Tag Archives: Hotel Astor

Ten Great Films From The 1940s Featuring New York City

Filming Around New York City In The 1940s

On The Town posterDuring Hollywood’s golden years from the 1930s through the early 1950s there were many films set in New York City, but the vast majority were made on the studio lots in southern California. Almost every studio had their own New York set which would convey “the Big Apple.”

The reasons for doing so were obvious; the costs of actually sending the cast and crew on location to film would be cost prohibitive and complete control could be exercised in the studio for crowd control, noise, lighting and other technical issues.

Occasionally films would use stock footage of New York or a second unit directing team would be sent to capture a New York scene or two to be used as establishing shots showing the audience, yes this is New York. Usually though none of the principal characters in the film were ever actually in New York, but back in Hollywood, playing against what is called a “process shot” a background screen showing New York footage usually while the actors were walking or driving.

Even such quintessential “New York” films such as A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) were shot completely in Hollywood.

So when the cast and crew actually did any filming in New York it was a rare treat, especially looking back today at the much changed metropolis.

Here are ten of the best 1940s films where a part of the movie was actually filmed on location in New York City.

Saboteur Cummings and Lloyd Statue of LibertySaboteur (1942) This cross-sountry chase of one man falsely accused of sabotage pursuing the real saboteur winds up in New York. Director Alfred Hitchcock had his second unit shoot footage in the city that shows New York in the midst of World War II. We see Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the waterfront and other familiar city sights.  A masterpiece of storytelling the film moves at a smooth pace as you bite your nails watching. Spoiler alert: Sinister character actor Norman Lloyd battles hero Robert Cummings on Bedloe’s Island at The Statue of Liberty in one of the most iconic conclusions to a film ever shot.

Ray Milland The Lost Weekend Third Avenue photo Life MagazineThe Lost Weekend (1945) Director Billy Wilder takes advantage of New York, shooting many of the exteriors of The Lost Weekend on location. Ray Milland’s portrayal of troubled, alcoholic writer Don Birnam won him an Academy Award for best actor. The film also won Oscars for best picture, best director and best screenplay. There are so many shots of Milland in the city it becomes a game to recognize where the actual locations are. Third Avenue is prominently put on display. The giant street clock Milland passes in one scene is still there today – located on Third Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets. All the mom and pop stores and restaurants along the way are long gone, replaced mostly by chains. P.J Clarke’s on Third Avenue and 55th Street was used in the shooting but many of the interior scenes of the bar were shot back in Hollywood. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #12 – 20 Historic Buildings That Were Demolished

20 Historic, Beautiful New York Buildings That Were Demolished

City Hall  Newspaper Row Buildings (l-r) World Building (aka Pulitzer Building), Sun Building, Tribune Building - all demolished. New York Times and Potter Buildings are still extant

City Hall Newspaper Row Buildings (l-r) World Building (aka Pulitzer Building), Sun Building, Tribune Building – all demolished. New York Times and Potter Buildings are still extant

New York City real estate developers will always knock down a building if a buck can be made. So it really should come as no surprise that these buildings were demolished because they outlived their usefulness or more often than not, the land they sat upon was deemed more valuable than the building itself.

Nathan Silver’s must-own book, Lost New York (1967) Houghton Mifflin, was the first book to explicitly point out what New York City had lost architecturally over the years. If you have never read it, you should.

For our short postcard essay, there are hundreds of examples we could have chosen from and we picked 20. We omitted places of worship, theatres and restaurants which are the most transitory of buildings.

We’ve covered hotels before, and we could do another story on all the historic hotels that have been torn down, but we’ve included a few in this retrospective.

Rather than comment extensively on the buildings, a brief summary will suffice and the images should convey what we have lost. These postcards have been scanned at 1200 dpi in high resolution, click on any postcard to enlarge.

Singer Building hresSinger Building – 149 Broadway (corner Liberty Street),  A gem by architect Ernest Flagg, built 1908. Once the tallest building in the world. The Singer Building was elegant and sleek. Demolished 1967-68 and replaced by a ugly box of a building built by the Unites States Steel Corporation.

Produce Exchange hresProduce Exchange – 2 Broadway between Beaver and Stone Streets. Architect George B. Post’s splendid work of grace was built in 1883, demolished 1957.

Gillender Building 2 hresGillender Building – northwest corner Wall Street and Nassau Street. Architects, Charles I. Berg and Edward H. Clark, built in 1897 at a cost of $500,000. The Gillender Building was the tallest office building in the world for a brief time. The 20-story tower lasted only 13 years. In 1910 it was the first modern fireproof building to be demolished and it was done at breakneck speed, in under 45 days. The Gillender Building was replaced by the Bankers Trust Tower. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #34

Jayne Mansfield In A Revealing Pose – 1955

Later That Year, Jayne Is Photographed With Her Role Model, Marilyn Monroe

Jayne Mansfield in a negligee 1955 photo Milton Greene

This photograph of Jayne Mansfield in a sheer negligee top is not your standard cheesecake photo. And it’s not because Jayne is a little overexposed, which tended to be her modus operandi in front of the camera.

It is because the photograph was taken by Milton Greene, known for his business partnership with Marilyn Monroe. In 1955, Greene did a whole session of photographs with Mansfield and made some stunning images of her.

Considering Greene’s business dealings and personal closeness to Marilyn Monroe,(Marilyn was living for a time with Greene and his wife Amy) it is a bit of a surprise that Marilyn Continue reading

Historic List Of Every Hotel In Manhattan In 1964

All The Hotels In Manhattan With Addresses and Telephone Numbers From 50 Years Ago

New York Guidebook John KouwenhovenFrom one of the best (and for some reason uncommon) guidebooks to New York City ever published, The New York Guidebook edited by John A. Kouwenhoven (Dell) 1964, comes this useful list of every hotel in Manhattan. We should clarify “every” with the word “approved” hotel and motel. In other words, the flop houses on The Bowery or other squalid hotels did not make the final cut.

The New York Guidebook was published with the 1964 New York World’s Fair visitor in mind as there is a special section devoted to it.

All together there are 183 hotels listed in the book. If you are wondering about the prices, they are not listed. But by checking another pamphlet from the time I discovered The Plaza Hotel was charging from $20 – $34 per night for a double room, while The Madison Square Hotel was charging $7 – $8 per night for a double.

You will note that all the telephone numbers begin with the letter prefix’s such as GR for Gramercy, BU for Butterfield, CI for Circle and RH for Rhinelander. This was because the telephone exchange corresponded with the neighborhood a person or business was located in.  It is a much more picturesque way of assigning a phone number and made remembering the number much easier. PEnnsylvania 6-5000 anybody?

What is also interesting to notice is how many of these hotels are still in existence today and how many which had been in business for such a long time have now vanished.

This is presented as a research tool, but for many the list will bring up a wisp of nostalgia when you see the names Hotel Astor, The Drake, Biltmore and Savoy. I wish there was a list like this available online for every decade in New York City from the 1800’s and on.

So here is our online contribution to researchers or those who are just curious.

Hotels of Manhattan –  1964:

Abbey Hotel, 151 W. 51st St., N. Y. 19, N. Y., (CI 6-9400)

Aberdeen Hotel, 17 W. 32nd St., N. Y. 1, N. Y., (PE 6-1600)

Adams Hotel, 2 E. 86th St., N. Y. 28, N. Y., (RH 4-1800)

Alamac Hotel, 71st St. & Broadway, N. Y. 23, N. Y., (EN 2-5000)

Albert Hotel, 23 E. 10th St., N. Y. 3, N. Y., (OR 7-0100)

Alden Hotel, 225 Central Park W., N. Y. 24, N. Y., (TR 3-7300)

Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th St., N. Y. 36, N. Y., (MU 7-4400) Continue reading

Times Square January 11, 1954 – Lots of Snow And Cold Weather

January 11-12, 1954 – Biggest Snowstorm In Five Years Hits New York

Times Square Snowstorm Jan 12 1954

60 years ago, on Monday January 11, 1954 New York City got walloped with a 10 inch snowstorm with temperatures dipping down to 15 degrees. The storm continued on through Tuesday making travel difficult and it gave sanitation department workers extra long shifts for snow removal. It was the heaviest snowfall in New York City since December 19-20, 1948, when more than 19 inches fell.

The scene shown here is Times Square looking north with the Hotel Astor on the left. Directly across the street is the famous Bond Clothiers advertising sign.

The snow did not result in shutting down New York City schools. Some elementary schools did allow girls to be dismissed 15 minutes early to spare them from being pelted with snowballs by the boys. Just outside of the city it was a different story as Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties generally did close public and parochial schools for the day.

The snow ended at 7:05 a.m. on January 12. Highways were mostly kept clear, but most drivers played it safe and left their cars at home. The real problem was that over the next two days the temperature in New York kept dropping. It went down to a low of 11 degrees, freezing the snow into hard packed ice, making it difficult for pedestrians to navigate the streets.

Western Rockland and northern Westchester counties, saw the temperature dip to as low as two below zero. In northern Maine the temperature was minus 25.

The cold wave stuck around for a whole week. The temperature hit a two year low in New York City on the morning of January 18. The mercury registered just 8.8 degrees at 1:30 a.m.. The weather finally changed on January 19 when the temperature rose to 40 degrees.

New York’s Big Snowstorm Of 1948

December 19, 1948 – Times Square 8:53 pm

On this day 63 years ago, 19.6 inches of snow blanketed the city.  Here is Times Square in the midst of this snowstorm with only a few pedestrians and cars visible. Because it was a Sunday, traffic was light and the city was able to prepare and battle the storm efficiently. Mayor William O’Dwyer had a force of 18,340 men to remove the snow and keep the city running.

To the disappointment of children on Monday, New York City schools were open.

Looking north from the Times Building we see on the left The Paramount Building with the Paramount Theatre’s marquee lights casting an extreme white glow and on the next block The Hotel Astor. On the right are two iconic neon advertising signs; one for Camel cigarettes between 43rd and 44th Streets and the other for Bond Clothiers between 44th and 45th Streets.

The Bond sign contained nearly two miles of neon and had two fifty foot nude figures at each end, one male and one female. A huge recirculating waterfall between the two figures topped off this amazing advertising sign which was in place from 1948-1954.