New York Songlines: 34th Street

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HUDSON RIVER









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

The Big Map has a phototour of 34th Street from here to 9th Avenue.

South:

The High Line

Next High Line by edenpictures, on Flickr

Here is the final endpoint of 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; ten more blocks were added in 2011. The last few blocks of it, however, still await reconstruction.

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North:

The Javits Center

javits center by h-bomb, on Flickr

This convention center, built in 1986, is a series of glass boxes designed by James Ingo Freed, an associate of I.M. Pei's. Javits Center Interior by edenpictures, on Flickr It was named for Jacob Javits (1904-1986), who was U.S. senator for New York from 1956 until 1980. He's remembered for his work passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the War Powers Act of 1973.







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

South:

Copacabana

The Copacabana! by DouG!!, on Flickr

560 (corner): Was a huge salsa dance club. ''One of the few places where major figures like Willie Colon play for dancers''-- Time Out. A latter-day incarnation of the legendary nightclub of the same name that opened in 1940 on 60th Street. Now operating on 47th Street

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North:

545: 36 Records, a label and studio associated with the rap group Wu-Tang Clan. One of the group's leading members, Ol' Dirty Bastard, collapsed and died here on November 13, 2004.

509: The final location of Plato's Retreat, legendary swinger's club. In its heyday, it reportedly attracted such celebrities as Richard Dreyfuss, Madonna, Sammy Davis Jr., Jesse Ventura, Paul Newman, Rodney Dangerfield, Ron Jeremy and John Wayne. It was shut down on New Year's Eve, 1985, a victim of the AIDS epidemic.



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

South:





446: Spearin Preston & Burrows, marine construction firm in a 1967 sliver office building.



Catholic Church by mudpig, on Flickr

424: St. Michael's Church, a Catholic parish founded 1857, serving what was then an Irish immigrant neighborhood; the building dates to 1892. Michael is not a human saint but an archangel; in some traditions he is the conveyor of the souls of the dead, like Charon, which is why he appears in the spiritual "Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore."

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North:

455 (corner): In this building, model Marla Hanson rented an apartment from Steve Roth, who harassed her and, when she rejected his advances, arranged to have accomplices slash her face with a razor. The June 5, 1985 assault ranks with New York's creepiest crimes.

433: Shutters Bar; Roth had Hanson meet him here, supposedly to return her security deposit, when he arranged the attack.


DYER ST         N ===>

The Webster

419 (corner): A non-profit apartment building for women working or studying in New York. Opened in 1923 with money from Charles and Josiah Webster, cousins and partners of Roland H. Macy.

Corner (441 9th Ave): HQ of GHI (Group Health Incorporated), nonprofit health insurer.


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

The Big Map has a phototour of 34th Street from here to 6th Avenue.

South:

B & H Photo Video Pro-Audio

B & H=Headquarters by Nimo Photography, on Flickr

Corner (420 9th Ave): Block-spanning superstore of "the professionals source"; founded 1973.

360-364: The William Sloan House, a YMCA building named for the retailer whose store now houses ABC Carpets, is now apartments.




This entire block was once occupied by the New York Institution for the Blind, where in 1853 future president Grover Cleveland was a 17-year-old teacher. He objected to the prison-like conditions.




330: Props for Today




322: Was the Penn View Hotel from the 1920s to the 1980s. The Golden Apple Coffee Shop was on the ground floor.









316: Andrews Coffee Shop

312: Loews 34th Street, 14-screen multiplex. In one of the Fandango ads with the paper-bag puppets, the taxi cab is headed here.

Back entrance of the Pennmark apartment building.





304: The address of a previous location of the Martinka Magic Shop, New York's oldest.

300: License Xpress is a DMV office.

Corner (461 8th Ave): Originally the Printing Crafts Building, now known as 5 Penn Plaza, this building used to house the New York bureaus of CNN and CNNfn.

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North:

371 (corner): Best of the West Gourmet Deli & Pizzeria, Soul Fixins are in the Levas Politopulos Building. In the same building is No. 369, the West Side Candy Store; upstairs is the Endorphin Gym.

365: Soon Bees Beauty Salon

347: West Side Jewish Center

Manhattan Center

Hammerstein entrance by ubin malla, on Flickr

Here is the back entrance to what was built in 1906 by Oscar Hammerstein Sr. as the Manhattan Opera House; the opera hall is now known as the Hammerstein Ballroom-- the worst place in New York to see a band, according to Time Out, though a lot of great bands have played here. Later the place was bought and expanded by the Masons, who added the Grand Ballroom, noted for its outstanding acoustics (and also added "Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite" to the facade).

Warner Brothers and Bell Labs exhibited experimental sound films here in 1926. It was later the venue for an America First Committee rally on April 23, 1941, where Charles Lindbergh gave a speech arguing that England had already lost the war against Hitler.

305-309: Address of the Collegiate Church, built 1914, demolished 1929 to make room for the New Yorker Hotel.

Hotel New Yorker

New Yorker Hotel by Michael McDonough, on Flickr

Corner: When built in 1930, this Art Deco hotel was the largest in New York, with 2,500 rooms, 150 launderers, 92 telephone operators, 42 barber chairs, 35 master cooks, 20 manicurists, 10 dining salons, five restaurants and the nation's largest private power plant.

It was the headquarters for Leo Durocher's Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1941 World Series, and Joe DiMaggio's home-game home. Big bands led by the likes of Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and the Dorsey Brothers played here. Electrical genius Nikola Tesla died in his room here January 7, 1943.

After decades of decline, it was bought by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church in 1976, and served as its World Universal Church. In 1994, the Church reopened part of the building as a Ramada Inn franchise, under the old name. Woody Allen filmed scenes for Radio Days and Bullets Over Broadway in the ballroom here.


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

South:

250: Cafe 34

There's a small plaza called Penn Plaza Park--centered on a pyramid apparently made of brownstone. Somewhere along here was the old Greyhound Bus Terminal, which was a modernistic building built in 1935 at No. 244-248. Sal Paradise sees Dean Moriarty off here in On the Road. Torn down in 1972.

1 Penn Plaza

NYC - Midtown - 1 Penn Plaza by wallyg, on Flickr

A 57-story tower clad in steel, aluminum and grey glass, designed in 1972 by Kahn & Jacobs. The ground floor features the "Big KMart"--not the little kind you're used to.

Separated from the discount behemoth by a pedestrian walkway is Bruce's Burger Drive-In; the name is ironic (because you can only walk to it), but there are license plates and 1950s kitsch for decor, and the Daily News declared it to be one of the five cleanest public restaurants in Manhattan. Plus the burgers are pretty good. Also on this walkway are Rosa's Pizza and Penn Plaza Florist.

Another building numbered 1 Penn Plaza houses Cohen's Fashion Optical and Barricini Candy/Ice Cream.

The metal-and-glass Long Island Railroad Entrance Pavilion is called "elegant" by the AIA Guide.

200: Tourneau, multilingual watch store Day 8 - One Penn Plaza by saebaryo, on Flickr

Corner (430 7th Ave): Footaction USA

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267: Dolce Fashion

265: Zanouba

263: Bag Man

257: Today's Woman II

249: Conway, clothes bargains; Footco USA


225: Pennsylvania Building, a 1925 Renaissance Revival building, also known as 14 Penn Plaza.

219: Extasy clothing by Blaise K, on Flickr

215: Howard Johnson Inn is at the address of Paddy's Clam House, which opened here in 1900; J.P. "Paddy" White claimed to have served 10 million lobsters in his 50+ year career.

213: Jumping Casual

NYC - Nelson Tower by wallyg, on Flickr

(450 7th Ave): Nelson Tower; at 46 stories, this 1931 art deco building is said to be the tallest in the Garment District (though 1 Penn Plaza has it beat).






7th Avenue traffic by kevin813, on Flickr

201 (corner): Citibank; seal on the building is old enough to say "National City Bank of New York."


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

South:

Corner (435 7th Ave): H&M, Swedish discount fashions.

152: Tad's Steaks; old-time chain serves not-bad food at un-New York prices.

144: Old Navy; the AIA Guide compares this 1999 building to "an Art Deco Navy blimp hangar."

142: Record Explosion

140: Skechers, skate fashions

138: Herald House of Leathers

136: Parade of Shoes

130: Sephora

128: Cliquers ("join the clique") used to be A.S. Beck, whose Deco logo can still be seen.

116: Address of the old Herald Square Hotel, whose chief claim to fame is that it was home to Ida Wood, the Recluse of Herald Square; she checked into the hotel in 1907 and didn't leave her suite until 1931, about a year before her death. She had nearly a million dollars in cash stashed away in her rooms. Once a socialite who danced with the Prince of Wales during his 1860 visit to New York, she was married to Benjamin Wood, publisher of the Daily News (not related to the present-day tabloid) and brother of two-time mayor Fernando Wood; she ran the paper after her husband's death. After her own death, it emerged that she was not the daughter of a Louisiana planter, as she had claimed; she was actually Ellen Wood, an Irish immigrant who worked as a domestic servant before creating an assumed identity for herself and her family.

Herald Center

NYC - Herald Center by wallyg, on Flickr

Corner: Built for Saks & Company in 1901-02, as shopping moved to this neighborhood to take advantage of the new rail hubs. In 1966, after the area's appeal had faded, it became Korvette's. Rebuilt in 1982-85 as a mall with a glass elevator on the corner; Daffy's is the anchor store. At one point the mall was owned by Ferdinand Marcos.

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Macy's

New York by Brian Einarsen, on Flickr

Since 1902, this has been the location of the famous department store founded by Capt. Rowland Hussey Macy, a former whaling captain whose red star tattoo is still the store's symbol (and a whale is still used in sale ads). With expansions to take up (almost) the entire block, this still holds the record for the world's largest store. NYC: Herald Square - R.H. Macy & Company Store by wallyg, on Flickr

Macy's claims credit for such innovations as standardized sizes (1934), colored bath towels (1932), the tea bag (1912), the baked potato (1926) and the department store Santa (1870)--the latter claim to fame cemented by the 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street, set at the store. Another holiday tradition is Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, first thrown in 1924 by immigrant employees in imitation of European street processions. (The balloons were added in 1927.) Macy's is also responsible for New York's July 4th fireworks.




Macy's New York by CeeKay, on Flickr

Almost the only part of the block not owned by Macy's is, ironically, the southeast corner with the enormous "Macy's" sign on it. When Macy's was buying up the block, competitor Henry Siegel of the Siegel-Cooper department store snatched up the corner-- perhaps to leverage Macy's into selling Siegel-Cooper its old space on 14th Street. Macy's simply built around the holdout, and now leases the space above for its giant ad. Currently the corner itself is a Sunglasses Hut.


S <===           6TH AVE / BROADWAY           ===> N

In May 2009, Broadway was closed to vehicles between 35th Street and 33rd Street, greatly improving traffic flow in the Herald Square area.

The Big Map has a phototour of 34th Street from here to Park Avenue.

North:

Herald Square

Herald Square by Smaku, on Flickr

As in, "Remember me at..." Named for the New York Herald, a racist, anti-Semitic newspaper founded by James Gordon Bennett whose offices were directly to the north of this triangle. The paper introduced such features as the gossip column and Wall Street coverage. Later merged with the New York Tribune; the International Herald-Tribune is the surviving relic. Herald Square by selva, on Flickr

The clock and statuary, crafted in 1895 by Jean-Antonie Carles, are from the old Herald building; the goddess is Minerva, complete with owls, and the bellringers, which swing their hammers on the hour, are nicknamed Stuff and Guff.


S <===           BROADWAY / 6TH AVE           ===> N

South:

Herald Towers

Herald Square, NYC by doitintheroad, on Flickr

50 (corner): AKA McAlpin House, built as the Hotel McAlpin in 1913, at the time the largest hotel in New York; noted for its "silent floor" for the nocturnal. Converted to apartments in 1979; the murals of New York Harbor in the hotel's Marine Grill were removed and installed in the Fulton Street subway stop.

44: Fino Shoes; Manhattan Footcare

38: Porto Bella, men's wear

36: Aerosoles; Motherhood Maternity

28: West 34th Camera; Prato Men's Wear

26: Rags-to-riches novelist Horatio Alger lived at this address from 1872 to 1876.

22: When built in 1934 for the Spear & Co. furniture store, it was "a startling Modern work"--AIA Guide. Now houses the Zoni Language Institute and the Learning Institute for Beauty Science.

Empire State Building

Empire State Building by midwinterphoto, on Flickr

This block was the site of two mansions owned by the Astor family--the northern half was owned by Caroline (Mrs. William) Astor, whose annual parties literally defined New York society; the ballroom could hold 400 guests, and these "Four Hundred" were considered the who's who. Empire State Building by btocher, on Flickr

The southern half held the mansion of her nephew, William Waldorf Astor, which inspired the fashion for mansard roofs. Feuding over who had the right to be referred to as "Mrs. Astor," the nephew in 1893 replaced his house with the Waldorf Hotel, designed by Henry Hardenbergh, in order to spite his aunt. (Waldorf was John Jacob Astor's hometown in Germany.) Caroline Astor responded by replacing her own home with the Astoria Hotel, also designed by Hardenbergh, NYC: Empire State Building by wallyg, on Flickr which were combined in 1897 to create the Waldorf-Astoria (though Caroline insisted on the right to re-separate the hotels at any time). The hotel catered to the super-wealthy; B.C. Forbes, of Forbes magazine, used to have a regular poker game there with Henry Clay Frick and other plutocrats. U.S. Steel was born at the hotel in 1901. The Waldorf salad was invented there in 1896, and Thousand Island dressing popularized; the Gibson and the Rob Roy were created at the Bull & Bear Bar here. In 1929 the hotel relocated uptown, and the Empire State Building was built on this site. Empire State Building - New York City, New York / ????????? (??????) by Jose P Isern Comas, on Flickr

With ground broken on January 22, 1930, the building took only a year and 45 days to complete. The architect, William Lamb, said his design was inspired by a pencil. At 102 stories and 1,454 feet, it was the tallest building in the world from 1931 until 1974; there are still only three buildings in the world with more floors. Top of the Empire State Building by lemoncat1, on Flickr

The mast on top was supposed to be a mooring tower for dirigibles, but the idea was abandoned after only one attempt due to chronic high winds--and dirigibles were on their way out anyway. (See Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow for a gorgeous depiction of an ESB zeppelin docking.) On July 28, 1945, a B-25 bomber flying through fog crashed into the 79th floor, killing 11 people. Allen Ginsberg briefly worked in an advertising office here. The Heartland Brewery on the ground floor used to be a branch of the Longchamps chain, decorated in Mississippi riverboat style. empire state building by Ron Layters, on Flickr

The building was famously climbed by the giant gorilla in King Kong, and was a meeting place for lovers in An Affair to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle-- and in King Kong, too, I guess.

See the official guide to the colors of the Tower Lights--and an annotated photograph of the northern view.

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Eye-catcher... by reflexer, on Flickr

Corner (1328 Broadway): Victoria's Secret is in the Marbridge Building, a 1909 structure of 11 stories that was home to the Rogers Peet department store until 1923. ( Rogers Peet, whose contributions to retail culture included price tags and the money-back guarantee, was cited in the musical Guys and Dolls as one of the "respectable, conservative and clean" "better things" in life, along with Reader's Digest, Guy Lombardo, golf, galoshes and Ovaltine.) New York Giants manager John McGraw and outfielder Mike Donlin had a billiards parlor here, which they sold in 1912. In the 1960s and '70s, the women's shoe industry had many of its offices here.

47: H&M, another branch of the Swedish chain.

45: Foot Locker is located at the original home of the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, a business school for the fashion industry founded in 1939. It moved from here in 1959, and is now located on 53rd Street.

43: Upstairs from Steve Madden shoes is the Martinka Magic Store, alias Flosso-Hornmann. The oldest magic store in New York, it traces its history back to the 1860s in Essen, Germany. It was owned for a time by Harry Houdini; it's been in the Flosso family since 1939.





35: Ann Taylor Loft



31: Dr. Jay's New York, hip-hop fashions

29: Stoneridge Shoes

27: Parade of Shoes; Solstice Eyewear



23: Genuine Leather; Nine West



19: Banana Republic is in the Martin Building.

15: Aldo

13: Shoe Mania









7: Fairchild Publications, which publishes Women's Wear Daily, Details, Jane etc. Founded 1892 in Chicago by Louis Fairchild, since 1999 it's been a subsidiary of Disney. Express is on the ground floor. Kurt S. Adler/Santa's World, Christmas wholesaler since 1946, moved here in 2006.
















1 West 34th Street by edenpictures, on Flickr

1 (corner): Site of the opulent marble mansion of department store founder Alexander T. Stewart, who despite his wealth was shunned by New York society, as represented by his neighbor, Mrs. William Astor. Stewart built his mansion in 1867 after tearing down the previous mansion of Dr. J.C. Townsend, the Sarsaparilla King.

The building on the corner now is numbered 358 5th Avenue.


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

South:

Corner (349 5th Ave): Chase branch

4: ZOA House, offices for the Zionist Organization of America since 1974.

10: Greenpoint Bank

14: Milano Gourmet

16-22: Has a great entrance with a stylized grapevine motif; houses the NYC offices of Cornell University.

24: Guy & Gallard branch


34 (corner): Coda, swanky club in the former Hanover Trust vault, has been a venue for the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Glenn Tilbrook.

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CUNY Graduate Center

by Kramchang, on Flickr Building was B. Altman & Co. Department Store; when it opened in 1906 it helped pull upper-class retail to this stretch of Fifth Avenue. Bankrupt in 1989. Now the B. Altman Advanced Learning Super Block, including CUNY's Graduate School and University Center, the NYPL's Science, Industry and Business Library, and Oxford University Press.

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

South:

Madison Belmont Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

40 (corner): Madison Belmont Building has a terrific Art Deco entrance. Houses Domus Design Collection.






50: Yeshiva University's Brookdale Hall

58: Caesar's Italian Restaurant

60: J.L. Wine & Liquors

64: Cafe Gigi, Squisito Restaurant (formerly Viva Natural pizza) are on the ground floor of the Chiropractic Arts Building. This was publisher Charles Scribner's mansion, built in 1865. Celebrated female impersonator Bert Savoy was living here in 1923--the year he was killed by a bolt of lightning.

The Vanderbilt

NYC - Murray Hill: Vanderbilt Hotel by wallyg, on Flickr

Corner (4 Park Ave): From its 1913 completion until it was converted to apartments in 1965, these three grey towers were the Vanderbilt Hotel, one of the city's most fashionable in the early 20th Century. Singer Enrico Caruso lived here in 1920 and 1921, his last U.S. home.

Underneath this building is Vanderbilt Station, a restaurant that used to be the Della Robbia Bar, aka The Crypt. The vaulted Gaustavino ceiling is the big claim to fame. I believe the legend that this used to be Commodore Vanderbilt's secret private subway station is not true.

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North:

Astro Gallery of Gems by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (185 Madison): Astro Gallery of Gems is like a museum of gems and minerals where everything's for sale.


Eden Wok by edenpictures, on Flickr


45: Eden Wok was King's Delight Chinese take-out

47 East 34th Street by edenpictures, on Flickr

47: A 36-story building that went up in 2007.

49: Yang Guang Gallery; Sushi Sen-Nin

51: Innovation 34th Street NYC

53: Pasteur Pharmacy is in the Pasteur Building.

55: DOCS medical franchise is in the David B. Kriser Building.








Corner (10 Park): This 1931 apartment building has an interesting structure. On the ground floor are Mendy's salads; Austin's Cafe, fancy deli chain.


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

The Big Map has a phototour of 34th Street from here to the East River.

South:

Norman Thomas High School for Commercial Education

NYC Night by pietroizzo, on Flickr

Corner (3 Park Ave): Above this school, named for New York's six-time Socialist candidate for president, is a 42-story red-brick office tower, set at a sharp angle to the Manhattan grid. This was the original home of Air America Radio, the liberal talkshow network. There's a New York Sports Clubs branch on the ground floor. NYC - Murray Hill: Obelisk to Peace by wallyg, on Flickr

In front of the building is an Obelisk to Peace. There's also a plaque remaining from the former occupant of this site, the 71st Regiment Armory, built in 1905 (replacing an earlier armory on the spot built 1894).

The Armory is also recalled by the eagle motif in the subway station below. The 71st Regiment of the New York State Guard had its origin in the American Rifles, a militia affiliated with the anti-immigrant NYC - 33rd Street Subway Station by wallyg, on Flickr Know Nothing Party. In 1857, the unit intervened in the 6th Ward gang riots, killing the leader of the Dead Rabbits. In the Civil War, it fought at the First Battle of Bull Run and at Gettysburg, among other engagements. In the Spanish-American War, it fought alongside the Rough Riders at the Battle of San Juan Hill.

Murray Park by edenpictures, on Flickr

120 (corner): The Murray Park, includes Pino's Restaurant, La Difference Nails (since 1984), Furry Paws Pet Supplies, the newsstand Extra Extra Read All About It, and, at the corner, a Guy & Gallard fancy coffee outlet. This 1963 building was the longtime home of novelist Ayn Rand, where she died on March 6, 1982.

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Corner (7 Park): Greenleaf Market is in The Greenpark. In the same building are:

105: Eee's Bakery & Cafe, kosher

107: Villa Berulia, old-school Italian
























115: The Murray Hill, 1980s apartments



















34th and Lex by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (250 Lexington): Was Independence Community Bank


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

South:

Corner: Murray Hill Market was Sim's Food Stores.

138: Lemongrass Grill seems to be the flagship of this local Thai chain. At the same address is Spy Shops, "open to the public"--not for spies only! Channel 2 busted these guys for false advertising.

Affinia Dumont

NYC - Murray Hill: The Right Light by wallyg, on Flickr

150: Hotel built 1986 as the Dumont Plaza; includes the Spafumerie and Le Petit Spa. The statue of the artist out front is The Right Light, by J. Seward Johnson Jr.; he seems to be painting a copy of the mural across the plaza, which was put up by Lillian Kennedy in 1988-- unfortunately obscured by the sign for the Barking Dog NYC cafe. There's also an interesting brick-wall fountain in the back of the plaza.

152: Armenian Evangelical Church of New York is in a Doric 1840s building that was intended to be used as a bank.

160: Part of NYU Medical Center

166 (corner):

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North:

Opus Dei Headquarters by edenpictures, on Flickr

139 (corner): Handsome brick tower is the New York Headquarters of Opus Dei, a secretive right-wing Catholic order. The building, finished in 2001 but looking much older, has seven chapels and sacristies and separate entrances for men and women. The building is referred to in the novel The Da Vinci Code.


143: Spa Meridian is on the ground floor of The Benson apartments.









155 (corner): Warren House, white-brick apartments c. 1970


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

South:

200 (corner): Cinema Diner is in a 1888 building. Upstairs was the Hotel Cavalier, whose name and sign dated to 1940. Recently it was a home for AIDS patients.

206: XII Bar, sports bar with djs. The old address of Ali Baba.

208: Was Rungsit, home-style Thai

210: Was Tre Pomodori (i.e. three tomatoes) --"your neighborhood trattoria."

212: Ali Baba, well-liked Turkish. Also the newsstand Cross Tunnel Kiosk.




222: The Anthem, luxury apartment building whose ads suggest that it hopes to attract self-absorbed poseurs as residents. Replaced the Loew's 34th Street Showplace, a triplex that was here from 1981-99.

































250: House of Wine & Liquor, old-school "LIQUOR" sign.

Corner: Clover Delicatessen, classic neon sign.

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North:

Corner (507 3rd Ave): Carl's Steaks (cheesesteaks, that is); Red Mango

201: Esse Accesories

207-211: Nicola Paone, an Italian restaurant founded by a once-popular kitschy ethnic singer.

Queens Midtown Tunnel

Queens Midtown Tunnel by terraplanner, on Flickr This roadway leads from a tunnel under the East River, opened in 1940 to relieve congestion on the East River bridges. Ole Singstad, who earlier dug the Holland Tunnel and later started work on the Brooklyn-Battery, was the chief engineer. FDR broke ground on the project in 1936.

TUNNEL EXIT ST   ===> N

221-225: The Charleston, a 21-story apartment building that went up in 2007. Replaced the Yorkville Job Center, a supremely depressing employment center.

233: Trattoria Alba

235: Sid's Bike Shop

239: Geraldine Schottenstein Cultural Center began life as an electrical sub-station, converted to the 34th Street East Theatre in 1963. It served as the head office for the Walter Reade cinema chain and later for Cineplex Odeon. Turned into an auditorium for Yeshiva University in 1997.

Estonian House

243: A Beaux Arts landmark built in 1899 for the Civic Club, an organization founded by wealthy reformer Frederick Goddard for the improvement of those living between 23rd and 42nd streets, east of 4th (Park) Avenue. Langston Hughes lunched here with W.E.B. DuBois soon after Hughes came to New York in 1921.

In 1946, Goddard's family sold the building to the Estonian Educational Society. The Estonian Educational Society, the newspaper Vabna Sona newspaper and the Estonian folk dance troop Saare Vikat are all based here.

Corner: Greenpoint Bank branch


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

On September 15, 1776, when the East River shore was half a block to the east of here, British troops landed there and defeated General Washington in the Battle of Kips Bay.

South:

300 (corner): Big brown apartment building





















322: Midtown Deli

324: The Cure pharmacy









340: Plaza East was Mayfair South, a 1961 Leo Stillman design.

344: Eddy's Barber Shop; Pizza & Pita

Corner (593 1st Ave): Kips Bay Delicatessen

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North:

St. Vartan Cathedral

St. Vartan Cathedral by czechian, on Flickr

Block (620 2nd Ave): The first cathedral of the Armenian Orthodox Church to be built in North America, it was consecrated in 1959 and designed to resemble the 4th Century Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin in Armenia. The Gullabi Gulbenkian Cultural Center was added in 1967.

Vartan was a 5th Century general who fought against Persia's effort to forcibly convert the Armenians to Zorastrianism.

The statue on the corner is Descent From the Cross by Reuben Nakian.


TUNNEL APPROACH ST ==>


317: Medical Arts Center; includes Hand Surgery Center. Was Harriet Hubbard Ayer, a cosmetic firm whose namesake was committed to an asylum by her daughter and ex-husband.

325: El Parador Cafe

327: The Pacifica apartments

333: Was Mayfair North, twin of Mayfair South


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

South:

NYU Medical Center

NYU Medical Center by Joe Shlabotnik, on Flickr

400: Built from 1950 to 1977 to a Skidmore Owings & Merrill design. At this end of the complex is the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine, whose name honors Dr. Howard Rusk, who pioneered the field with his treatment of injured World War II fliers. There's a series of four enabling gardens here, designed to be usable by the disabled, which are open to the public.

E

3
4
T
H

North:

403 (block): Rivergate; U-shaped luxury apartment building has a three-story atrium featuring a waterfall and ponds filled with koi.















          FDR DRIVE          

34th Street Metroport

An landing pad for helicopters since 1970.

Joseph Jackson, a 19-year-old black man who was gathering fodder for cattle, was set upon by a mob here during the 1863 Draft Riots, killed and thrown into the East River.



EAST RIVER







Is your favorite 34th Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

New York Songlines Home.

Sources for the Songlines.

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