Tag Archives: Postcards

New York City’s Famous Drake’s Restaurant 1900-1937

Drake’s Restaurant Was Open 24 Hours A Day For 37 Years Until Labor Troubles Set In

In our previous story we briefly told the story of Jack’s a famous New York restaurant that never closed. There was another “never closed” restaurant which was a New York institution for 37 years.

Drake’s was located at 111 West 42nd Street near Broadway. The restaurant was founded in 1900 as Rigg’s as part of the Rigg’s chain. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #24 – Pre-Prohibition Manhattan Restaurants 1900 -1920

Manhattan Meals – Some Pre-Prohibition Turn-Of-The-Century Restaurants

Maxim’s Restaurant 108-110 West 38th Street. Maxim’s was the first restaurant raided a few hours before prohibition went into effect January 15, 1920

With few exceptions owning a restaurant is among the most precarious businesses to enter. Long hours, high upfront costs for rent, food and labor and changing public tastes almost insure that few restaurants can make a long and successful run.

100 years ago many of New York’s older restaurants shut down because of an unexpected decline in business- the victims of prohibition.

Once cafes and restaurants lost the right to sell beer, wine and liquor many closed soon after the Volstead Act went into effect in 1920. Some restaurants known for fine cuisine were able to ride out 13 years with no alcohol sales. Other restaurants would turn to selling spirits illegally. Others like cafeteria and luncheon type restaurants survived, having always been patronized for their food.

All of the following restaurants shown below closed long ago.

Restaurant and Cafe Leo

Cafe Leo 14th Street New York CIty Restaurant and Cafe Leo stood on the southwest corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue. Note the Star of David over the entrances, not always the sign of a Jewish establishment, but a decorative element. In this case however, proprietor Leo Greenbaum was letting potential diners know this was a Jewish owned business. By 1923 Cafe Leo vanished from the city directory. Continue reading

The Big Department Store In New York In 1898 – Siegel-Cooper

Some Facts About Siegel Cooper – The Big Store 1898

Siegel Cooper Dpartment store postcard 18th Street 6th Avenue New York CitySiegel-Cooper Department Store has been gone for over 100 years. But in 1898, Henry Siegel and Frank H. Cooper’s emporium was the Amazon of its day.

In the 1890s Siegel and Cooper successfully operated a department store in Chicago before setting their sights on an expansion in New York.

What Siegel, the driving force of the concern, conceived in New York was not just a department store, it was the “Big Store.” The Siegel-Cooper Department Store was built on Sixth Avenue between 18th and 19th streets. It was a great location, then being New York’s primary shopping district known as the “Ladies Mile.” Within a half mile stretch of Sixth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets could be found the giants of retailing including Macy’s; Altman’s; Hugh O’Neill’s; Adam’s Dry Goods;, Ehrich Brothers; and Simpson, Crawford & Simpson.

The Siegel-Cooper Big Store building opened on September 12, 1896 and was an instant smash with the public.

Siegel-Cooper provided the nineteenth century shopper with a incredible array of goods, from abdominal bands to zephyrs and everything in between. Perhaps the most unusual article available for sale was “Baby”, a live, baby female elephant. Baby was sold within two weeks of the store’s opening for $2,000.

Among the store’s innovations was a nursery with trained nurses Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #23 – The Bronx

The Bronx In Postcards 1905-1920

McKinley Square looking East – Bronx, NY

A short visit to the vanished Bronx of of a century ago.

It truly was the “Beautiful Bronx.”

Woodmansten Inn-Williamsbridge Road & Pelham-Parkway, Bronx, NY

A place to dine in style was the Woodmansten Inn. The Woodmansten Inn specialized in French cuisine and could seat 125 patrons. It was a busy place conveniently located across from the Morris Park Race Track (yes, the Bronx once had a horse racing track). Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #22 – 1950s New York City In Color

Color Postcards of New York City In The 1950s

The world famous Radio City Music Hall

When you say the words “old New York” a monochrome picture may materialize within you. What is old? It depends how old you are. To many people under the age of 40, the 1950s is considered ancient. To modern eyes, the 1950s was a black and white world because most movies were still not made in color and television sets were black and white.

So when you see the old Kodak Kodachrome moments, the pre-1960 vibrant colors still deliver  a wow effect.

1950s scenes around New York

At Foley Square where the buildings house the local, state and federal government agencies.

Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village marks the beginning of Fifth Avenue. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #21 – 1920s & 1930s New York City Aerial Images

New York City In The 1920s & 1930s As Seen By Airplane

A Vanished Skyline

Peenn Station Area from airplane 1920sWhen in lower Brooklyn, Queens or bicycling across the George Washington Bridge, I look at the New York City skyline. It has become something I do not recognize.

New York is a city that architecturally alters itself every year. It comes as no surprise that there are buildings that now obscure the sight of what were once tourist magnets.

The Woolworth, Bankers Trust, Equitable, Municipal, Citicorp and Chrysler Buildings are dwarfed by new neighbors. Fifty Seventh Street is now an ugly amalgamation of needle glass towers selling for $40 million to absentee owners.

I never experienced the grandeur of the classic Manhattan skyline. It had mostly vanished by the 1960s in a spate of modern construction in the financial district and midtown. However, even through the 1980s there was not an infestation of buildings that blocked New York’s most notable structures.

But in the past fifteen years the New York skyline has been overhauled. In the process obliterating the uniqueness of New York. New, mammoth unattractive buildings are now spreading like a fungus in the city. The skyline seen now could be Chicago, Los Angeles or Houston. It has been impossible to stop a bunch of undistinguished architectural monstrosities to destroy the vistas that made New York famous.

Let us return to the 1920s and 30s when New York City looked like NEW YORK CITY. Here are some aerial postcard views showing what was once a picturesque city.

Click on any image to enlarge as all of these postcards are real photo. I scanned many (not all) of them at 300 dpi so the detail is pretty clear when enlarged.

New York from the south aerial view 1930sLooking north we have a fantastic overview of the entire southern portion of the island.

aerial lower manhattan east river 1930s aerialAnother classic view when approaching Manhattan from the south showing the piers and many turn-of-the-century and art deco buildings that proliferate in lower Manhattan.

Aerial view of Lower Manhattan from the Hudson Looking east across the Hudson another at the southern tip of Manhattan. This view captures most of the important buildings in the financial district.  Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #20 – Hotels Of The Past On The Upper West Side

Old New York Hotels Of The Upper West Side from 70th – 86th Streets

Hotel MAjestic 72nd St Central Park WestFor the past 150 years New York has had a thriving hotel industry. With real estate prices continually rising in Manhattan, more new hotels are opening now in Queens and Brooklyn.

The Plaza, The Waldorf Astoria and the St. Regis have over a century of  history. Those hostelry’s are the exception to longevity. Many of New York’s hotels are constantly in flux with ownership and name changes. Often smaller hotels have gone out of business because the real estate they sat upon was too valuable. Developers acquire the hotel and surrounding parcels and the hotel passes into history. Other times the buildings are spiffied up after years of neglect and converted from hotels to apartments.

Here are some views of the upper west side’s hotels of the past.

Hotel Emerson 75th Street off BroadwayThe Hotel Emerson at 166 West 75th Street off Broadway was a 300 room 16 story hotel opened in 1922, designed by Robert Lyons. In 1959 it became the Hotel Lincoln Square. The building has been remodeled and turned into rental apartments and is now named the Amstrdm. (That’s right, they cut out some vowels.) Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #19 – Chinese Restaurants, A Brief History

Postcard Views 1910 – 1949 & A Short History Of Chinese Restaurants In New York City

The Chinese Tuxedo Restaurant in New York’s Chinatown 1910

Along with Chinese immigration to the United States in the 1850s, came Chinese food. It wasn’t long before Americans took a liking to the transoceanic cuisine. The Chinese population in New York City was only 747 in 1880. By 1900 it had grown to 6,321.

Tai Sy Chinese restaurant

There “are eight thriving Chinese restaurants that can prepare a Chinese dinner in New York, almost with the same skill as at the famous Dan Quay Cha Yuen (Delmonico’s) of Shanghai or Canton,” according to Wong Chin Foo in the October 1888 Current Literature Magazine.  With only one day off, Chinese patrons, usually working as laundrymen, would crowd the Chinese restaurants on Sunday’s.

Port Arthur Restaurant

Port Arthur Restaurant 7 & 9 Mott Street, considered among the finest Chinese restaurants in New York City est. 1899

Continue reading

Kings Bridge (1693) and The Farmers Bridge (1759) – Two Of New York City’s Oldest Bridges Still Exist

The Story of Two Forgotten And Buried New York City Bridges

This is Kings Bridge connecting upper Manhattan to the Bronx and Westchester. The Kings Bridge was originally constructed in 1693 under a grant from the Crown and maintained by the Philipse family as a toll bridge until the revolution.

The toll was collected on every person, animal and vehicle crossing to the mainland excepting the King’s soldiers. At night the rates doubled. The bridge was reconstructed in 1713 and altered slightly a few times in the intervening 200 years. Continue reading

Aerial View of West 42nd Street – 1927

West 42nd Street Looking East Towards Times Square

1927 42nd Street aerial view

This postcard view taken by Irving Underhill is undated, but a little detective work led to the date of 1927. Along 42nd Street is a billboard for the movie King of Kings. Further down the block a movie marquee advertises the film 7th Heaven, both released in 1927

In this photograph of West 42nd Street the tallest structure visible is the Paramount Building on the left also completed in 1927. The building once housed the Paramount Theatre.

Continue reading