Tag Archives: Hotels

Old New York In Photos #60

Broadway on the Upper West Side Close-up Circa 1908

Details Of Life and Architecture From One Photograph

Broadway 70th closeup of people(Click to enlarge any of the photographs.)

From the Detroit Publishing Company comes a great photograph showing the busy thoroughfare of Broadway on the upper west side of Manhattan. The photo above is just one detailed portion of the main photograph (see below).

By zooming in we can clearly observe details otherwise unnoticed. We see three children taking in the sights of the city while riding in the back of an open horse drawn wagon. Pedestrians walk across the street without being too concerned about the light vehicular traffic. Notice the woman in the center of the photo holding up her dress slightly so it did not scrape the street. But it wasn’t just women who were careful: all New Yorkers had to be rather adept at avoiding horse urine and manure that littered the streets. On the right, horse waste can clearly be seen near the man stepping off the curb.

But where exactly are we on Broadway?

Here is the answer…

Broadway north from 70th streetWe are looking north on Broadway from 70th Street to about 79th Street. There are two main buildings that stand out in the photograph. On the right between 71st and 72nd Streets is The Dorilton, an exceptionally ornate apartment building by architects Janes & Leo, completed in 1902. On the left on the northwest corner of 73nd Street, just beyond the subway station, is the Ansonia Apartment Hotel completed in 1904.

Broadway 70th closeup subway station trolleyZooming in again on the details in the center portion of the photo, trolley number 3061 makes its way down Broadway, passing the  subway station of the IRT at 72nd Street. It appears workers are repairing or painting the doors leading to the station.

Now let’s look at some other details. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #50

Marilyn Monroe Without Makeup – 1954

Marilyn Monroe in the morning with no makeup cloes up photo Milton GreeneIt is said that Marilyn Monroe was an expert at posing for photographers. During her early modeling days she questioned her photographers about the technical aspects of photography and over time and with studying, Marilyn learned how to always look her best in front of the camera.

So it was unusual that anyone would ever get to photograph Marilyn without makeup.

It dd happen occasionally, but those sans makeup photographs are the exception.

With photographer and one time business partner Milton Greene, Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #58

Panoramic View of Columbus Circle – 1904

Columbus Circle Trolley 1904 photo: National ArchivesThis phenomenal panoramic street level view of Columbus Circle comes via the National Archives. On their website it is misidentified as Eighth Avenue Trolley, (true – Eighth Avenue changes names to Central Park West) Downtown (which it certainly is not.) Click the photo to greatly enlarge.

We are looking north from 59th Street (Central Park South). The Columbus monument is not visible, but would be to the extreme left near where two gentlemen are standing in the street. Directly behind them are two subway kiosks for the entrance and exit of the soon to be opened New York City subway system.

Besides the subway, the new metropolis is emerging in other ways. An automobile is heading east towards Central Park South. To the left of the automobile, a trolley makes its way up Central Park West. To the left of the trolley is one of many horse drawn vehicles traveling up and down Broadway. 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

Old New York In Photos #50

Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street circa 1897

5th Ave 42nd Street c 1897By the shadows we can see it is morning on a somewhat chilly day in the heart of Manhattan in about 1897. We are looking north up Fifth Avenue from the corner of 42nd Street. Pedestrians stroll on the flagstone sidewalks while horse drawn vehicles make their way up and down the avenue.

Croton Distributing Reservoir photo: NYPL

Croton Distributing Reservoir photo: NYPL

On the extreme left the small wall with the iron fence marks the perimeter of the Croton Distributing Reservoir also known as the Murray Hill Reservoir, on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. Beyond the fence, stood massive walls 25 feet thick and over 50 feet high which when filled to capacity held 21 million gallons of water. The old reservoir served New York’s thirsty population from 1842 until it was taken out of service in 1897. The structure was demolished in 1900 and the main branch of the New York Public Library now stands on the site.

On the same corner we see an old fashioned fire hydrant and new electric lamppost standing next to what appears to be a gas lamp.

Just to the right of the wall a policeman chats another man perhaps a plain clothes detective as they look east across 42nd Street.  The building just behind them is the eight story Hotel Bristol. In 1903 the hotel would be converted to the Bristol Building.

500 Fifth Avenue Building

500 Fifth Avenue Building

After the Bristol was demolished the art deco 59 story skyscraper, 500 Fifth Avenue Building, would go up on the site between 1929-1931. 500 Fifth Avenue was built  by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon the same architects of the Empire State Building, also completed in 1931.

Next to the Hotel Bristol we see a glimpse of the seven story Hotel Renaissance built in the obligatory French Renaissance style and completed in 1891. Though the hotel was designed with the intention of attracting a “high class family and bachelor clientele” there were a certain class of people that were not welcome.

In 1907 Continue reading

In 1918 New York’s Hotel Commonwealth Was Going To Be The Largest In The World

 The Unbuilt 2,500 Room Hotel Commonwealth – New York’s Largest Hotel

Hotel Commonwealth New York City postcard view 3New York has always been a city of ambitious plans, dreams and schemes. But there are few rivals to the grandiose project for a hotel which was to be the largest in the world with 2,500 rooms and set up on a cooperative system to be owned by common investors.

The promotional brochure proclaimed:

TO BE BUILT BY THE COMMON WEALTH
TO BE MANAGED FOR THE COMMON GOOD
TO BE OPERATED FOR THE COMMON BENEFIT

The Hotel Commonwealth was to be situated on Broadway between 55th and 56th Streets. The description on the back of this 1918 postcard pictured above contains early 20th century ballyhoo of the highest order:

Hotel Commonwealth – “Greatest thing of its kind on earth.” The Commonwealth will be the first important building to be erected in conformance with the new building law to conserve light and sunshine for the general public. Through its 28 stories which will contain 2,500 rooms, it will rise 400 feet in the air in graceful terraces, or “set-backs” as the zoning law calls them, the flowering plants and shrubs upon each terrace giving the monster hostelry an unusual beauty of architecture, rivaled only by the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The planned 2,500 rooms would be 500 more rooms than the largest hotel ever built. 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

Old New York in Postcards #2

A Longer Tour Around Old New York

Today we will look at the old hotels of New York.  In some cases these buildings still stand. For others the names have changed. Some have been converted to apartments or other uses. And some are just a memory.  Working our way from south to north let’s look at a dozen of the lesser known of New York’s hostelry’s.

Hotel Marlton just off of 5th avenue circa 1920. The center of Greenwich Village and now a street of endless cut price shoe stores, 8th Street was once a fashionable residential neighborhood. Many famous literary and artistic figures resided at the Hotel Marlton at one time. Starting in 1987 the Marlton was leased as a residence for students of The New School of Social Research. It is now closed as a hotel and a dormitory, and its future is undecided.  Notice on the side of the hotel there is an advertisement for the hotel proclaiming it “absolutely fireproof.” There was a  good reason for touting this feature. On St. Patrick’s Continue reading