into effect January 15, 1920

With few exceptions owning a restaurant is among the most precarious businesses to enter. Long hours, high upfront costs for rent, food and labor and changing public tastes almost insure that few restaurants can make a long and successful run.

100 years ago many of New York’s older restaurants shut down because of an unexpected decline in business- the victims of prohibition.

Once cafes and restaurants lost the right to sell beer, wine and liquor many closed soon after the Volstead Act went into effect in 1920. Some restaurants known for fine cuisine were able to ride out 13 years with no alcohol sales. Other restaurants would turn to selling spirits illegally. Others like cafeteria and luncheon type restaurants survived, having always been patronized for their food.

All of the following restaurants shown below closed long ago.

Restaurant and Cafe Leo

Cafe Leo 14th Street New York CIty Restaurant and Cafe Leo stood on the southwest corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue. Note the Star of David over the entrances, not always the sign of a Jewish establishment, but a decorative element. In this case however, proprietor Leo Greenbaum was letting potential diners know this was a Jewish owned business. By 1923 Cafe Leo vanished from the city directory. Continue reading

1858 NYC Real Estate Sales Literature – For Sale 5th Avenue & 42nd Street

Selling 5th Avenue & 42nd Street In 1858 For “Moderate Terms”

From Its Windows One Could See The Hudson and East Rivers, Staten Island, Long Island, The Palisades and Westchester!

Fifth Avenue dwellings for sale 1858

This Gothic style structure stood on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The view is from an 1858 real estate advertising broadside print. On the southwest corner you can see a portion of the retaining wall of the massive Croton Distributing Reservoir which supplied New York’s drinking water. The main branch of the New York Public Library now occupies the site of the reservoir.

5th Ave and 42nd St. 1855 before construction of The House of Mansions. Croton Distributing Reservoir is on the right.

Though the structure appears to be one large building, it is actually 11 separate buildings. It was nicknamed The House of Mansions.

The buildings were designed by famed architect Alexander Jackson Davis and built by merchant George Higgins in 1856 as a speculative real estate investment. The buildings boasted  amazing views of distant vistas including Long Island, the Palisades and Westchester. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #128 – Madison Avenue & 26th Street 1870s

Two Photographs At 26th Street & Madison Avenue c. 1870 & 1875

This first stereoview photograph was taken by the pioneering New York photography firm E. & H.T. Anthony around 1870.

We are looking west from the southwest corner of 26th Street and Madison Avenue. Continue reading

117 Years Ago Today Over 1,000 New Yorkers Die In The General Slocum Disaster

June 15 1904 Over 1,000 People Die In The General Slocum Excursion Steamboat Fire

Hundreds Of Women And Children Burn And Drown In The Second Greatest Catastrophe In New York’s History

Illustration: Puck Magazine

Every year after 1904 there was a ceremony on June 15 to commemorate the victims of the General Slocum disaster. Today a few people will gather near an otherwise ignored memorial fountain in Tompkins Square Park to remember the 1,000 plus people who perished on the General Slocum.

If you do not know about the disaster you are not alone. Continue reading