Tag Archives: Fifth Avenue

Old New York In Photos #146 – The Plaza Hotel With Interior Views 1909

The New Plaza Hotel And The Suite Of John W. “Bet A Million” Gates- 1909

This real photo postcard by Thaddeus Wilkerson shows the new Plaza Hotel. The hotel towers above its neighbors offering its guests terrific views of the city and the park. We are looking southwest from the Hotel Netherland on 60th Street and Fifth Avenue. The southern boundary of Central Park at 59th Street is on the right and on the extreme left is a portion of the Vanderbilt mansion on Fifth Ave and 58th Street.

The original Plaza Hotel on the same site was opened in 1890 and demolished in 1905.  The new Henry Hardenbergh designed Plaza Hotel was much larger than its predecessor.

The original estimate to buy the site, raze the old hotel and build the new hotel was Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #27 – The 10 Tallest Buildings In 1939

Skyscraper Race – The 10 Tallest Buildings In New York City In 1939

When the Park Row Building was completed in 1899, the 31 story office building was the highest in New York and the world at 382 feet. Less than seven years later it was no longer the tallest, with the Singer Building soaring 211 feet higher than the Park Row.

Today the Park Row Building, converted to residences, is not even among the 100 tallest buildings in New York. And the Singer Building was demolished over 55 years ago.

The constant desire by developers to top one another has continued and accelerated in the past dozen years.

The skyline is being overtaken by mostly nondescript glass boxes dwarfing other buildings and eclipsing many of the classic New York skyscrapers.

As of 2022 the ten tallest buildings in New York are:

Rank   Name                                 Height Stories Year Completed Address
1         One World Trade Center 1,776    94        2014                     285 Fulton Street
2         Central Park Tower          1,550     99        2021                     225 West 57th Street
3         111 West 57th Street       1,428     85        2022                     111 West 57th Street
4         One Vanderbilt                 1,401      73       2020                      1 Vanderbilt Avenue
5         432 Park Avenue              1,397      85       2015                      432 Park Avenue
6         30 Hudson Yards              1,270     103     2019                      500 West 33rd Street
7         Empire State Building      1,250     102     1931                      350 Fifth Avenue
8         Bank of America Tower   1,200       55      2009                     1101 Sixth Avenue
9         3 World Trade Center      1,079       69      2018                      175 Greenwich Street
10       The Brooklyn Tower         1,073       73      2022                      9 DeKalb Avenue (Brooklyn)

Recently looking at the 1939 World Almanac there was a list of the tallest buildings in New York.

Here are the top ten from that list-

All heights listed are the Almanac’s figures which may differ from modern estimates.

1. The Empire State Building is located on the site of the original Continue reading

1858 NYC Real Estate Sales Literature – For Sale 5th Avenue & 42nd Street

Selling 5th Avenue & 42nd Street In 1858 For “Moderate Terms”

From Its Windows One Could See The Hudson and East Rivers, Staten Island, Long Island, The Palisades and Westchester!

Fifth Avenue dwellings for sale 1858

This Gothic style structure stood on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The view is from an 1858 real estate advertising broadside print. On the southwest corner you can see a portion of the retaining wall of the massive Croton Distributing Reservoir which supplied New York’s drinking water. The main branch of the New York Public Library now occupies the site of the reservoir.

5th Ave and 42nd St. 1855 before construction of The House of Mansions. Croton Distributing Reservoir is on the right.

Though the structure appears to be one large building, it is actually 11 separate buildings. It was nicknamed The House of Mansions.

The buildings were designed by famed architect Alexander Jackson Davis and built by merchant George Higgins in 1856 as a speculative real estate investment. The buildings boasted  amazing views of distant vistas including Long Island, the Palisades and Westchester. Continue reading

Dignity For A Little Girl Killed By A Truck – 1904

Three-Year-Old Nettie Delaney Dies In A Horrific Accident & A Homeless Man Performs A Selfless Gesture – 1904

A kind act can transcend time. When researching our previous story about Times Square this tragic, but touching story was found.

Combining accounts from The New York Tribune, The New York Herald and The New York Times, this is what happened on August 31, 1904:

POOR, BUT A GENTLEMAN
With His Only Coat He Taught the Morbid a Lesson.

Nettie Delaney, three and a half years old, of 14 West One Hundred and Thirty-Third Street, was run over and killed almost in front of her own home yesterday afternoon by a horse drawn heavy truck carrying stone. Continue reading

The 1910 Vanishing Of Dorothy Arnold – Part 2

After Dorothy Arnold Vanished In New York City

The Mysteries of The Paramour, The Manuscripts & Her Family’s Strange Behavior

The Theories On Her Disappearance

Today we conclude the story of one of New York City’s greatest unsolved missing person cases. At the end of part one of the story, on December 12, 1910, Dorothy Arnold said goodbye to Gladys King, an acquaintance she had bumped into on Fifth Avenue. Gladys was the last person to see Dorothy Arnold alive.

From They Never Came Back by Allen Churchill (Crime Club, 1960) is part two of The Girl Who Never Came Back.

Dorothy Arnold St Louis Post Dispatch Jan 29 1911Return now to the Arnold home. Never had the well-brought-up Dorothy skipped a meal without warning the family ahead of time. Now when she failed to return for dinner an increasingly worried group ate without her, then began making discreet phone calls to Dorothy’s close friends asking if the girl had dropped in on them. Told she had not, the Arnolds begged that no mention ever be made of the phone call. Later they asked the same girls not to discuss the case with reporters, and it is indicative of the vast difference between society girls then and now that none of the girls ever did. Continue reading

The Vanishing Of Dorothy Arnold. One Of New York’s All-Time Great Mysteries – Part 1

110 Years Ago Today, Wealthy Dorothy Arnold Went For A Walk In Midtown New York & Vanished Forever

Murder? Suicide? Kidnapping? Or Run Away & Start A New Life?

The Strange Disappearance of A Young Woman Who Seemingly Had Everything….Including A Secret Life

Part One

In the annals of missing person cases few are as baffling as Dorothy Arnold.

Time has erased the Dorothy Arnold case from the public’s memory. But for decades, Dorothy Arnold’s disappearance ranked among the most speculated of mysteries in New York’s history.

Dorothy Arnold disappeared on December 12, 1910 after leaving her house to go for a walk and do some shopping in midtown Manhattan. To make finding her whereabouts more complicated a report that she was missing was not filed with police until weeks after her disappearance. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #116 – Fifth Avenue & 27th Street 1903

Fifth Avenue Between 26th & 27th Street – The Old Hotel Brunswick

5th Avenue 27th Street 1903 photo Detroit Publishing CoA Detroit Publishing Co. photographer got this shot on a rare day without any traffic. Every building seen here is soon to be demolished.

The Hotel Brunswick

This photograph shows the east side of Fifth Avenue from 27th to 26th Street in 1903. Continue reading

New York Illustrated – As It Was 150 Years Ago – Part II

More New York Illustrations From Around 1870

Part II – Familiar Names – Vanished Sites

New York And Its Institutions book cover 1871We continue our look at New York of 150 years ago from Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871).

The names may be familiar, but possibly not the building or site.

While Central Park has remained a constant presence in New York City for over 160 years, it has constantly changed.

There were always developers looking to infringe upon the park with buildings and schemes. A fair portion of Central Park has managed to keep its original spirit, but many of its early additions have changed or no longer exist.

 Central Park

Children's playground Central Park 1870 playing baseballThe Children’s Playground in Central Park. There was no “Great Lawn” when Central Park was built. The Great Lawn opened in 1937, the result of filling in one of the two receiving reservoirs located within the park. The Central Park Playground seen above is an open field where children can play within its great expanse. This section was located in the southern end of the park, now site of the Heckscher playground and ballfields. Continue reading

New York Illustrated – As It Was 150 Years Ago – Part I

Illustrations Of New York As Seen By Artists Around 1870

Part I – Demolished & Mostly Forgotten

Intersection Fifth Ave and Broadway at 23rd St looking north 1870

Intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue looking north towards the Worth Monument with The Fifth Avenue Hotel on the left (c. 1870)

Demolition of anything old  goes on every day without regard for New York’s history. I believe a day will come when all the pre-20th century buildings not given landmark protection will be gone. Demolished in the name of progress. Real estate values rule, not history values. That’s always been the way of New York.

When a historic structure like The St. Denis Hotel is obliterated instead of renovated it is a shame.

I see more and more ordinary tenement and commercial buildings falling at an astonishing rate. So I look around trying to see vestiges of things my great-grandparents might have known and been familiar with.

What did they see?

Recently I took out my copy of Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871) and started to re-read it. I had forgotten how many excellent illustrations were in the book. Belying the name, New York and Its Institutions is not solely focused only upon hospitals, asylum, charity and worship facilities. The book thoroughly covers other important sites and buildings with their respective histories. Though it was not written as a guide book, it essentially is one.

What my ancestors saw were these historic buildings which are now not even memories to most New Yorkers, most having been taken down over a hundred years ago,

Let’s take a look at what New York City looked like around 1871 and take in what the visitor and native New Yorker would have seen.

Part I – Buildings No Longer In Existence

Very few lamented the loss of the old Post Office at the corner of Nassau and Liberty Street – — until they saw what replaced it in 1875.

The modest Police Department headquarters at 300 Mulberry Street was replaced in 1909 by a grand structure on Broome and Centre Streets.

Wilson's industrial school for girls 1870 new york Wilson’s Mission House or Industrial School For Girls at 27-29 Avenue A corner of St. Mark’s Place across from Tompkins Square Park.

Broadway Grand Central Hotel 1870The Grand Central Hotel stood on the west side of Broadway opposite Bond Street between Amity and Bleecker Street. Illegal alterations caused a major collapse of the Broadway facade  on August 3, 1973. Incredibly only four people were killed. The remaining section of the hotel was soon demolished. Continue reading

Book Review – The Finest Building In America The New York Crystal Palace

The New York Crystal Palace Gave Americans A Building To Be Proud Of

burrows finest building in americaOn the site of the future Bryant Park on 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues stood The New York Crystal Palace. It was only there for a little more than five years. Built of cast iron, timber and glass the building was unlike anything previously built in America.

Edwin G. Burrows book, “The Finest Building in America The New York Crystal Palace 1853-1858” Oxford; (2018), is a short, entertaining account of the impact the building and the wonders displayed inside, had on the city. Continue reading