New York Songlines: 25th Street

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U.S. Postal Service Vehicle Maintenance Facility




S <===           11TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

534: PaceWildenstein; one of a number of galleries here in the Chelsea gallery district.

530: Feature, gallery; IndoCenter of Art and Culture, South Asian cultural center

526-530: Derek Eller Gallery

High Line Park

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 it was opened to the public as New York City's newest park; it truly transforms its neighborhood and hence the city. This section of the park was opened to visitors in 2011.

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547: Chelm and Read gallery




High Line Park



























S <===           10TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

438: New York's first Municipal Lodging House for the homeless opened here in 1909 with nearly 1,000 beds, a number that proved to be woefully inadequate.




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Elliott Houses

Named for Dr. John Lovejoy Elliott, a leader in the Society for Ethical Culture and founder of the Hudson Guild, an important Chelsea social agency.

Chelsea Houses


S <===           9TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

Penn Station South

From 23rd to 29th streets between 8th and 9th avenues is a 1962 housing co-op built by the Ladies Garment Workers Union.




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343: St Columba Church, named for an Irish saint noted for converting the Picts and confronting the Loch Ness Monster.

331: St Columba School

329: St Columba Convent



S <===           8TH AVENUE           ===> N

On July 12, 1871, in the "Slaughter on Eighth Avenue," as many as 70 people were killed between 25th and 23rd streets when Irish Catholic snipers attacked an Orange Societies Parade guarded by 3,000 police and militia soldiers.

South:

Corner (294 8th Ave): In 1951, this nail joint was The Balkan, a Yugoslavian restaurant.

276: Midtown Lumber

230: Fashion Industries High School (back entrance)

Corner (252 7th Ave): Chelsea Mercantile Apartments used to be a federal government building (INS?) dating to 1906. Now has Whole Foods on the ground floor.

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North:

Corner (300 8th Ave): Kyung's Fruit & Grocery is on the site of the Spartacus Greek Workers Educational Center, which was center of a large Greek community. Earlier it was the Utah House hotel.


207: Graphic Arts Building

Corner (200 W 26th): Chelsea Centro; new apartments. Built on the site of Guffanti's, gaslight-era restaurant.


S <===           7TH AVENUE           ===> N

On September 22, 1915, during construction of the IRT subway, 7th Avenue collapsed from here to 23rd Street, killing 25 people.

South:

Corner (261 7th Ave): Truemart Discount Fabrics, a garment district survivor. May have been one of The Seven Sisters, a row of seven houses at the west end of this block that housed bordellos run by seven supposed sisters. They maintained strict standards for clients; sometimes they were required to wear evening clothes or bring flowers for the employees.

168: Milanes Restaurant, Spanish and American Food

150: Chelsea Design Center

130: Food for Thought Catered Events is on the ground floor of the former offices of the media watch group FAIR (1988-2001). Filmmaker John Sayles' production company has its offices here.

124: Johny's Grill & Luncheonette, friendly hole-in-the-wall

122: Old Paper Archive, vintage posters etc.

110: Chelsea Antiques Building

Chelsea Stratus

Corner: This 2007 highrise boasts of being "Chelsea's tallest condominium" at 40 stories. Replaced the Olympia Deli, where for a time I used to eat almost every day.

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Lefcourt Clothing Center

Corner (275 7th Ave): This 1929 building originally housed garment workshops, one of the first lofts built for that purpose; now houses the garment workers' union UNITE.

159: Diamond Needle Corp. This block used to be dominated by industrial sewing machine shops like this one, catering to Garment District sweatshops; they're still here, but they're dwindling. This building housed the offices of OutWeek, a short-lived gay magazine founded in 1989 that outed celebrities like Malcolm Forbes and Greg Louganis.


133: Was the Gay Cable Network, shut down in 2001 by the city for running a sex club on the side. Now home to the City Quilter, quilty supplies and lessons.

119: Peter Westbrook Foundation, where the Olympic fencer teaches swordfighting to inner-city kids. (Star fencer Keeth Smart is a graduate.)

101: Was the Antique Cafe, catering to the flea market crowd. This building was busted as a brothel in the 1990s, proving that the Tenderloin tradition is not dead.


S <===           6TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

Chelsea Vanguard

This 31-story apartment building, put up in 2000, started the high-rise boom along this stretch of 6th Avenue.

48-54: Superior Sewing Equipment is on the ground floor of a pioneering loft building built by Abraham Lefcourt, who helped establish the Garment District.

40: Showplace Antiques

36: Fred Silberman (Italian collectibles, 1920-1960)

32: New York Dog Spa & Hotel

28: Site of Edith Wharton's mother's house, where Wharton had her wedding breakfast.

26: New York Antique Center; upstairs is Tannen Magic (est. 1933), a leading illusionists' shop.

18: The Arlington Hotel was once the headquarters of mobsters Louis "Lepke" Buchalter and Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro, who in the late 1920s and '30s controlled the garment district. In 1939, the hotel offered rooms for $2/night; in 1960, you could get a room for as little as $1.75, and was described as "fine for adventurous young men or couples." It's now a Comfort Inn, no longer using the Arlington moniker, and seems to cater to Asian travellers. Nos. 18 & 20 were the site of the New-York Southern Club, for people born in the South or who lived there before 1864.

16: There used to be a Clergy House here designed by Richard Upjohn (1866) for Trinity Chapel, now St. Sava.

6: 40/40 Club, sports lounge owned by rapper Jay-Z, named for the small group of baseball players who have hit 40 homeruns and stolen 40 bases in one season.

Corner (1115 Broadway): Was Liu Imports, Chinese antiques. On this site was Hoffman House, an elegant hotel whose bar shocked Victorian NYC by displaying Bouguereau's Nymphs and Satyr -- which became a major tourist attraction. The painting belonged to Edward S. Stokes, an owner of the Hoffman, who had spent time in Sing-Sing for shooting financier Jim Fisk, his rival for singer Josie Mansfield's affections. Publisher William Randolph Hearst lived at the Hoffman when he first came to NYC in 1895. In 1901, the bar posted private detectives at every entrance during ax-wielding prohibitionist Carry Nation's visit to New York.

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Chelsea Landmark

Corner:

This 35-story apartment building in 2007 replaced a parking lot with big weekend flea market--featured in the children's book My New York. "Kristen," the professional escort whose assignation with Gov. Elliot Spitzer led to his resignation, lived here at the time the scandal broke.

41-51: Sino-Euro Classic Furniture & Arts; Samuel French Inc., "House of Plays," is on second floor. Chances are your high school play came from here. A former building at No. 49 housed the National Conservatory of Music c. 1905.

27: Formerly the rectory of Trinity Chapel, this was the address of Rev. Morgan Dix, Trinity's pastor, who in 1880 was the target of a bizarre campaign of harassment. Hundreds of forged letters were sent out that produced a steady stream of salespeople, rag-buyers, lawyers, irate husbands, seekers of stolen property, etc., to the rectory's door. The perpetrator turned out to be a former Trinity Sunday school teacher and petty criminal who worked under the alias "Gentlemen Joe."

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral

15: Before 1943 this was Trinity Chapel Episcopalian, built 1850-55 to a Richard Upjohn plan. (He also did downtown's Trinity Church and what is now The Limelight.) Diarist George Templeton Strong was a member of the congregation; novelist Edith Wharton was (unhappily) married here in 1885. After Boss Tweed's daughter's wedding here in 1871, she received an estimated $700,000 in wedding gifts--a display of excess that may have led to Tweed's downfall.

After the sale, the church was renamed for the first archbishop of Serbia. The exiled King Peter II of Yugoslavia attended mass here in the 1940s.

13: St. Sava Parish House; originally Trinity Chapel School (1860). Sort of a fairy tale-looking building.

11: Haas Kitchenwares

Corner (1123 Broadway): Townsend Building


S <===           BROADWAY           ===> N

South:

Worth Square

Marks the grave of Gen. William Jenkins Worth, namesake of Ft. Worth, Texas and downtown's Worth Street. After fighting in the War of 1812, he became commandant of cadets at West Point. During the Seminole Wars, he pioneered the targeting of civilian populations and the use of starvation as a tool of warfare. Fighting in the Mexican-American War, he led the capture of Mexico City, and was given command of the newly conquered terriories of Texas and New Mexico. He died of cholera in San Antonio in 1849, and was buried here in 1857.

Rectangular structure leads to Water Tunnel No. 1, carrying water from Catskills.

In 1899, an arch made of wood and plaster was erected over 5th Avenue between 25th and 24th streets to celebrate Admiral George Dewey's destruction of the Spanish fleet in Manilla Bay. Only Dewey's rapid fall in popularity prevented it from being replaced with a permanent stone version.

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North:

Block (202 5th Ave): Commonwealth-Criterion is Commodore Manufacturing and Criterion Bell & Specialty, makers of Christmas decorations--part of the Christmas District. The site of Worth House, a hotel that by 1900 housed the Berlitz School of Languages. The present building, dating to 1918, was the flagship store (with science museum) of the A.C. Gilbert Company, a toy company that made the Erector set, radioactive chemistry sets and American Flyer model trains.















S <===           5TH AVENUE           ===> N

Madison Square Park

The 1807 plan set aside 240 acres in this vicinity as The Parade, to be used for military training. In that same year, the U.S. Arsenal was built here to defend the strategic intersection of the Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and the Eastern Post Road. By 1814, when the park was named Madison Square after the then-current president, it had been reduced to 90 acres. In 1847, when Madison Square Park was opened, less than seven acres remained.

The park, which was laid out in its current form in 1870, was the center of New York society in the 1860s and '70s. "The vicinity of Madison Square is the brightest, prettiest and liveliest portion of the great city," James McCabe wrote in 1872.

In July 1901, an attempt to turn seating in the park into a for-profit concession sparked rioting.

The park provides a setting for O. Henry short stories like "The Cop and the Anthem" and "The Sparrows in Madison Square").

The U.S. Arsenal was converted by 1824 to the House of Refuge of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents--the first such institution in the country.




Admiral Farragut Memorial

1881 commemoration of David Glasgow Farragut, Civil War fleet commander, best remembered for his "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" line. Sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, pedestal by Stanford White. Considered to be the first use of Art Nouveau in U.S.


S <===           MADISON AVENUE           ===> N

South:

Credit Suisse/First Boston

Corner (11 Madison): Built in 1929 as the Met Life North Building. One hundred stories were planned, but the Great Depression stopped construction at 29, leaving the building looking like the base of the Tower of Babel. Expansions took over entire the block by 1950. Designed by Harvey Wiley Corbett, it's considered an Art Deco masterwork-- particularly the amazing corner arcades. Price Waterhouse is a tenant here.










This building is also home to two expensive-but-worth-it restaurants, both owned by Union Square Cafe's Danny Meyer: Tabla (Indian fusion) and 11 Madison Park (New American).

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Appellate Division Courthouse

Corner: Built 1900 in Italian Renaissance style; much care was lavished on the building's exterior and interior art, including statues of famous lawgivers and civic virtues. (There's an empty pedestal for Mohammed, whose statue was removed after Muslims pointed out that they find such representations idolatrous.) Landmark laws were declared constitutional here in a precedent-setting 1975 case.

43: Humphrey Bogart lived here in 1926-27, in the apartment of his first wife, Helen Menken.

45: The Stanford apartments. Named for Stanford White?

53-59: School for the Physical City; "An Expeditionary Learning Center."

Corner: The Provident Loan Society has got to be one of the fanciest pawnshops in the world, with a main office designed for the nonprofit in 1909 by Renwick, Aspinwall & Tucker.


S <===           PARK AVENUE SOUTH           ===> N

South:

102: The Gamut Bistro & Lounge; cozy faux Victorian




110: Tepper Galleries; Auctioneers and Appraisers




122: Ravi Yoga & Spa




130: The Friends House in Rosehill, a Quaker-run residence for people with AIDS, was built in 1916 as the B.W. Mayer Building, a commercial enterprise. Note the terra cotta cow skulls, snakes and Mayan head--architect Herman Lee Meader was noted for fanciful ornamentation. The building was bought in 1923 by the ILGWU, and in 1930 became a trade school for the Electrical Workers. In 1971 it became the first accredited Labor College in the U.S., affiliated with SUNY. It was purchased by the Quakers in 1994.

Rosehill is the little-used name of this neighborhood, derived from the estate of General Horatio Gates, a neglected hero of the American Revolution.

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101 (corner): Strawberry clothing store is on the site of Henry James' last home in the United States, at No. 111, where he lived in 1875 while he completed his first novel, Roderick Hudson, and wrote criticism for The Nation. When he visited the U.S. in 1881, he stayed at No. 115 with his former editor at The Nation, Edwin Godkin.

69th Regiment Armory

Corner (68 Lexington): This building was the home of the Armory Show in 1913, which introduced modern art to the United States. Organized by the American Association of Painters and Sculptors, a group that represented the "Ashcan School" of social realism, the show brought widespread attention (and initially ridicule) to abstract painters like Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh and Cezanne. Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase was singled out for abuse and parody.

The "Fighting 69th" of the New York Army National Guard was ''New York's only official Irish regiment,'' according to New York City Landmarks. The troop fought in the Civil War with heavy casualties, and took part in both world wars.

A state historian notes: ''These armories were meant to be literal fortresses, designed to defend respectable, middle- and upper-class Americans from the 'dangerous classes.' ''


S <===           LEXINGTON AVENUE           ===> N

South:

Baruch College

Corner (55 Lexington): CUNY's business school. Originally the business school of the College of the City of New York, the school was renamed in 1953 for for financier and presidential advisor Bernard Baruch, CCNY class of 1889. This building is Baruch's new "Vertical Campus"--a curving glass-and-brick building that actually makes the 21st Century seem attractive. The Lexington side features the campus bookstore.

This building replaced RCA Victor Studios, where Elvis Presley recorded "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" in 1956. Other musicians to use the recording facilities here include Marian Anderson, Harry Belafonte and Perry Como.

160: The Carlton Arms Hotel is funky place where each room has been individually painted by a different artist.

162: Jimmy's House, old-school Chinese, moved here from the corner to replace Cafe Loon Loon.

Corner: Mike Due Pizza

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151: Baruch College's Newman Library

157: Carpenter's Hall; Carpenters Local 157










Corner: Kelly & Ping Gramercy, Asian grocery/teahouse/noodle shop mini-chain, replaced old-school Chinese Jimmy's House.


S <===           3RD AVENUE           ===> N

South:

Corner: The Hairy Monk, a bar, replaced Pagliacci Due, Italian.

202: The Little Red Pet Shop

210-214: The Centennial apartments; built 1876, presumably. Are the sculpted faces Odysseus and Penelope?


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223: 9th Church of Christ, Scientist

245: Spruce Ridge House apartments. Has Manhattan ever had a spruce ridge?






S <===           2ND AVENUE           ===> N

South:

Corner (438 2nd Ave): Ziti Italian Restaurant

(305 E 24th): New York Towers; 1966 apartment building


Corner: NYU College of Dentistry; the largest private dental school in the country.

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S <===           1ST AVENUE           ===> N

South:

432: Was Municipal Lodging House

VA Medical Center





S <===   ASSER LEVY PL

Asser Levy Park

Asser Levy was an early Jewish immigrant, a kosher butcher, who won an important victory for religious tolerance when he successfully appealed Peter Stuyvesant's ban on Jews in the New Amsterdam militia.

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Hunter College Brookdale Health Science Center

435 (block): Includes the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, the Brookdale Center on Aging and the Hunter College School of the Health Professions.
















          FDR DRIVE          

There is a footbridge across the FDR here.

U.N. International School

(24-50 FDR): Founded in 1947 by parents who were employed at the U.N., this private school has students from 115 countries and staff from 70; nine languages (including English) are studied here.

There used to be a shelter here where homeless men slept side by side on the floor--the subject of the Diego Rivera mural Frozen Assets.






EAST RIVER







Is your favorite 25th Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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