Tag Archives: New York World

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 constructed between 1882-84, and 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

A Forgotten 1915 Brooklyn Tragedy: Four Boys Die In An Accident, Shattering Two Families Forever

Two Pairs of Brothers, Together In Life And Death

100th Anniversary Of The Forgotten Brooklyn Explosion That Killed Two Sets Of Young Brothers

While wandering the bucolic grounds of the Evergreens Cemetery on the Brooklyn – Queens border you come across many interesting monuments. There are Triangle shirtwaist fire victims, General Slocum memorials and many historic notables. And then there are the monuments like this one that are inexplicable on first inspection.

Zimmer inscription monument

Zimmer inscription monument

Higgins inscription monument

Higgins inscription monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two sets of brothers each between 7 and 11-years-old all dying on March 13, 1915 and are buried together. This unique memorial has an angel, with a few fingers and toes missing, head bowed in sorrow, standing between the two columns that are connected at the top by a triangular stone with the Gospel of Luke quotation inscribed across it, “Suffer Little Children To Come Unto Me”.

Oil Explosion kills boys March 13 1915 memorial at Evergreens cemeteryMy first thought was that the boys were probably cousins or related in some other way and died in a house fire.

But checking the news accounts from the following days reveals a senseless tragedy of two unrelated families children just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Zimmer boys, Henry age 11 and Herbert age 7, of 186 Warwick Street and the Higgins boys, Alex age 11 and Arthur age 8 of 174 Warwick Street were close friends and neighbors growing up a few doors from each other. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #44 – Western Union Building & The Day It Caught Fire

Western Union Telegraph Building – 1880

Broadway looking south Western Union Building 1880This view looking south on Broadway was taken from the Old Post Office in 1880 and shows a deserted stretch of the usually traffic clogged thoroughfare.

On the left in the foreground is the New York Herald Building. The building partially seen on the right side is the Astor House Hotel. Adjacent to the Astor with the columns is St. Paul’s Chapel. The tall structure further down Broadway is Trinity Church with its spire rising 281 feet. This was the highest point in New York until the World Building was built in 1890.

The main building dominating the photo at the corner of Broadway and Dey Street is the Western Union Telegraph Building designed by architect George B. Post. At 230 feet, it was one of the tallest commercial buildings in the city when it was built from 1872-1875. To put this tremendous height in perspective, this was four times the height of the average New York building. On top of the building’s flagstaff a time ball was perched which would drop precisely at noon, so everyone in the surrounding financial area could set their watch to the correct time.

The telegraph was still the predominant way to get a message to someone quickly. To send a telegram with the body message being ten words or less from New York to Baltimore or Boston cost 25¢; to Chicago 40¢ and to San Francisco $1.00.

Western Union Building Fire - New York Evening World

Western Union Building Fire – New York Evening World

A Fire Destroys The Building

As the night shift of telegraph operators and workers was letting out at 6:55 a.m. on Friday, July 18, 1890 the Western Union Building caught fire.

The fire broke out on the 6th floor and quickly spread to the upper floors. Firefighters arrived within six minutes of the first alarm being turned in.

The fire was far above the roof lines of the adjacent buildings and the water pressure from street level could not possibly come close to the fire. The firemen strung several hoses together and carried them up  into nearby buildings on to the roofs to fight the flames.

20,000 people watched from the surrounding streets as the firemen placed ladders from the adjacent building at 8 Dey Street to rescue people trapped in the Western Union Building and pour water on to the upper floors. Continue reading

The Ninth Avenue Elevated Train Crash Of 1905

 In 1905, The Worst Elevated Train Accident In New York’s History Occurred

9th ave elevated railway accident 9 11 1905 postcard photo R Weigel

For as long as you live September 11 will be remembered as the date of  the terrorist attacks on America that brought down the World Trade Center towers. But before 2001,  9/11 marked the anniversary of the worst elevated train disaster in New York’s history. It is a disaster no one wanted to remember and was quickly forgotten except by train and New York history buffs.

The four elevated lines in Manhattan which had a glorious history are long gone, demolished between 1938 and 1955. The elevated lines began service in 1878 and until the subway was built, they provided the quickest and safest routes around New York.

9th Ave 53rd Street junction photo via -  http://warofyesterday.blogspot.com

9th Ave 53rd Street elevated junction
photo via – http://warofyesterday.blogspot.com

But there were always fears among riders that one day an elevated train would jump the tracks.

Those fears came true on September 11, 1905.

Not surprisingly it happened at one of the more dangerous stretches of track along the elevated system.

The Sixth and Ninth Avenue Elevated lines shared their tracks above 53rd Street along Ninth Avenue. At 53rd Street the lines diverged, with the Sixth Avenue el traveling three avenues east along 53rd Street to continue its journey along Sixth Avenue.

At that Ninth Avenue junction, the towerman (also called switchman) was responsible for controlling whether trains traveling downtown would continue straight on the Ninth Avenue line or go along 53rd Street to the Sixth Avenue line.

The passengers aboard a five car “el” train that September 11 morning believed their train was going to continue straight down Ninth Avenue, as that was what the station guards at the previous station at 59th Street had told them.

If the train was proceeding down Sixth Avenue it was supposed to come to a full stop at 54th street and await a signal. The recommended maximum speed if a train was to continue down Ninth Avenue was nine miles per hour.

Diagram of Ninth Avenue El crash

Diagram of Ninth Avenue El crash (click to enlarge)

It was 7:05 in the morning as Paul Kelly, the motorman of the el train approached the intersection at 53rd street without stopping.

Witnesses said Kelly slowed down a bit but the train’s estimated speed was 25 miles per hour. Continue reading

While Touring With A Friend, A New Yorker Finds Her Missing Brother – 1905

Places A Tourist Should Go in 1905?

Bellevue And The Morgue.

1st Ave. 26th Bellevue Hospital postcard circa 1912

Visiting New York City today there are things that most tourists go and see. Typical touristy places include The Empire State Building, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty . A hundred years ago you might be surprised at what sights people would go and visit. In 1905 for one New Yorker, accompanying a visiting friend to Bellevue and visiting the morgue seemed like an interesting, if not macabre way to spend the day.

They say truth is stranger than fiction, so we’ll let The New York Evening World of September 11, 1905 pick up the rest of this strange story:

SAW PICTURE AT MORGUE OF DEAD BROTHER

Miss Magner, Showing a Friend the Sights, Identifies Photograph.

This isn’t a very big world since the railroad, the telegraph and the telephone annihilated distances, but here is the strange story of what happened at the points of a triangle with sides only a mile long.

On Feb. 26, 1904, the body of a young man was found on the doors of No. 269 Ninth Avenue, dead. No one knew him. At the morgue the body was photographed and a complete description taken. The breast and arms were tattooed with the form of a woman, the emblems of Faith, Hope and Charity and the initials “J.M.”

After a few days the unidentified body was burled In Potter’s Field, where it has lain for nineteen months. Last Saturday Miss Laura Magner, of No. 354 West Forty-sixth Street, who was entertaining a visiting friend from out-of-town, took him to see Bellevue Hospital and the Morgue.

Continue reading

The 1904 General Slocum Disaster Had Survivors That Lived Into The 21st Century

Catherine Connelly & Adella Wotherspoon, General Slocum Survivors, Lived To Ages 109 & 100

The Story of The General Slocum Steamship Disaster

General Slocum Disaster

June 15, 2014 marks the 110th anniversary of what had been New York’s biggest disaster and loss of life until the September 11 attacks occurred. We think it is worth remembering the ill-fated General Slocum steamship fire. Here is the story of the General Slocum and  a brief summary of the lives of the last two survivors of the disaster who amazingly lived into the 21st century.

A Beautiful Day For A Picnic

“Kleindeutchland,” as the area of Little Germany was called on the lower east side, was bounded approximately by the East River and Third Avenue and stretched from Houston Street to about 23rd Street. It was a working class, close-knit community of laborers and business owners. The German families that lived in this neighborhood made Tompkins Square Park their center for congregating and relaxation. But for special occasions they would embark on a trip to get out of the city.

Wednesday, June 15, 1904 was a sunny day and the members of the Sunday School of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at 323 E. 6th Street were looking forward to a day filled with games, music and a large picnic for their 17th annual excursion to bucolic Locust Grove, Long Island.

To get there, the church had chartered a steamship built in 1891, the three decked white paddle-wheeler, General Slocum.

Sudden Disaster

New York Tribune June 16, 1904 (click to enlarge)

New York Tribune June 16, 1904 (click to enlarge)

The General Slocum was filled with around 1,400 passengers, mostly women and children as the men generally had to work on a weekday. The Slocum headed out from its berth at 3rd Street on the East River at about 9:30 am with a band playing and the passengers joyously celebrating the smooth ride and beautiful weather.

Thirty minutes after setting out, the ship caught fire Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #35

Snow Removal In New York 1908

Looking south from Fourth Avenue & 15th Street on the east side of Union Square horse carts remove piles of snow - January 25, 1908 (photos LOC)

Looking south from 4th Avenue & 15th Street on the east side of Union Square horse carts remove piles of snow – January 25, 1908 (all photos Library of Congress)

While some people were complaining about the lack of snow removal in New York City this past week, it makes you realize how dependent we are on mechanized snowplows.

One hundred six years ago today, a major snowstorm similar to this past week’s storm, hit New York City on January 24, 1908 and dumped over ten inches of snow in New York and 35 mile per hour gusts of wind had some snowdrifts pile up from six to ten feet.

During the snowstorm near 9 East 14th Street - January 24, 1908

During the snowstorm by 9 E. 14th Street – January 24, 1908

The snow began the night of January 23 and continued until the afternoon of the 24th. The temperature never dipped below 22 degrees, but it was still miserable for commuters trying to get around town.

According to the New York Tribune, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sent men around to spread sand over the streets to prevent horses from falling. Unfortunately they only could get to a handful of spots and horses slipped and fell in heaps all over the city. The human toll from the storm was four deaths and thirteen injuries directly attributable to the severe weather.

The scene in front of Everett House 17th Street north side of Union Square January 25, 1908

The scene in front of Everett House 17th Street north side of Union Square January 25, 1908

All of the snow had to be removed by manual labor. And when the city put out notices that men were needed for temporary work to remove the snow with shovels, over 30,000 men applied.

Men shoveling snow in front of Everett House 17th Street north side of Union Square January 25, 1908

Men shoveling snow in front of Everett House 17th Street north side of Union Square January 25, 1908

At one recruiting station, the United Charities Building on East 3rd Street, 100 men were needed and 3,000 showed up. The police had to be called Continue reading

Wife Hit Him Over The Head With A Gas Lighter

Why You Might File For Divorce In 1914

Early 20th Century Gas Lighter -OUCH. photo  http://wordcraft.net/flashlight.html

Early 20th Century Gas Lighter -OUCH. photo: http://wordcraft.net
/flashlight.html

One hundred years ago if you got married, it was a commitment for  life. Very few people got divorced. If you did file for divorce, there had to be a good reason. If your spouse hit you in the head with a metal gas lighter that might be enough to justify splitting up.

Salesman and professional musician Sidney Kamna of 1139 Forrest Avenue in the Bronx was very specific about why he wanted a separation from his wife of 15 years, Wilhelmina. In fact, the head whacking was just one of ten good reasons to get out of the marriage  according to Sidney.

Appearing on January 6, 1914 in New York State Supreme Court before future Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Benjamin Cardozo, Sidney explained his unhappy circumstances.

All was well in the marriage until Christmas day 1910 when his wife’s sister received a genuine sealskin coat from her husband.

Wilhelmina was bitterly disappointed that Sidney had not gotten her a similar present. From that moment on Wilhelmina began treating Sidney badly for the next three years until he filed for divorce.

The bad treatment was quantified in court as a ten point list:

1. She scolded him because her sister-in-laws husband gave a fur coat to his wife.

2. She bent a gas lighter over his head.

3. She threatened to kill herself and her daughter, ten tears old. Continue reading

When The New York City Subway Opened On October 27, 1904

20 Cool Facts About The New York City Subway When It Was Brand New

"What The Subway Means To New York City" New York Evening World October 27, 1904 (click to enlarge)

“What The Subway Means To New York” New York Evening World October 27, 1904 (click to enlarge)

109 years ago on October 27, 1904, the New York City Subway was opened to an enthusiastic public with great fanfare and accolades.

New Yorker’s were proud of this engineering sensation and its features were highlighted in newspapers and magazines around the world.

On the occasion of the opening, the New York Evening World published a “Subway Souvenir Special” to commemorate the event. With articles describing many aspects of the subway, the special issue compiled a list of 100 facts about the subway. Here are some of the better ones:

1. In 1894 the people of New York voted to create a tunnel for a subway which was to be owned by the city. After six years of preliminary work by the Rapid Transit Commission, bids were accepted to build and operate the subway on November 15, 1899.

2. Only two companies bid for the job. John B. McDonald and the Onderdonk Construction Company. McDonald’s bid was accepted January 15, 1900.

3. McDonald proposed to construct the tunnels for $35 million with an additional $2,750,000 for station sites, terminals and other incidentals.

4. The money for the construction was loaned by the city. It was to be paid back with interest in fifty years.

5. McDonald organized a construction company with August Belmont as its president. Another company within this company, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) was organized to operate the subway.

6. The IRT had the privilege of operating the system for 50 years, with an option for a 25 year renewal. When the subway passed into the hands of the people, the equipment was to be purchased by the city at a valuation to be determined by arbitration.

7. McDonald sublet the construction to thirteen sub-contractors. Ground was broken March 25, 1900 in front of City Hall.

8. McDonald pledged to have the subway ready in four and a half years. The actual time spent on construction was only 1275 days.

9. The final amount spent was just $40 million.

Union Square June 8, 1901 Subway Construction

Union Square June 8, 1901 Subway Construction

10. There were 120 lives lost during the construction. Continue reading

Old Time Ads From The 1910 World Almanac – Part 2

More Interesting Ads From The 1910 World Almanac

1910 World Almanac Cover P1060720

We continue our look at the 1910 World Almanac And Encyclopedia’s advertising.

The New York World newspaper used their annual publication of the Almanac as a way to advertise their own newspaper.

1910 World Almanac Why the World P10607351910 World Almanac Subscribe to the World P1060734Why should you read The World?

There are seven good reasons according to the ad.

Considering almost every newspaper in the country had a political bias, The World claimed they were independent in politics. Another chief reason to read The World is that they were indefatigable in gathering news. As proof of their superiority, The World boasted they had more than twice the circulation of any other morning newspaper in New York.

A separate ad for Almanac readers to consider subscribing to The New York Sunday World stated that they were simply the best at everything, whether it be news, editorials, writers, humor etc. The annual cost for a subscription was $2.50.

1910 World Almanac Acme Fire Extinguisher P1060728A fire extinguisher was a necessity few could afford in 1910. Offered here straight out of a Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, comes the “Acme” Fire Extinguisher.

1910 World Almanac Baldness P1060751William Charles Keene, president of the Lorrimer Institute asks in his ad, “No More Bald Heads? Baltimore Specialist Says Baldness Is Unnecessary And Proves It.”

Of course it is not true. Continue reading