Tag Archives: Real Estate

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 #40

A 1920’s View Of Lower Manhattan Looking Northeast From The Now Closed Woolworth Building Observation Deck

Lower Manhattan from Wooloworth building Observatory 1920s

A tourist in the early 1920’s took this panoramic view of lower Manhattan from a place that is currently off-limits to the general public, the observation deck of the Woolworth Building. The visitors observation deck was shut down in 1941 right before the United States entry into World War II, when the Navy ordered it closed because it offered too good a view of ships in the harbor. Recently even the Woolworth Building lobby was declared off-limits to anyone wanting a view inside of the ornamental entrance.

Woolworth Building 1913

Woolworth Building 1913

From this vantage point we can see from right to left the Brooklyn Bridge, the East River, the Manhattan Bridge and in the hazy distance the Williamsburg Bridge. Spread across the lower east side are an array of many small buildings, with a couple of exceptions, most notably the tower of the New York City Municipal Building, which can be partially seen on the extreme left in the foreground.

When it was completed in 1913, the 792 foot tall Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway was the tallest building in the world and retained that title until the Chrysler Building usurped it in 1929. Depending upon your source and how you are counting the Woolworth Building contains anywhere between 55 – 60 floors.

For the admission fee of 50¢, visitors could get an incredible view of the surrounding metropolitan area from its observation deck. The tour book the building Continue reading

Notorious Crime Scene Property Is For Sale

In Back Of This House One Of The Most Horrendous Killings In New York History Occurred

Westchester Home For Sale in 2014. In the 1930's the home was known as Wisteria House. photo: HGMLS

Westchester Home For Sale in 2014. In the 1930’s the home was known as Wisteria House. photo: HGMLS

You may or may not believe that houses have vibes, memories or energies surrounding them. But regardless of your beliefs, would you want to live on a property where a serial killer committed a murder so horrific that the police did not initially believe the details of the confession?

Albert Fish Crime Scene 1934 - Investigators check over a doll's wig, women's shoes and a man's suit , found near the deserted Westchester home where Albert Fish murdered Grace Budd. photo: Daily News

Albert Fish Crime Scene 1934 – Investigators check over a doll’s wig, women’s shoes and a man’s suit , found near the deserted Westchester home where Albert Fish murdered Grace Budd. photo: Daily News

In a bucolic town in Westchester, NY, you can buy the three acre property where serial killer Albert Fish took and brutally killed ten-year-old Grace Budd on June 3, 1928.

Discovering a ramshackle cottage in the glades behind Wisteria House, where Albert Fish, confessed to murdering Grace Budd, police are dismantling the old structure, and digging methodically the ground surrounding it in a search for bones of possible other victims. The house are at Greenberg, N.Y. Photo shows the small cottage also occupied by Albert Fish. 1934

Discovering a ramshackle cottage in the glades behind Wisteria House, where Albert Fish, confessed to murdering Grace Budd, police are dismantling the old structure, and digging methodically the ground surrounding it in a search for bones of possible other victims. The house are at Greenberg, N.Y. Photo shows the small cottage also occupied by Albert Fish. 1934

Asking price – $799,900.

The home shown in the contemporary photograph above and in the vintage news photograph on the left was once known as Wisteria House, an 1860 villa in what was once Greenburgh, NY, and is now part of the town of Irvington.

Obviously the real estate agent listing the home will not advertise the fact, that on this property right behind the old home was where Wisteria Cottage stood (shown in photo to the right). This is where Albert Fish strangled, dismembered and later, at his own home, ate Grace Budd.

To say Albert Fish was one of the most heinous people who ever walked the earth would be an understatement.

Reading Fish’s life story is to uncover the debaucheries of a real life Hannibal Lecter as described in Silence of the Lambs. Continue reading

Life In 1909 – Random News And Advertising

What Was Happening On January 21, 1909

I picked a random day 103 years ago to see what was in the news. I read the entire New York Times newspaper for Thursday, January 21, 1909 to come up with the some interesting stories and unusual items.  The paper was only 18 pages! The major differences compared to current newspapers: few photographs accompany any story and  articles of different types are interspersed on the same page, so the news is not sectioned by category.  I have put the article summary in blue and my comments are in black italics.

Crowds flocked to the Auto Show at Madison Square Garden. Lots of famous people showed up including Colonel John Jacob Astor and Mr. & Mrs. George J. Gould. There was a selection in gasoline powered and electric cars on display.

Not many people realize that in the early days of automobile manufacturing gasoline and electric cars were battling for market share. Steam cars were also an option, but were left unmentioned in the article.  Before 1909 over 600 companies in the United States had at one time started manufacturing automobiles and half of them had already run out of business.  An estimated 200,000 automobiles were in use in the United States according to the  Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. What would our current energy situation be like today had the electric car won the battle for vehicular supremacy over the gasoline powered engine?

An advertisement for Renault showed they led all automobile companies in US imports with 214 in 1907 and 244 in 1908.

The runner-up for sales in each year (by half as much) were in order: Mercedes, Fiat and Panhard?!

The Conference Committee of the Independent Telephone Officers to meet the following week on plans to build a long distance telephone line from Boston to Omaha. The cost: $5,000,000 immediate expenditure and $30,000,000 over the next four years! Continue reading

The Garage Antique Flea Market Closing (Make That – Closed)

Famous Chelsea Flea Market Hub To Close And A History of The Chelsea Area Flea Markets (see update)

UPDATE November 2014: The flea market has finally closed three years after we reported the imminent closing and demolition is underway. The remaining outdoor flea market on 25th Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway charges $1 admission for a sub-par experience.  Below the update is our original story on the history of the flea markets in the Sixth Avenue corridor.

UPDATE December 24, 2011: The flea market thankfully remains open. Dealers don’t seem to know what the future holds. Speaking to several exhibitors they have not been told how long they will remain. So keep your fingers crossed, maybe Extell will not build until market conditions improve.

According to a dealer at The Antiques Garage at 112 West 25th Street, the last stalwart of what was once a thriving antique center in Chelsea, is closing in the near future.

The Antiques Garage which has over 100 dealers selling all sorts of merchandise every Saturday and Sunday will be torn down and replaced by a hotel and condos.  The developer, Extell Realty bought the garage in 2006 for $42.7 million.  The dealers who exhibit have been told that Extell will soon begin demolition and this month is to be their last.

In the mid 1980’s the parking lots and vacant lots in Manhattan from 24th to 27th Streets, just east and west of 6th Avenue, had developed into a weekend cornucopia of junk and treasure. Lower end antique dealers, second hand junk collectors, and abandoned storage unit scavengers set up shop, providing the public with endless browsing and purchasing opportunities. You could find everything from mundane items to rare and valuable objects. Continue reading

The Cost of Living in Manhattan Apartments – 1926

The Prices of Fancy New York  Apartments and Where You Could Live on a Decent Salary

As I continue to look through the Sunday October 10, 1926 New York Times real estate section, I wanted to get a better understanding of what a dollar could buy when it came to apartments.

First I did some income research.

According to FRASER (the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research) , a little over 4 million individual tax returns were filed in 1926.

The average net income on those returns was $5,306.43.

The average amount of tax liability was – get this – only $176.11!

So you might think that everyone was doing Continue reading

The Most Pretentious Home

How To Advertise a House – 1926 Style

This is an ad from a copy of the October 10, 1926 Sunday New York Times. An odd choice of words to sell a home.

Larchmont is a wealthy suburb 25 miles north of New York City.

This ad has me pondering numerous questions:

I wonder if this home sold quickly because the H.M. Williams copywriting team knew the word  “pretentious” would appeal to that special, up and coming snob who wanted to live in a pretentious home?

Even in 1926 wasn’t it demeaning if you admitted that you lived in the most pretentious home in Larchmont? Maybe it was bad, only if other people said it about you or your home?

If this house still exists in 2011, do the current owners know how it was once advertised?

Does anyone out there from Larchmont recognize the house and if so can you drop us a line with the street address?