Tag Archives: McKim Mead & White

Old New York In Photos #119 – View From The Roof Of The Flatiron Building c. 1910

The View From The Roof Of The Flatiron Building c. 1910

Madison Square From Flatiron Building Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at RiversideNew York photographers around the turn-of-the-century were always looking for unique vantage points to shoot from.

Here the Keystone Co. photographer went up to the roof of the Flatiron Building and took this shot around 1910. The gentleman in the foreground could be the photographer’s assistant. As the intrepid hatless man dangles his legs over the edge of the roof, we see the northeast cityscape.

A Good View Of The Buildings Along Lower Madison Avenue

In the foreground the trees of Madison Square Park can be seen. To the extreme right on Madison Avenue is the Metropolitan Life Building, the tallest building in the world from 1909-1913.

Next in our photo the building with the dome is the new Madison Square Presbyterian Church.

Metropolitan Life acquired the original Madison Square Presbyterian Church on the southeast corner of 24th Street in 1903 intending to build their new skyscraper Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #118 – Herald Square At Night

Herald Square At Night – 1912

This beautiful night scene of Herald Square was taken in 1912. The Herald Building between 35th & 36th Street and Broadway and Sixth Avenue is brilliantly illuminated as the presses work to get the next morning’s paper out.

Lining the roof of the McKim, Mead & White designed Herald Building are 20 gilt owl sculptures. Electricity would light up the owl’s green eyes. The two illegible lighted discs in the front of the building are a clock and wind dial.

Bennett Monument drawing sculptor Andrew O'Connor viaNY Times 1918Herald owner James Gordon Bennett Jr., was obsessed with owls. Continue reading

New York Holds A Party For George Washington In 1889

 New York Celebrates The Washington Centennial 1889

Washington Centennial 1889 Union Square

Horse drawn floats make their way through Union Square celebrating the Washington Centennial in New York City May 1, 1889 – illustration Harper’s Weekly May 11, 1889

For the first year and a half while President, George  Washington was a New Yorker. Washington took the oath of office in New York City in 1789 and lived at 3 Cherry Street during his Presidency until 1790 when he moved to Philadelphia. Vice -President John Adams lived at 133 Broadway. Congress met in New York and the city was the center of the Federal government. Continue reading

It’s True, A Group Wants To Entirely Rebuild The Original Penn Station

A Serious Proposal To Rebuild The Original Penn Station

New Main Waiting Room Penn Station Credit: Jeff Stikeman for Rebuild Penn Station.

The National Civic Art Society has developed a plan to entirely rebuild the original Penn Station.

The biggest and most obvious hurdle to accomplishing the Society’s plan would be demolishing the many buildings that currently stand on the site including Madison Square Garden and a 34 story office building. Then the next question arises: who would fund such an enterprise?

As crazy as all this sounds, the actual rebuilding plan sounds feasible. You would just need all the corrupt politicians and greedy real estate entities to cooperate. That will almost certainly not occur.

But that doesn’t stop one from hoping. The organizers have an executable plan and want to drum up support among the public. Here is the opening statement from their website rebuildpennstation.org

New York City’s original Penn Station was one of the finest buildings ever constructed. With its vast main hall and soaring concourse, it provided a triumphant gateway into the city. Its demolition in 1963 was one of the greatest architectural and civic crimes in American history.

That wrong is all the worse given the current station, which is cramped, dismal, and hard to navigate. As the historian Vincent Scully said about the original station, “One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat.”

We aim to reconstruct the original station to return it to its former glory. Click here to join our cause.

The video the Society produced explains more.

As the rebuild Penn Station group pointed out, New York’s greatest architectural loss occurred 54 years ago.

On October 28, 1963 the demolition of Penn Station began and three years later the majestic station was gone, its marble and debris trucked out in pieces to the New Jersey Meadowlands and used as landfill.

Trains still go in and out of Penn Station. But the Penn Station that replaced the original has nothing in common with the original but the name.

Main Post Office completed 1912 photo: Underhill

Directly across from the original Penn Station between 31st to 33rd Streets and Continue reading

Who Was Appearing At The Madison Square Garden Theatre 116 Years Ago Today

December 17, 1900 The Great Sarah Bernhardt Was Appearing At The Madison Square Garden Theatre

madison-square-garden-theatre-program-dec-17-1900-coverMadison Square Garden was the center of entertainment for wealthy New Yorkers in the late 19th and early 20th century. Occupying the entire block between Park and Madison Avenues from 26th to 27th Streets, the Garden Theatre was the work of architects McKim, Mead and White.

Program for week of December 17, 1900 at Madiison Square Garden

Program for week of December 17, 1900 at Madiison Square Garden

The Garden Theatre featured the most famous stars of the day and 100 years ago today, you could have seen the fabulous French star Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) during her “farewell” week. Bernahardt made over nine “farewell” tours of America between 1906 – 1918. In 1900 Bernhardt was just doing farewell weeks.

Bernhardt was appearing in a prose adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The crazy part was Ms. Bernhardt was playing….Hamlet! This was considered very controversial in 1900.

The other ads on the page show what major acts were appearing at theatres around the city.

The famous Maude Adams (1872-1953), was concluding her run at the Knickerbocker Theatre in L’Ainglon. There were only 12 more performances scheduled.

The Garden Theatre was managed by Charles Frohman, the most influential and important theatre impresario of the day. Frohman also managed the Criterion, Empire and Garrick Theatre. In addition to managing theatres, Frohman was the personal manager of Maude Adams.

If you have ever seen the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, you may know that writer Richard Matheson based a good deal of Seymour’s character (Elise McKenna) on Ms. Adams. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #70 – 59th Street Central Park – 1903

59th Street, Fifth Avenue & Central Park On a Snowy Day – 1903

central-park-december-1903-from-burr-mcintoshThis panoramic view looking west from 5th Avenue of 59th Street, also known as Central Park South, was published in December 1903 by a theatrical magazine, Burr McIntosh monthly. Unless you’ve seen that issue of the magazine (unlikely) this view has remained unseen for the last 113 years.

A snowy day means light pedestrian and vehicular traffic. A few horse drawn vehicles are braving the elements, while a handful of pedestrians go about their business.

The building In the upper left corner on the south side of 59th Street is John D. Phyfe and James Campbell’s New Plaza Hotel (the original Plaza Hotel) built 1885-1890.

Phyfe and Campbell ended up losing the hotel in foreclosure before it was completed and it was purchased on September 18, 1888 by the New-York Life Insurance Co. for the bargain price of $925,000. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #57

Aerial View of Lower Manhattan – Late 1920s

Lower Manhattan from airplane looking south 1934In this aerial view looking south upon lower Manhattan in the late 1920s, the first thing you notice is the concentration of skyscrapers in lower Manhattan contrasted to the low profile tenements in the foreground that make up part of the lower east side.

There are also an abundance of piers along the East River, most of which have now vanished. Looking at the harbor, a large number of boats are active in the bay and on the Hudson River. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #13 – Fifth Ave From 31st – 59th St.

10 Postcard Views Of Fifth Avenue From 31st -59th Street

postcard Fifth ave street sceneLet’s have a look at ritzy Fifth Avenue. All the postcards depict scenes from about 1900 – 1935. Fifth Avenue has a long association with wealth and privilege. Several of these postcards  capture the shifting tide of commercial intrusion into a neighborhood once dominated by  private residences.

As we look over the avenue, the one thing you will notice is how much traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, increased after the 1920’s.  We’ll start south and work our way north.

postcard Fifth Ave from 32nd St Waldorf AstoriaThis photo postcard taken around 1915 is looking north on Fifth Avenue from 32nd Street. The turreted Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with its American flag raised on the roof is the focal point of this scene. There are no traffic signals to interrupt the  vehicular traffic on the avenue. People cross the street with little difficulty as the traffic is light.

postcard Fifth Ave 34th St 1936In just 20 years Fifth Avenue has changed dramatically. Looking south on Fifth Avenue from 34th Street in 1935, the Waldorf-Astoria is gone and the Empire State Building is in its place. The Empire State is directly behind the double deck Fifth Avenue bus. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic is substantial and in front of the bus a policeman deals with the congestion. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #56

Manhattan Looking North & West From Madison Square Garden Tower – 1893

view North and west from Madison Square Garden Tower 1893This photograph taken by the firm of H.N. Tiemann shows the emerging profile of New York around 1893. The tallest structures visible are mostly steeples of the many churches that are spread throughout Manhattan.

We are looking north and west from 26th Street between Fourth and Madison Avenues from the tower of Madison Square Garden, designed by architectural giants McKim, Mead & White in 1890.

Scottish Rite Hall photo Kings Handbook of New YorkBesides churches, there are two buildings that are prominent in the photo. One was a former church, in the center lower portion of the image, the Scottish Rite Hall with the steeple tower at the corner of 29th Street and Madison Avenue. The building Continue reading

“He Ruined My Wife!” The 109th Anniversary of The Crime Of The Century

Millionaire Harry K. Thaw Shoots Architect Stanford White At Madison Square Garden  June 25, 1906

The Beautiful Evelyn Nesbit Is At The Center Of It All

Evelyn Nesbit happy

In the annals of 20th century crime there are many cases that claim the title of the “crime of the century.” From the Lindbergh kidnapping case to the O.J Simpson saga, the public has always had an unquenchable thirst for following the media coverage of lurid crimes.

Madison Square Garden photo H.N. Tiemann

Madison Square Garden 1909 photo H.N. Tiemann

Harry Thaw’s murder of Stanford White at the roof garden theater of White’s creation, Madison Square Garden on June 25, 1906, was as big a story that has ever played out in the public eye. If it was not the “crime of the century,” it certainly qualifies for being in the top five.

A brief summary of the principal players in this drama and the events leading up to the murder goes like this.

In 1901, Stanford White, partner in the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White wants to meet artist’s model and showgirl Evelyn Nesbit, who is 16. White is known in certain circles for being a scoundrel and having many sexual affairs with actresses, models and other pretty girls. Stanford White photo Kings Notable New YorkersAfter meeting Nesbit under the approval of Evelyn’s mother, White becomes Evelyn’s benefactor over the course of several months paying for a multitude of things for Evelyn, her brother and mother. White arranges for Evelyn’s mother to take a trip back home to Pennsylvania while he promises to “look after Evelyn.” One night, while Evelyn’s mother is away and Evelyn is at White’s bachelor apartment, he plies Evelyn with liquor.  Evelyn passes out and White has his way with his virgin teen beauty. Evelyn wakes up in bed naked with White and is in shock after being raped. White begs Evelyn not to talk about what has happened. Continue reading