New York Songlines: 23rd Street

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HUDSON RIVER

Chelsea Piers

Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex by Marjorie Lipan, on Flickr

Pier 63: Basketball City; Chelsea Equestrian Center (closed). A group called Swim the Apple sponsors day and night swims in the Hudson here.


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Thomas Smith Park

Named for a secretary of Tammany Hall's executive committee; mostly used as a dog run.



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South:

In The Age of Innocence, Countess Olenska lives "far down West 23rd Street" (probably not this far) in a "peeling stucco house with a giant wisteria throttling its feeble cast-iron balcony." It was a "not fashionable" neighborhood, with neighbors who were "small dress-makers, bird-stuffers and 'people who wrote.'"

High Line Park

High Line at 23rd Street by edenpictures, on Flickr

Bridging the street here is a disused elevated railroad that was used to transport freight along the Westside waterfront, replacing the street-level tracks at 10th and 11th avenues that earned those roads the nickname "Death Avenue." Built in 1929 at a cost of $150 million (more than $2 billion in today's dollars), it originally stretched from 35th Street to St. John's Park Terminal, now the Holland Tunnel rotary. Partially torn down in 1960 and abandoned in 1980, it now stretches from Gansevoort almost to 34th--mostly running mid-block, so built to avoid dominating an avenue with an elevated platform. In its abandonment, the High Line became something of a natural wonder, overgrown with weeds and even trees, accessible only to those who risked trespassing on CSX Railroad property.

In 2009 part of it was redeveloped and opened to the public as New York City's newest park; this section of the park was opened to visitors in 2011.



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North:

Sapphire Go-Go Lounge  by edenpictures, on Flickr565 (corner): Privilege New York, upscale strip club in the Giuliani-free zone. In the 1980s was Jerry's Bar & Mesquite Grill, a trendy restaurant where the likes of Billy Idol and Duran Duran hung out. Later home of The Vault, noted S/M club.

539: Caren Golden Fine Art, formerly on 26th Street

537A: Daniel Reich, gallery that features young, undiscovered artists

519: Site of WPA Theater, which originated such plays as Little Shop of Horrors, Steel Magnolias and Jeffrey.

High Line Park






by nycbone, on Flickr

505: The Half King, restaurant and bar owned by Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger; named for an Iroquois leader of the pre-Revolutionary era. A literary hangout.





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This was the original Hudson River shoreline--everything to the west is landfill.

South:

470 (corner): Il Bordello, Mediterranean West 23rd Street by edenpictures, on Flickr

468: Gives an idea of original appear- ance of row houses, as do 464, 462 and 448.

450: Poet Edwin Arlington Robinson lived on top floor (1901-05), which he referred to as "my old cell."

Fitzroy Place

428-444: 1850s row houses turned into co-op apts. "Fitzroy Road" was colonial north-south road near present-day 8th Avenue. No. 440 was the base of the Guild of St. Elizabeth.

420-424: Approximate site of birthplace of Clement Clarke Moore (1779), scholar, former owner of Chelsea who is credited (possibly inaccurately) with writing "A Visit From St. Nicholas"; the house, which could have been the one St. Nicholas visited, stood from 1777-1854--probably at No. 422-424, not 420, where the plaque is.

400 (corner): Moonstruck diner

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London Terrace Apartments

Brick building by Theo La Photo, on Flickr

401-465: 1,670 units built 1930. Built over and named for an 1845 strip of Greek Revival houses, aka "Millionaires' Row," designed by Alexander Jackson Davis. The doormen here used to dress like London bobbies.


















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South:

368 (corner): Chelsea Square Restaurant, diner

362: Negril Island Spice, Jamaican restaurant. The building was once owned by actress Lily Langtry, 1886-94; a gift from admirer Fred Gebhard.

360: Westside Tavern

358: Chelsea Bistro & Bar, fancy restaurant where Susan Bush, George W.'s former sister-in-law, told muckraker Kitty Kelley about George's doing cocaine at Camp David during his father's presidency.

350: Allerton Annex Hotel, transients

344: The Cheyney apartments

340: James N. Wells' Sons Real Estate Co., founded 1819 by the builder of much of Chelsea.

338: The Cell Theatre, a nonprofit collective. Was John Stevenson Gallery, art photography.

332: Leo House, a Catholic residence for women founded in 1889; building dates to 1926.

322-324: Condos originally built, oddly enough, for the American Jersey Cattle Club.

312-320: Louis Philipe apartments; includes Patsy's Pizzeria, founded 1933. No. 314 was the site of a drugstore where on February 8, 1932, mobster Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll was rubbed out by Dutch Schultz's gang; Coll had accidentally killed a child during a shoot-out, bringing unwanted attention to the Mob.

300 (corner): This 1928 Art Deco building, by architect Emery Roth, was supposed to be a hotel, but the project went bankrupt. Restored with its original deco fixtures.

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From 23rd to 29th streets between 8th and 9th avenues is Penn Station South, 1962 housing co-op built by ILGWU.

333: Chelsea West Cinema was the home of the Roundabout Theatre Company, 1974-84.




313: This was the address of the mansion of financier Jim Fisk. (See below.)

315: The Broadmoor apartments used to be the Cornish Arms Hotel, where the wrap party for The Godfather was held. The ground floor is Dagostino 23rd Street Market.







Corner: Former site of the Grand Opera-House; originally Pike's Opera House (1868), bought soon after by financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, partly as showcase for Fisk's mistress, Josie Mansfield, partly as offices for Gould and Fisk's Erie Railway. During 1869 "Black Friday" panic--caused by Fisk and Gould's attempts to corner gold--Fisk allegedly hid in Opera-House vaults. Fisk was shot in 1872 by Edward Stokes, a rival for Mansfield's affections; his funeral was held at the Opera-House.

George M. Cohan produced plays here; Fred Astaire practiced dancing. Converted to a cinema in 1917; demolished 1960. There's a branch of the local Dallas BBQ chain here now.


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This intersection is the approximate location of "Chelsea" (1750-77), Captain Thomas Clarke's estate that gave its name to the neighborhood. Clarke, Clement Clarke Moore's grandfather, named the house he intended to retire to after London's old soldiers' home.

South:

264: Was Burritoville, local Mexican chain Clearview Chelsea Cinemas by dahveed76, on Flickr

260: Clearview Chelsea Cinema was built 1989 as one of the first "modern" cinemas in Manhattan; sold by Cineplex Odeon to Cablevision in 1998 for antitrust reasons. My future wife and I saw our first movie together here.

256: Was the address of Cavanagh's Restaurant (1876-1970), hangout for Diamond Jim Brady, Lillian Russell, John L. Sullivan and Tammany Hall pols. After the restaurant closed, it housed Galaxy 21 (1972-76), a gay disco closed by the police, and the Squat Theatre, a venue for such musicians as Nico, John Cale, Sun Ra and the Lounge Lizards, and an inspiration to filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

254: East of Eighth, gay-friendly bar and restaurant. I ate here with one of my favorite people the first time we met.

250: Emigrant Savings Bank was built in 1948 as Broadway Savings Bank.

248: Was Healthy Chelsea, longstanding health food store.

242: Fourth Federal Savings building features scary animal faces.

236-38: Congregation Emunath Israel (since 1920) was Third Reformed Prebyterian Church (1855).

228: Was Manhattan Comics & Card

226: El Quijote, the Chelsea's bar and restaurant since 1930. A Janis Joplin hangout.

The Chelsea Hotel

Hotel Chelsea (222 West 23rd Street - New York) by scalleja, on Flickr

222: Built in 1883, it was New York's tallest building until 1902. A hotel noted for writers, artists, musicians. William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, O. Henry, Edgar Lee Masters, Sarah Bernhardt (who reportedly slept here in a coffin), Lillian Russell, Dylan Thomas (#205), Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Mary McCarthy, Brendan Behan, Vladimir Nabokov, Gregory Corso, John Sloan, Claes Oldenburg, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Virgil Thomson, Janis Joplin (#411), Jimi Hendrix, Patti Smith, Jim Carroll, etc. Art from many tenants hangs on walls, usually offered in lieu of rent.

Thomas Wolfe wrote Look Homeward Angel here; William Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch; Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001 (#1008); Bob Dylan wrote "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" (# 2011); Leonard Cohen (#424) wrote Chelsea Hotel by Fearless Tall Dude Killer, on Flickr "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" about it. Andy Warhol filmed Chelsea Girls. Some of Nine 1/2 Weeks was shot here, as was the avant-porn movie Stunt Girl. Sid Vicious killed Nancy Spungen in Room 100 in 1978.

I was taken here once after a very successful first date; on another occasion, I met a delightful kitten at a costume party here.

Serena, styley and pricey bar in the Chelsea's basement, has hard-to-spot entrance.

220: Chelsea Guitars has fancy vintage models

218: Capital Bait and Tackle, since 1897

208: Carteret building houses Righteous Urban Barbecue, where they're serious about barbecue. Used to have Twirl, 1980s-inflected dance club.

206: Jake's Saloon was The Basil, Thai restaurant, which replaced The Nouvelle Justine, aka Maison de Sade, an S/M-themed restaurant. Before that (in the early 1990s) it was the Zig Zag, which had a cool neon sign (and was an early date spot for my wife and me). Upstairs (when it was the Oasis Bar) was once Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe's loft.

202 (corner): Chelsea Savoy hotel is notably ugly.

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271: Trailer Park, ironic restaurant/bar

trailer park restaurant signage by aprilzosia, on Flickr

269: F-B, European street food--meaning interesting hot dogs, mainly.

267: Was Mother's, a one-time gay bar that was an early punk venue from 1974-75--Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Television, Heartbreakers etc. played there.

265: Krispy Kreme doughnuts, good if you stop at two. Miranda goes off her diet here on Sex and the City.

263: Was Midnight Records, collectors' haven for garage and psychedelic music--now an Internet store.


















241: Noted undertaker Frank E. Campbell opened his first facility, called the Funeral Church, here in 1898.

CPUSA

235: Communist Party USA national HQ; used to house Unity, the official CP bookstore. Was the site of Kalem silent film studios.












Former McBurney YMCA

Chelsea Hotel NY by Ireina, on Flickr

215: Oldest Y in NYC (from 1869); moved to this location 1904, supplanting the French Branch, a Y for the local French-speaking population. Moved in 2002 to 14th Street, when this building was converted to condos. Named for Robert Ross McBurney, an early leader of the Y movement. Merrill met Lynch in the swimming pool in 1913; other members have included Edward Albee, Andy Warhol and Al Pacino. William Saroyan stayed here when he came to NY in 1928, as did Keith Haring 50 years later. This Y inspired the Village People's "YMCA." The steamroom scene in The Godfather was shot here.

209: Muhlenberg branch, NY Public Library; named for pastor of the Church of the Holy Communion (later the Limelight disco), who donated his books to the Free Circulating Library, which became part of the NYPL. Built 1906 with funds from Andrew Carnegie.







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South:

170: The hip-hop star Foxy Brown was charged with assaulting a worker at Bloomie Nails in 2002 for not giving her the pedicure she ordered.








158: Monster Sushi used to be Godzilla Sushi--trademark problems. The site used to be the headquarters of the King's Daughters and Sons, an organization for the spiritual uplift of tenement dwellers.

148-156: Chelsea Mews, Gothic-Revival commercial bldg converted to condos.

140: Was the New York Institute for Artist-Artisans, an artists' trade school founded 1889.
























The Milan

The Milan by edenpictures, on Flickr

118-122: The gables make this 1988 apartment building an early example of Post- Modernism. Used to be a nice restaurant here called The Milan Cafe.


102-116: Was side entrance to Erich's department store, now side entrance to Burlington Coat Factory; in both cases, the main entrance was on 6th Avenue. 23rd Street Holdout by edenpictures, on Flickr

100 (corner): Your Taste upscale deli building was Riker's Drug Store branch; rejected buy-out from Ehrich's, which wanted the whole end of the block. Originally built as a jeweler's.

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171 (corner): Chelsea Papaya--tasty hot dogs and frothy tropical fruit drinks, ala Gray's Papaya.

167: Landmark Wine & Spirits. This 1898 building was a ''landmark'' in the sense that it had a neat metal cupola on its roof; next door at No. 169 also had an interesting cornice. The decorations were removed about 1990, so the liquor store sort of has a misnomer.

165: Allen Office Furniture. Author Stephen Crane lived on top floor of this brownstone (1895-96), as did painter John Sloan from 1904-11; the view is featured in many of Sloan's paintings.

163: Malibu Diner is in the Traffic Building; early modernist building, built for a 1920s cafeteria, with "virtuoso brickwork" (AIA Guide).

161: Suede, styley bar; formerly the gay Blu

159: Francisco's Centro Vasco, touted for lobster

Associated Blind Housing

135: Selis Manor, federally subsidized housing for the seeing-impaired, opened in 1980. Built on the site of Proctor's 23rd Street Music Hall (1888), a vaudeville showcase featuring Lillie Langtry, Lillian Russell et al. Made the song "Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay" famous.

131: Inn on 23rd; New School Culinary Arts.

St. Vincent De Paul

Saint Vincent De Paul by Steve and Sara, on Flickr

129: Founded in 1841 and named for the French saint; Catholic services in English and French. Edith Piaf remarried here in 1962.

123: Peter's Place, senior service center

119: Albert Building is the site of Tekserve, perhaps the best (and nicest) Macintosh repair shop in the U.S. Also houses the Flatiron Playhouse on the 3rd floor.

117: The site of the Phil Kearny post of the Grand Army of the Republic, one of the most prominent posts of the powerful Civil War vets organization.

101 (corner): Citibank building was site of Koster & Bial's Concert Hall (1879-1924), popular vaudeville house featuring Victor Herbert's orchestra. In 1890, Italian sailor Giovanni Succi set a world record by fasting here for 45 days. Earlier was the site of Bryant's Opera House (1870). It's now the (mailing) address of Lucas Entertainment, which Time Out calls "one of the biggest gay adult-film businesses in the world."

SUBWAY:
F train to 14th Street 23rd Street Station by edenpictures, on Flickr

This is the station where the pro- tagonist unwit- tingly boards the Midnight Meat Train in the Clive Barker short story of the same name.


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South:

The Caroline

The Caroline by edenpictures, on Flickr

60 (corner): Commercial/ residential building completed 2002. On the site of the Edwin Booth Theater (1869-1883), run by and featuring New York's most prominent Shakespearean actor--brother of John Wilkes Booth. Sarah Bernhardt made her New York debut here in 1880. In the basement was Ivan Siscovitch's saloon, said to be the "headquarters for all the noted forgers in America." Later James W. McCreery (1895-1907), "Dean of the Retail Trade." Demolished 1975; see an image of the old building here.

60 was also the address (1881-1910) of Best & Co., a children's clothing store known as "The Lilliputian Bazaar"; it was slightly east of the corner.

58: Site of Bonwit & Teller's second store (1898-1911); fine women's clothing.

54: This was the second location of Schrafft's, and the first to try out its successful formula as a woman-oriented tea room.

52: Once the address of the American Water-Color Society.

50: Reminiscence, nostalgia kitsch; Straight From the Crate was Woodwind & Brasswind. From 1898-1913, this was LeBoutillier Bros.; from 1854-83, the site of Calvary Baptist Church, now on 57th Street.

Stern Brothers

Stern Brothers Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

38-46: This was Stern Brothers Department Store, a company founded in 1867 by Isaac, Louis and Bernard Stern. It moved from 22nd to 23rd Street in 1978, and this massive cast-iron expansion was built in 1892. It was New York City's largest store until Siegel-Cooper opened up in 1896. The store had top-hatted doormen, but took pride in offering goods priced for all classes. Stern's closed its flagship store in 1970, but "SB" can still be seen above the archway; the facade is well-preserved, save for a defacing modernization in the upper left corner. Now Manhattan's first Home Depot.

32-36: The building with the large pillars in front was apparently the original part of Stern's, built in 1878 to a Henry Fernbach design. Later toymaker Hasbro HQ, and also used for the toy company's exterior in Tom Hanks' Big.

26: Jennifer Leather, sofas

24: Medici shoes

22: Mangia cafe is at the address of the Quill Club, a club formed in 1890 for "the promotion of fellowship and interchange of views on questions in the domains of religion, morals, philosophy and sociology."

20: Shoegasm on 23rd Street; Murphy Bed Center, fold-down beds for all your screwball comedy needs. The top three stories illustrate what the whole block used to look like.

18: Ricky's NYC, funky local cosmetics chain

16: Lenny's sandwiches

Edith Wharton birthplace

Edith Wharton's Birthplace by edenpictures, on Flickr

14: The novelist was born here January 24, 1862, in what was then an Anglo-Italianate brownstone; has been redesigned at least three times since, once by Henry Hardenbergh. Recently Scott's Fifth Avenue Florist, noted for its giant stuffed bears; now a corporate coffee outlet.

12: This building, housing AnnSam@Chelsea, was the home of Benjamin Nathan, former vice president of the New York Stock Exchange, president of the synagogue Shearith Israel, and uncle of former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Nathan Cardozo. Nathan's murder here on the night of July 28, 1870 is an enduring New York mystery.

Western Union Building

Western Union Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (186 5th Ave): Built 1883 in Queen Anne style (Henry Hardenbergh, arch.). Sent messages via pneumatic tube two and a half miles to the downtown office. Note "W.U. 1883" near peak. Houses Luz's Shoe Repair, J'adore French bakery.

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SUBWAY:
F train to

Masonic Hall

Grand Lodge of New York by Usonian, on Flickr

71 (corner): Chase bank is ground floor of this 1913 building, built on the site of a 1875 Masonic Hall. New York Masons include John Jacob Astor, Theodore Roosevelt, Fiorello LaGuardia and Harry Houdini. Vanguard Recording Studios was located here, where Kiss recorded part of their album Chelsea.

69: Limerick House, pleasant Irish bar/restaurant. My wife once met Steven Sondheim here.

67: Four Seasons, which are apparently bagel, coffee, sandwich and salad. Horner's Furniture Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

61-65: Was Robert J. Horner's Furniture (1876-1912); later Villeroy and Boch, china and glass. Now houses Manor House Cellar wines and spirits, Unlimited Jeans and Rickshaw noodles.



53: PC Richards electronics (formerly Arcade America clothing) is on the site of the Eden Musee (1884-1916), which featured "the usual retinue of freaks, midgets, fire eaters, sword swallowers, waxworks, a Chamber of Horrors, and 'Ajeeb, the Chess Mystery,'...a hollow figurine inhabited by a child dwarf" (Low Life). So popular it had its own streetcar stop. Castro Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

43-47: Castro Building, an elegant 1894 design by Henry Hardenbergh, was Flint Furniture Co., which merged with Horner's. Later Castro Convertibles, then Moda Furniture.

51: Sleepy's mattress outlet

39-41: Parking lot was F.A.O. Schwartz toys.









35-37: Originally D.S. Hess furniture (1879); later Villeroy and Boch china, then F.A.O Schwartz toys (before moving next door). Now Louis & Sons, selling furniture again.









Touro College

27-33: Main building of a far-flung professional school founded in 1971 and named for an 18th Century Jewish philanthropic family. Duggal Visual Solutions, high-tech photo lab, is on the ground floor.

25: Was the Comfort Diner, 1950s retro

23: Gothic Cabinet Craft, local furniture chain

19: Noir et Blanc...bis, clothing

International Toy Center

International Toy Center by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (200 5th Ave): Since 1925 the center of the U.S. toy business; note toy and holiday displays. Replaced the Fifth Avenue Hotel (1858-1908), once the most exclusive hotel in NYC. Cornelius Vanderbilt and his cronies would trade stocks here after hours. Setting of Gore Vidal's 1876. Earlier it was Franconi's Hippodrome (1852-59); before Fifth Avenue Building by Rev. Santino, on Flickr that it was Corporal Thompson's Madison Cottage, a roadhouse described by the New York Herald as "one of the most agreeable spots for an afternoon's lounge in the suburbs of our city."


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The nation's first civil rights march, organized by the NAACP on July 28, 1917, took 10,000 African-Americans, led by 300 children dressed in white, down 5th Avenue from 59th Street to 23rd Street to protest recent anti-black riots.

South:

Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building by MCSimon, on Flickr

Built in 1903 as the Fuller Building, its unusual and striking shape (designed by Daniel Burhnam to match its triangular lot) quickly earned it its lasting nickname. It is not true that is New York's first skyscraper-- just one of its most memorable. A traditional publishing center, it's still home to St Martin's Press. In 1910s, it housed the offices of the Socialist Labor Party, NYC - Flatiron Building (detail) by wallyg, on Flickr ancestor of most U.S. left parties. It features in the movie Spider- Man as the Daily Bugle building, and Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak are teleported here in Bell, Book and Candle. Flatiron, Manhattan by katherine of chicago, on Flickr

The phrase "23 Skidoo" supposedly originated with a police officer chasing off loiterers at the 23rd Street corner hoping to catch a glimpse of stocking under a skirt blown up by the freakish Flatiron winds.

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South:

Madison Green

6 (corner): Madison Green by edenpictures, on Flickr
Very large luxury condo building was built on site of the Wonder Drugs Fire of October 17, 1966, which killed 12 firefighters--the worst disaster in FDNY history until the World Trade Center attacks. An earlier fire (January 5, 1952) at No. 2, which was then the corner address, destroyed the studio (and much of the work) of sculptor Jacques Lipchitz. 23rd Street II by edenpictures, on Flickr

10: When the band Kiss first got together in 1972, they rehearsed here in a fourth-floor loft. Now houses Cosmic Comics, which has a strong back-issue selection.

14: Live Bait, popular bayou-themed singles' bar

nyc by Ralph Hockens, on Flickr

18: Bonobo's Vegetarian, new-wave vegan named for humanity's closest relatives. Was Trattoria Bella Donna.

One Madison Park

One Madison Park by edenpictures, on Flickr

20: Was Aperture Book Center, photography bookstore run by a foundation founded by Ansel Adams and other photography greats. The building was torn down in 2007, and was replaced by a 50-story modular skyscraper once called The Saya, but now going Giving One Madison Park the bird by MileageNYC, on Flickr by the pseudo-address of One Madison Park. This building used to bug me, but I now think it does a great deal to reconcile the old and new architecture around Madison Square.

28: Chetty Red has been a bar with many names, including True, Vanity, Mantra, Sci Bar, X Bar and Buck Wild. 23rd Street I by edenpictures, on Flickr

34: JAS Mart, Asian products for Japanese expatriates, is a cross-cultural experience. Upstairs is Undisputed Corp Gym, featuring four-time kickboxing world champion Charlie "The Cream" Cassis. Sport of the future!

36: The Studio Building is home to The Real Deal, New York real estate magazine. Used to house Cosmic Comics.

38: Mozzerelli's, Italian chain, was Shoe Outlet, notable for having half a car in its window.

40: Professional Driving School of the Americas. Used to house Everything $10 and Up, which seemed an odd promise for a store.

42: Was Chicken Kitchen Kenny Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (304 PAS): The Kenny Building's first 11 stories were completed in 1904, an Italian Renaissance design by Clinton & Russell. A penthouse--a single studio the height of two stories--was added in 1916 for artist Jules Guerin, who painted murals for the Lincoln Memorial here. An adjacent penthouse was added in 1925 by the building's then-owner Bill Kenny for his friend, Gov. Al Smith, to use as a political clubhouse. Known as the Tiger Room (for the "Tammany Tigers"), it was decorated in tiger skins and featured the likes of Al Jolson and Will Rogers as entertainment.

The modeling firm IMG, which represents the likes of Heidi Klum and Gisele Bundchen, now has penthouse offices here.

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North:

Madison Square Park

The Empire State Building through the haze of Madison Square Park by permanently scatterbrained, on Flickr The area was named Madison Square 1814, during Madison's presidency, though Madison Square Park was opened in 1847; the current layout dates to 1870. It was the center of NY society in the 1860s. The park features in O. Henry short stories ("Cop and the Anthem," "Madison Square Arabian Night"). Author Herman Melville used to walk here regularly with his granddaughter.




NYC: Madison Square Park - William H. Seward Statue by wallyg, on Flickr

Statue of William Seward (1801-72); an early abolitionist who became NY governor (1838-42) and a U.S. senator (1848-61), he served as secretary of state under Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. He's most remembered for paying Russia $7 million for Alaska in 1867.

Making the statue in 1876, sculptor Randolph Rogers re-used cast of Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation for the body; Seward was actually short with a large head.


The Star of Hope was erected in 1916 to commemorate the site of the first U.S. community Christmas tree, put up here in 1912.




Roscoe Conkling statue

NYC - Madison Square Park - Roscoe Conkling Statue by wallyg, on Flickr

A U.S. senator and Republican machine boss who fell victim to the Great Blizzard of 1888. This bronze was done of him in 1893 by John Quincy Adams Ward.






The Shake Shack

Madison Square Park by *~YY~*, , on Flickr

A hot dog stand run by Danny Meyer, the owner of Tabla and Eleven Madison, two great (and greatly expensive) restaurants nearby.


MADISON AVENUE   ===> N

Met Life Building

Met Life Closer by mcotner, on Flickr

Corner (1 Madison): A 1957 redesign stripped most of the ornamentation from Met Life's 1893 Home Office Building (1893). The tower, a 1909 Napoleon LeBrun & Sons design, was the world's tallest building for four years (until the Woolworth Tower). NYC: Met Life Tower by wallyg, on Flickr

















Corner: Former site of the National Academy of Design (1865-99).


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On September 15, 1776, Hessians captured 300 Revolutionary soldiers here during the Battle of Kips Bay.

South:

Corner (295 PAS): Park 23, 17-story apartment building constructed 1900. Note that corners read "East 23rd Street/Fourth Avenue," reflecting the avenue's old name. On the 23rd Street side, No. 104 is Gramercy Wine & Spirits, and No. 106 is Cohen Fashion Opticals-- I used to be a customer, until they took two months to replace a lost contact.

110: Organique, organic burgers and sandwiches

112: Papou's Pizza






120: Time Warner Cable of NYC HQ; HBO Studios.

122: United Cerebal Palsy of NYC
















132 (corner): Beach Bum Tanning

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North:

NYC 03 by Kramchang, on Flickr

Corner (303 Park Ave): Isadora Duncan lived and taught dance in this building (1914-15), which she called The Dionysian. Houses Pax Wholesome Foods, New York Sports Club, Golden Krust Jamaican fast food, InVite Health.

115: Was Associated Artists

117: Site of the Building-Trades' Club, a clubhouse for construction employers.

121: American Apparel, soft-core fashions; Extreme Pita

123: Little Folks, children's bargains

125: Mark Cafe

Gramercy Theatre

127: Opened in 1937 (as the Gramercy Park), this cinema went from first-run to second-run to revival house, and served as the home of the Roundabout Theater Company and for MOMA's film series during renovations. Now a concert venue known as the Blender Theater at Gramercy. The hall of the American Society of Civil Engineers, founded 1852, was here--not clear if it's the same building.

131 (corner): Twelve-story building from 1912 by Buchman & Fox; converted to apartments in 1996.


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South:

Baruch College

DSC05463 by Kramchang, on Flickr

Corner (17 Lexington): CUNY's business school. On this site was the Free Academy, a boys' high school, in an 1849 Gothic building by James Renwick Jr.. This became the College of the City of New York, which moved in 1907, leaving its business school behind; this became Baruch in 1953, named for financier and presidential advisor Bernard Baruch, CCNY class of 1889.

The Renwick building was torn down in 1928 and replaced in 1930 with the current 16-story structure by Thompson, Holmes & Converse.

150-152: Vercesi Hardware, est. 1912

154: Xavier Center for the Blind

156: Eagle Master Signs & Awards

Grand Saloon

DSC00103 by Kramchang, on Flickr

158: This building dates to 1843; in 1880 it was the St. Blaize Hotel & Restaurant, a celebrated brothel frequented by Diamond Jim Brady. In 1911 it became Klube's Steak House; that name is still visible on the copper facade. It was a speakeasy during Prohibition.

160: Kanter Press Printers & Stationers 23rd and 3rd by edenpictures, on Flickr

162 (corner): Five-story Greek revival

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George Washington Hotel

Corner: Built 1928; writers Christopher Isherwood and W.H. Auden stayed in 1939. Auden called it "much the nicest hotel in town." Dee Dee Ramone lived here c. 1991, when it was much less nice. Entrance is on Lexington.

137: Shakespeare & Co. bookstore; on the ground floor of George Washington Hotel.

139: Modell Loans, pawnbrokers since 1893

Kenmore Hall

145: Was the Hotel Kenmore in 1928; writer Nathanael West was night manager (1927-29); allowed friends like Edmund Wilson, Erskine Caldwell, S.J. Perelman and Maxwell Bodenheim free room and meals. Dashiell Hammett finished The Maltese Falcon here. Hotel was seized by government as drug den, 1994; now Kenmore Hall, subsidized housing. Hidden City Cafe and Olive Leaf are on the ground floor.

An earlier building (at 143-147) housed Art Students League (1887-92), taught by artists like Augustus Saint-Gaudens and William Merritt Chase. Steven Crane lived in that building (1893-95), writing The Red Badge of Courage. William Dean Howells' novel The Coast of Bohemia was set here.

149: Madison Square Post Office (10010) is an art deco landmark. The bronze frieze on the facade is called Communication, a 1937 New Deal work by Edmond R. Amateis and Louis Slobodkin; interior murals by Kindred McLeary depict Manhattan neighborhoods.

155: Building with striking three-story arches has Housing Works Thrift Shop on ground floor. Suite 405 was the laboratory of Dr. Josef Gregor, who in 1981 claimed to have created Metamorphosis, a cockroach extract that would cure arthritis, acne, menstrual cramps and enable people to survive high doses of radiation. Gregor turned out to be hoaxter Joey Skaggs.

Gramercy Green by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner: A line of old buildings was taken out for the new building here-- Gramercy Green, intended to be a luxury condo for Irish investors but sold instead to NYU for use as a dorm at the last minute. Students have complained that it's too luxurious.


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South:

200 (corner): NY Gourmet Deli; Tanning Zone; Professional Tae Kwon Do

204:Firefighter Dan DeFranco Building houses the International Association of Firefighters; DeFranco (1934-96) was a firefighter and union rep who promoted health and safety issues. Manhattan Carpets on ground floor.

210: Viang Ping Thai; upstairs was Acquiesce, a sex club mainly populated by single straight men that was closed down in 2001.

212: Salvation Army Thrift Shop

222: City Opera Thrift Shop

228: Epiphany Branch of the NY Public Library; founded 1887 by NY Catholic Archdiocese, and named for Epiphany church and school nearby on E 22nd. Current building 1907, funded by Carnegie.

238: 99-Cent Plus Discount Store, part of a row of old 19th Century rowhouses

246: Exclusive Video DVD (replacing B&R Uniforms Center) is below the former fourth-floor apartment of model Marie-Josee Saint Antoine, who was stabbed to death here on June 18, 1982. Police believed the killer was Canadian TV anchor Alain Montpetit (who died of a cocaine overdose in 1986), though he was never charged.

Corner (395 2nd Ave): Cosmos Diner, since 1978

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205: A building formerly at this address was the New York College of Dentistry, founded 1829.

School of Visual Arts

209: founded 1947 as the Cartoonists & Illustrators School. Many prominent artists have taught here, including designer Milton Glaser, creator of the "I Heart NY" logo. Artist Keith Haring was an SVA drop-out.

217: Monkey Bar Lounge, SVA student hangout

219: Nicely detailed brick building; note dragons at top. Umi No Aji (Japanese); La Tina's Comida Latina.

221: The same building as 219. Kool Bloo Burgers; Jess Bakery has bubble tea.






School for the Deaf

225 (corner): Junior High School 47. Old part of building dates to 1926. This was the original site of Stuyvesant High School, founded here in 1904 as a vocational school for boys; it moved to 15th Street in 1907.


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South:

Corner (398 1st Avenue): The site of the East End Temple, whose congregation moved to 245 E 17th Street. Used to bear the inspiring verse: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." Torn down, 2008.

304-316: The Foundry (1905), condos. On ground floor are Furry Paws pet supplies, B&R Uniforms Center (nurses', maids', etc.).

320: Sixteen awful stories of white brick, built 1965

338: In 1920, this was the address of the Olive Tree Inn.

340: Gramercy Starck

346: O'Donnell's Bar here was torn down for the Gramercy Starck. Post Luminaria II by edenpictures, on Flickr

352 (corner): Post Luminaria, Mondrian-inspired apartment tower (2002). East Side Cafe on ground floor.

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East Midtown Plaza Apartments

East Midtown Plaza Apartments I by edenpictures, on Flickr

The AIA Guide is very impressed with this 1972-74 apartment complex. Associated Supermarket, Corbet & Conley Caterers, Pastrami & Things on ground floor.

















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South:

Peter Cooper Village

beggars would ride by rhinomite, on Flickr

420-440: Built in the late 1940s by Met Life Insurance Co. as affordable housing; now being converted to luxury condos. Built on the site of the notorious Gashouse District, where fumes from chemical plants kept out all but the poorest immigrants. Terrorized by the Gashouse Gang.

Peter Cooper was a 19th Century industrialist who ran the first U.S. railroad (the Tom Thumb), helped lay the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable and invented jello. He founded Cooper Union, a school of art, engineering and architecture where tuition has always been free.

































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North:

Corner (400 1st Ave): District 75/Citywide Programs; provides instructional support for students with special needs throughout New York's public school system.

VA Hospital

VA hospital and public baths by Dr.DeNo, on Flickr (423 E 23rd): Technically, this is the New York Campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System. It's Manhattan's main hospital for veterans. Manhattan VA by edenpictures, on Flickr

ASSER LEVY PLACE

This used to be part of Avenue A.

Asser Levy Park

Asser Levy was an early Jewish immigrant, a kosher butcher, who won an important victory for religious tolerance in 1655 when he successfully appealed Peter Stuyvesant's ban on Jews in the New Amsterdam militia. He also won, against Stuyvesant's opposition, the right to trade and to practice his profession. After the colony became New York, Levy was the first Jew to serve on a jury in North America.

Asser Levy Recreation Center

Free Public Baths by satanslaundromat, on Flickr

Originally the East 23rd Street Bath, built in 1908 to a design by Arnold W. Brunner and William Martin Aiken. Joyce Mendelsohn calls it a "magnificent Beaux-Arts building." Features year-round indoor swimming.


FDR DRIVE

Believe it or not, there is a small beach here, where the group Swim the Apple sponsors day and night swims in the East River.







EAST RIVER







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