Two Views of New York’s Historic Madison Square Taken From the Flatiron Building 1903 & 1958
The New York Daily News used to do a feature, where they showed an old photograph of New York and had a modern photograph of the same scene.
From the newly completed Flatiron Building, here is Madison Square from about 1903.
Madison Square Garden and its tower are in the center of the photo. Brownstones and mostly low-rise buildings surround the Madison Square neighborhood. There are so few tall buildings that you can see the East River off in the distance. The building with the columns at the bottom of the photo is the Appellate Division courthouse. A small corner of Madison Square Park can be seen in the lower left,
Fast forward about 55 years and the changes are dramatic.
Daily News photographer David McLane had access from a similar vantage point in the Flatiron Building to take this photograph circa 1958. Continue reading →
A Tale of Three Buildings: Franconi’s Hippodrome, The Fifth Avenue Hotel & The Fifth Avenue Building a.k.a. The Toy Center
The west side of Fifth Avenue between 23rd and 24th streets had been country land well into the middle of the 19th century. The land for many years had been occupied by a quaint tavern and horse changing station.
Franconi’s Hippodrome- Fifth Avenue 23rd -24th Streets (click to enlarge)
On this site in March 1853, Henri Franconi, a European from a long line of equestrian performers, arranged with investors to have an amphitheater built which was then called Franconi’s Hippodrome. This precursor of the modern day circus with performers, animals and chariot races was housed in a large structure shaped like an ellipse and was 338 feet by 196 1/2 feet that could seat 10,000 people and was covered by a red, white and blue canvas supported by a center pole 70 feet in height and a circle of smaller poles 40 feet in height.
It opened on Monday, May 2, 1853, and The New York Daily Times was not impressed with the class of people attending the Hippodrome shows. Attendees they said “…were blacklegs, gamblers, rowdies, and the miscellanea of polite roguery and blackguardism.” The reporter added “The Hippodrome is badly conducted and Continue reading →
Girls Chase A Boy to Give Him Birthday Kisses… and He Dies
Woodlawn Cemetery Is The Final Resting Place of George Spencer Millet Who Had One Of The Strangest Deaths In New York’s History
There is a book called Woodlawn Remembers: Cemetery of American History by Edward F. Bergman (North County Books, 1988.) The book is mostly comprised of beautiful full page color and black & white photographs of monuments, tombstones and mausoleums with one page of text describing each person profiled. The cemetery is located in the northern part of the Bronx and is on my shortlist of unusual places I recommend to visit in New York.
The book is fascinating to be sure. It covers many of the interesting and important historical figures at Woodlawn. But one story not mentioned, is the life and death of George Spencer Millet (misspelled as George Millitt by The New York Times in the story at the end of this article) who is interred at the cemetery.
Millet’s story is briefly recounted in Permanent New Yorkers A Biographical Guide To The Cemeteries of New York by Judi Culbertson and Tom Randall (Chelsea Green 1987.) This book contains photographs too, but has more detailed biographies than Woodlawn Remembers. Permanent New Yorkers also covers the entire New York area, not just focusing on the two most famous New York City cemeteries, Woodlawn and Greenwood. I highly recommend both of these out-of-print books.
It was February 15, 1909 and Millet must have been a very good looking boy, because when the girls he worked with at The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company found out that it was his 15th birthday, they all insisted on giving him a kiss. Continue reading →