New York Songlines: 28th Street

including Tin Pan Alley



HUDSON RIVER





S <===               12TH AVENUE               ===> N

South:

628: Was (briefly) The Vault, NYC's premier S&M dungeon.






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

South:

554: Eagle is a long-running gay leather club that reopened here c. 2002.

536: Scores West Side, spin-off of Midtown sports bar/strip club.

530: Mansion, New York spin-off of a Miami nightclub, replaced Crobar, another chain club.

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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High Line Park





















505 (corner): Jay Grimm Gallery


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

South:

Chelsea Park

District Health Center

Corner (303 9th Ave): This Board of Health facility features a monument to the soldiers and sailors of Chelsea who fought in the World War--the one from 1914-18. There's also some pillars commemorating various Tammany politicians.

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Block (314 10th Ave): Abandoned-looking building is Morgan South, an annex to the main post office that is used for mail transport and sorting operations. An employee explains that it looks abandoned in part because of "the grafitti-proof paint they used: Spray-paint doesn't stick to it ... and it doesn't stick very well to anything else, i.e. the structure itself."



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

This block between 9th and 8th avenues is one of the few curving streets in Manhattan.

South:

Church of the Holy Apostles

A broad church by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (300 9th Ave): This 1849 Epicopalian church, by Minard Lafever, was saved from the Penn South clearance effort in part because of its unique architectural style, both Romanesque and Italianate. Transepts added 1958 by Charles Babcock. Noted for its stained glass by William Jay Bolton. Now shares the space with Congregation Beth Simchat Torah.

360: Empire View Condominiums. Seems to have been built on church land.

Penn South Houses

Penn South Houses by edenpictures, on Flickr

Built 1962 by ILGWU as middle-income housing co-op for garment workers.

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305: Geriatrics/Internal Medicine at Penn South

Corner: William "Big Bill" Devery, reputedly "the most corrupt man to ever wear the uniform of the New York City Police Department," was chief of police from 1898-1902. He would stand every night at this corner--known as "The Pump"--to accept payoffs and information from gamblers, brothel owners and other Tenderloin entrepreneurs.


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

Ax-wielding prohibitionist Carry Nation was arrested here on September 1, 1901, for obstructing traffic as she denounced the sins of The Tenderloin.

South:

Fashion Institute of Technology

Block: A state university founded in 1944 to provide "an MIT for the fashion industries." Since 1949 it's been part of the SUNY system. Dubinsky Student Center by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner:

The David Dubinsky Student Center (1977) is named for the ILGWU leader who helped found the American Labor Party and New York's Liberal Party.




Fashion Institute of Technology III by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner: This building, a limestone slab reminiscent of Stonehenge that's bridged to its counterpart across 27th Street, is called the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center. Youssef S. Bahri of de Young & Moscowitz is credited as the chief architect of both buildings, put up in 1977.

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Onyx Chelsea by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (362-368 8th Ave): The Onyx Chelsea, 2009 condo building, replaced a building that served as a business office for William "Big Bill" Devery (see opposite corner), and was his campaign headquarters when he ran for mayor in 1903. After he lost, he bought a Baltimore baseball team, moved them to New York and renamed them the New York Yankees.

The restaurant Krour Thai used to be in the corner of the old building.

229: Caxton Building




215: Demerara, club space. Was N'Gone, Senegalese cafe. The Greek Corner by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (322 7th Ave): Cavallos Pizzeria; The Greek Corner


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

South:

Kheel Tower by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (315 7th Ave): Kheel Tower, a 1929 neo-Gothic office building designed by William Hohauser--now condos.

150: Industrial Building has a castle-like entrance. Starbright Floral Design is here; Rock Star NYC, the crystal warehouse, is upstairs. Also houses the Association for Research and Enlightenment, a group devoted to the teachings of psychic Edgar Cayce.

146: Bear Cave/Vault, underground gay sex club shut down by the city in 2001.













120: MCC (Manhattan Class Company) Theater & TADA! youth theater.



116: Cool hip-hop mural.



28th Street by Elephi Pelephi, on Flickr

106A (corner): Note seahorse trim on the fast-food outlet; used to be a branch of Childs, a widespread New York restaurant chain. "Came to New York, repertoire ready/Chekhovs and Shakespeares and Wildes/Now they watch her flipping flapjacks at Childs."-- "What a Waste," Wonderful Town

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Flower District

This area has been home to New York's plant and floral wholesalers since the 1870s.

Corner: Seventh Avenue Building

151: Green (orchids); Mutual Cut Flowers

147: This was the address of three African-American victims of the Draft Riots of 1863: William Henry Nichols, who was killed with a crowbar while defending his mother from the mob; Joseph Reed, a seven-year-old boy clubbed to death with the butt of a pistol; and a three-day-old baby, name unknown, who was thrown to his or her death from an upper window.

145: Twelve stories finished 1914 by Sommerfeld & Steckler

141: Twelve stories finished 1913 by Frederick C. Zobel

135: Agomar Flower Shop

131-133: Associated Cut Flower Co.

129: Dry Nature Design

127: The Plant House

123: OK's Flower Inc.

117: PNK Silk Flowers Corp.

115: NY Flowers

111: Silk Gardens & Trees

107: New Concept Wholesale Flowers

105: C&M Farms; potted plant bargains.

103: P&J Florist Supply 6th ave + 28th street by bondidwhat, on Flickr

Corner (817 6th Ave): The lot that used to hold City Plants & Gardens was to be the site of Remy, a futuristic residential high-rise designed by Costas Kondylis--which would have been the only out-of-the-ordinary project to come out of the Sixth Avenue condo tower boom. It looks, though, like it's never going to be built.


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

South:

Tin Pan Alley

Tin Pan Alley Commemorative Plaque by Adam Kuban, on Flickr

The stretch of 28th Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway was the center of music publishing at the beginning of the 20th Century, when the music business was the sheet music business. The publishers on the street all hired "pluggers" to play songs for prospective customers; the din from all their pianos playing at once gave the street its nickname. The street is now a center for clothing and accessories wholesalers.

The Aston

The Aston by edenpictures, on Flickr

800: A whole row of 19th-Century buildings was torn down on the 6th Avenue side of this block to build this a luxury high-rise. Above a blocky base, the tower is comparatively stylish, with windows layered like fish scales. Also known as the Archstone Chelsea after being bought by one of the nation's largest apartment management companies.

44: Sixteen floors designed by George F. Pelham and completed in 1912

42: Jewelry House Corp was Chas B. Ward Publishing Co. (''And the Band Played On''); also Harry von Tilzer Music Publishing. Later the last home of actor Zero Mostel.

36: Was Leo Feist, Inc. (1900-02)

34: Copa Cabana Fashion Wear

Everard Baths

26-30: Wholesale Center, wholesalers' mini-mall. Was Everard Baths; originally a church, turned into public baths in 1888, serving a primarily gay clientele by WWI. Nicknamed the Ever-Hard Baths, was the city's longest-running gay bathhouse. Closed in 1985. Baudouine Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (1181 Broadway): Clover Trading Corp. is in the Baudouine Building, an 1896 building designed by Alfred Zucker; note the Greek temple on its roof. The Baudouine family fortune was built by Charles Baudouine (1808-1895), a prominent cabinetmaker; his descendants were high-living celebrities, with his great-granddaughter accusing her father in a lawsuit over the estate of having "lived a life of dissipation, idleness and ostentation."

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North:

Corner (816 6th Ave): Bill's Flower Market

57: This building was once a high-class gambling den run by William "Dink" Davis. Tin Pan Alley by edenpictures, on Flickr

55: In 1911, Emma Goldman made this the address of her anarchist magazine Mother Earth

49-51: Paul Meconi Inc., Wholesale Florists was M. Witmark & Songs (''Sweet Adeline," ''Hello Central, Give Me Heaven'') from 1893-98. No. 51 was later Paul Dresser Publishing Co. (1905-06).

47: Another Paul Meconi storefront was the office of the New York Clipper, ''the oldest American Sporting & Theatrical Journal''; top floor was Whitney-Warner Publishing Company (''Hiawatha'').

45: Shapiro, Bernstein & Company, music publisher (1899-1904); opulent office boasted a ''Turkish Corner'' with colored lights. Later the Jerome Remick Music Co., where a teenaged George Gershwin worked as a song plugger (1914-17). Among his customers were Fred and Adele Astaire, a vaudeville song-and-dance team. Gershwin met Irving Caesar here, with whom he wrote "Swanee."

43: Great Magic Int'l and Rainbow Asia Imports are in the former offices of agent William Morris (1903); Morris at the time booked acts for the vaudeville circuit, the U.S.'s first national entertainment system. This was also the office of Helf & Hager's Hitland (''Everybody Works but Father''). In 1892 this was the address of the American Actors' Amateur Athletic Association.

41: Aida's & Jimi's Merchandising Co. was P.J. Howley Music Company (1905-07).

37-39: A 12-story building designed by George F. Pelham and completed in 191l. Imperial Umbrellas was Gotham Music Co.; Harry von Tilzer was also found at No. 37. Earlier this was the address of the Alhambra, a Tenderloin-era dance hall.


























S <===           BROADWAY           ===> N

South:

The NoMad by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (1170 Broadway): House of Perfume is in the Johnston Building, a 1903 13-story structure by Schickel & Ditmars. Note lions' heads, dome on roof. Scheduled to be transformed into The NoMad, a hotel named for the North of Madison (Park) neighborhood. (Maybe the hotel will help the nickname catch on.)

12: Active Sportswear is at the address of the Actor's Fund of America.

6: Stylish brownstone with Western Perfumes Inc. was one of many posh illegal gambling halls along this stretch of street. Opened by Thomas Darden and Willard Fitzgerald c. 1890, it was later run by Shang Draper, who was described as "the king of New York's underworld."

Newland Archer in The Age of Innocence lives on West 28th Street-- probably on this block, or close to it, considering all the walking on 5th Avenue the character does. 246 Fifth Avenue by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (246 5th Ave): Yi Li Da Inc., export/importers, is in a building I find very interesting, with its three-story arch and its asymmetry.

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17 (corner): Young Town Jewelry. This was the site of the Gaelic Society library--same building?

15: Note caryatids on top floor. Ubu Repertory Theater, which specialized in French plays in translation, had a small theater here starting in 1982. Now houses Tada! Youth Theater.






























Corner (250 5th Ave): Broadway National Bank was Second National Bank (1908)--a lesser McKim, Mead & White effort.


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

At this intersection in 1939, Murder Inc.'s Louis "Lepke" Buchalter surrendered to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and columnist Walter Winchell, hoping that he would get more lenient treatment from the Feds than from local authorities. He was executed in the electric chair in 1944.

South:

Latham Hotel

4: An affordable, kinda historic hotel. The 13-story building dates to 1906 and was designed by Augustus N. Allen. At this hotel on June 21, 1957, Soviet spy Rudolf Ivanovich Abel was arrested by the FBI in the "Hollow Nickel Case." Five years later, he was exchanged for downed U-2 pilot Gary Powers.

8: Site of the Fencer's Club, organized in 1883.

Prince George Hotel

F.D.N.Y. wagen 7 the prince george hotel new york city-6245 by edenpictures, on Flickr

14: Once the fashionable haunt of personalities like Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell, this 1906 hotel was the first to boast a private bath in every room. Later a notorious welfare hotel. Still a home for the formerly homeless, now much better run--and it looks great.

28: Painter Mark Rothko lived in this building (1940-43) just before he became famous.

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North:

1 (corner): The site of Black, Starr & Frost, a fashionable jewelry firm founded 1810, from c. 1876 to 1913. Now home to Ultimate Gym Muay Thai, Thai boxing; One East recording studio is in the building, where artists like The Beastie Boys and Flight of the Conchords have recorded. Madison Belvedere by edenpictures, on Flickr

7: There's a public plaza here which was provided by the Madison Belvedere apartment tower in return for the city allowing it to become 20 percent bigger--to 50 floors. There's a gold-topped pagoda on the roof of the 1999 building.







Corner (80 Madison): 80 Deli


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

South:

28 (corner): Ziff Davis Media, publisher of PC Magazine and other technology-oriented titles.









36: Home of the Technology Club-- MIT's alumni association--in 1903.

42: Address of the Ledonia Hotel, which was noted by the 1939 WPA Guide as offering rooms for $2/night--a good deal even in those days.















Corner (400 Park Ave S): For years, there's been talk of replacing the parking lot here with a futuristic building by French architect Christian de Portzamparc-- an asymmetric crystalline structure that would be much more interesting than the usual bland residential high-rise.

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Corner (79 Madison): This 16-story building from 1925 was designed by Buchman & Kahn. Below Scopa Cafe is the Boston (212) Cafe, hangout for Red Sox fans.

29: Chef 28, Chinese, is in an 1879 four-story building, reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm, that was designed by James Renwick (of St. Pat's fame).

31: This 12-story office building by Schwartz & Gross was completed in 1913 and converted to condos in 2006.

35: Bono's Cafe

37: Urena

43: Chicken Delicatessen

45: Was Mesa de Espana, old-school Spanish opened c. 1980

Corner (404 Park Ave S): Walter Haefeli was the architect of this 16-story building finished in 1917. Croissant Cafe was on the ground floor.

SUBWAY:

SUBWAY: 6 to 23rd Street NYC - 28th Street Subway Station by wallyg, on Flickr

In the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three, the ransom for the hijacked subway train is delivered to this station. It was also the site of the first recorded real-life subway crime, when a $500 diamond stick-pin was stolen on opening day, October 27, 1904.


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

South:

108: Butala Emporium, Indian religious icons and other crafts

110: Stony Brook Manhattan, a big-city outpost of the suburban SUNY school

116: Bagel & Schmear

118: Max Nass Jewelry, since 1957. Between the massive pillars is a shortcut to 27th Street.

122: The Black Duck, a bistro in a well-preserved four-story townhouse, named for a 1920s rumrunner.

Park South Hotel

Park South Hotel by amanderbear, on Flickr

124: A mid-priced (for New York) hotel in an attractive 1906 office building.

126: The Copper Chimney, eclectic Indian

128: Little India Stores, spices etc.

130: Taco Express

Corner (118 Lexington): Little Michael Deli has a friendly cat.

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North:

Corner (407 Park Ave S): The Ascot, rather generic 26-story apartment building from 1983 (Philip Birnbaum & Assoc., architects). On this site was the Belmore Cafeteria, a hangout for Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.



127: Tiffin Wallah, veggie Indian. The name refers to a person in India who delivers lunch to you from your home.

129: M & N Smoke & Grocery Chinese Mirch openeing day with Anita by Divik, on Flickr

Corner (120 Lexington): Chinese Mirch, Indian/Chinese fusion, named for a hot pepper. This was, until his death in 1906, the home and office of Dr. Edward Bliss Foote, a birth-control pioneer, women's suffrage advocate, co-founder of the Free Speech League and the author of a children's sex education book involving ''Sponsie, the Troublesome Monkey'' (1874). Foote was the first person to be prosecuted for obscenity by postal inspector Anthony Comstock.


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

South:

Rice

Corner (115 Lexington): Rice, a stylish and friendly restaurant serving delicious exotic varieties of the namesake grain. One of my favorite places to eat. Briefly Kulustyan's Masala Cafe.

136: Coup de Coeur ("Heart Attack"), well-named clothing store; Bollywood Corner, Indian DVDs









140: The Bing & Bing Building, designed by Emery Roth, dates to 1932. Intended for middle-class residents, it was the first building in New York to be built with low ceilings. A reader writes: "Because the developer wasn't sure the concept would take off, the top 3 floors (11th, 12th and Penthouse) were built with regular 10-feet ceilings."




152: Gannon Funeral Home, est. 1924

154: Nice four-story townhouse

160: Was Paquitos Tex-Mex Restaurant, pretty good local chain









Corner (390 3rd Ave): 3rd Avenue Quick Stop was California Farmers Market

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Corner (119 Lexington): Lexington Avenue Streetscape by Mr. T in DC, on Flickr Curry in a Hurry, an afford- able Indian restaurant owned by Kalustyan's. I've eaten here often.

135: Was Stop 28 Luncheonette, old-school

141: The Epiphany School Upper Campus is an 1898 building that the Catholic grade school, established in 1869 on 22nd Street, expanded into into in 1991.

St. Stephen's Church

Our Lady of the Scapular and St. Stephen's Church 7 by H.L.I.T., on Flickr

149: A gorgeous 1854 Roman Catholic church, designed by James Renwick Jr., architect of Grace Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The spectacular murals are by Constantino Brumidi, known for his work in the U.S. Capitol. In 1860, this was the largest Catholic parish in the country, with 24,000 members.

157: Happy Cooking Japanese BBQ boasts of being "open 7 days." 3rd Avenue at E. 28th Street by Mr. T in DC, on Flickr

Corner (394 3rd Ave): Thai NY, not-so-tiny restaurant. This was the original home of Noodles on 28th, closed due to fire.


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

South:

Corner (393 6th Ave): L'Annam, friendly Vietnamese, used to be a restaurant called Tammany Hall. On the ground floor of The Rosehill, mad-ugly apartments named for the mansion of Gen. Horatio Gates, who saved the American Revolution by winning the Battle of Saratoga.

208: Six-story brown brick apartment complex has some character.

Nathan Straus Houses

225 E. 27th: Public housing from 1965, named for a co-owner of Macy's who gave much of his wealth to philanthropic projects, including lodging houses, a tuberculosis sanitarium for children, World War I relief and health centers in Palestine. Straus was a primary proponent of the pasteurization of milk.

Corner (495 2nd Ave): Basal Dali was Fast & Fresh Deli

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201 (corner): Chesapeake House, 20-story white-brick apartments that went up in 1964; S. J. Kessler was the architect to blame. White brick is the curse of 3rd Avenue.

217: The Self-Realization Fellowship, a yoga-oriented spiritual foundation established in 1920, has a branch here in an 1893 firehouse by Napoleon LeBrun & Sons. This site was the original home of Ladder Co. 7, which was organized here in 1865 in what used to be the home of Washington Hook & Ladder 9. Moved out in 1968.

219-225: Five-floor apartments with stern bearded faces over entrances

227: Attractive red-brick rowhouse

229: This co-op, built in 1963, is home to photographer Sanford Hohauser.



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

Kips Bay Court

Phipps Houses by edenpictures, on Flickr

Large apartment complex was built in 1976 as Phipps Plaza West Apartments, part of the South Bellevue Urban Renewal program to provide nearby affordable housing for Bellevue workers. "Phipps" is Henry Phipps, a partner of Andrew Carnegie's who in 1905 founded the nonprofit development group that carried out the project. In 2002, however, people who put up money for the project successfully sued to force it out of the Mitchell-Lama nonprofit housing program.








Is your favorite 28th Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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