New York Songlines: 36th Street

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The Javits Center

This convention center, built in 1986, is a series of glass boxes designed by James Ingo Freed, an associate of I.M. Pei's. 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.



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446: Metropolitan Community Church of New York; a queer-inclusive church founded in 1972. It bought this building, formerly the German Gospel Tabernacle and originally built as a stable, in 1994.

444: Another converted stable.

434-438: Former site of St Clare's Roman Catholic Church and Parish House, built 1903 for a largely Italian congregation; now demolished.


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344: Address of a Greek Evangelical Presbyterian church. The church became the Space for Innovative Development, an art program that housed Free Life Communication, an experimental jazz project involving Dave Liebman, Bob Moses and Richie Beirach. Other groups housed here were Nikolais Ballet, Murray Louis Dance Company and Joe Chaikin Video Theater.

312: Houses off-off-broadway companies the Abingdon Theatre, The Barrow Group and WorkShop Theater Company (formerly 42nd Street Workshop).


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345: Mimi Turner, boutique





307: Pathfinder Press, publishing arm of the Socialist Workers Party, a leading Trotsky-oriented group.


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The eastern edge of Hell's Kitchen

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242: Creative Costume Company rents to the serious masquerader.




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261: SSS Nice Price is a shopper's secret--a permanent sample sale featuring excess clothing from top designers.


Corner (468 7th Ave): York Apartments


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Corner (1333 Broadway): The Johnson Building's ground floor is mostly occupied by Conway Herald Square.

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Corner (485 7th Ave): Fashion Atrium; constructed as Mills House No. 3, part of a project to provide cheap, healthy housing to bachelors. No. 1 is on Bleecker Street in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Corner (1359 Broadway): Lefcourt Marlboro Building is named for Abraham Lefcourt, a prominent Garment District developer; provides space for Kosher Delight, Eurovision Optical and Food Merchants.


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Block (1350 Broadway): Herald Square Building contains an HSBC bank. The entire block was once the site of the New York Herald Building, a two-story Venetian palace built in 1893 by McKim, Mead and White and housing the paper that now lives on only in the International Herald Tribune. Demolished 1921, but its name remains in the square to its south.


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Haier Building

Block (1356 Broadway): Built 1922-24 for the Greenwich Savings Bank and later used by Republic National Bank, this striking landmark surrounded by Corinthian columns is now the New York headquarters of the Haier Group, China's leading refrigerator manufacturer. Inside is Gotham Hall, a dramatic domed space often used for fashion shows.


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Keens Chop House

72: Steakhouse has been a fixture since 1876, when this was the Tenderloin. Noted for its collection of thousands of pipes smoked by notable customers. Also has one of the biggest selections of Scotch in Manhattan--204 varieties.

64-70: Was home to Style Undies and other garment firms.

62: Dersh Fancy Feathers; ostrich and the like.

40: This was the address of British occultist Aleister Crowley from December 1914 until October 1915. Here he gave a peyote party that was attended by novelist Theodore Dreiser, whom Crowley served triple the usual dose. When Dreiser asked if there was a good doctor in the neighborhood, ''just in case,'' Crowley replied, ''I donít know about a doctor, but thereís a first-class undertaker on the corner of 33rd Street and 6th Avenue.í'

16: Was the address of Ward McAllister (or "Make-a-Lister"), who determined New York's elite "400" by preparing invitations for Mrs. William Astor's parties. He fell from favor after authoring the indiscreet autobiography Society as I Have Found It in 1890.

12: Under the Volcano; bar named for the novel by Malcolm Lowry.

8-10: Woo Chon; 24-hour Korean barbecue

Corner (390 5th Ave): Gorham Building, designed for the Gorham jewelry company by Stanford White in 1906. Later Russek's Furs.

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Corner (990 6th Ave): Vogue Apartments







69: The site of Henry's Restaurant, where Ruth Snyder met Henry Judd Gray in 1925; the couple's murder of Snyder's husband in 1927 inspired Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

























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200 (corner): G. Fried Carpets is in a 26-story building once owned by deposed Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

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9: Potola; Tibetan store

11: The Ginger Man; named for the J.P. Donleavy novel, this bar specializes in single-malt scotch and freaky beers, boasting more taps than anyone else in town.

Corner: This site was the residence of John Hughes, the Catholic archbishop of New York, who summoned participants in the Draft Riots here on July 17, 1863, in order to urge peace. This was the fourth day of the riots; some argue that if Hughes had acted earlier, many lives could have been saved.


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36: Novelist Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged at this address.

Corner (30 Park): Comedian Jackie Mason has lived at this address. Mason calls himself "politically incorrect"--which is true, if you think it's wrong to support ethnic cleansing.

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Morgan Library

Block: Based on the collections of financier J.P. Morgan, this private library contains amazing treasures, including the original journals of H.D. Thoreau, the manuscript of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, three Gutenberg Bibles, the nation's largest group of Rembrandt etchings and the world's most comprehensive collection of Gilbert and Sullivan material. Closed for expansion until 2006.

Corner (219 Madison): This part of the Morgan Library, built in 1928 to a Charles McKim design, houses J.P. Morgan's personal collection--appropriately, since it was built on the site of the mansion Morgan (Sr.) lived in from 1880 until his death in 1913. Morgan, the leading capitalist of his era, was responsible for creating both U.S. Steel and General Electric.

29: Pierpont Morgan Library Store

33: More of the Morgan Library.


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125: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt lived here from their 1905 honeymoon until 1908; they referred to this brownstone as their "14-foot mansion."



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Sniffen Court

150-158: A captivating courtyard built in 1863 and 1864 as stables, and converted to housing in the 1910s. They were home to artists like Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, who lived here from 1913-1937, and Malvina Hoffman (a student of Rodin's who created the Field Museum's Hall of Man), a resident from 1915 to 1966. Professor Irwin Corey, the world's foremost authority, moved here in 1975. The cover of The Doors' Strange Days album was shot here.

There's a small theater here which has been variously used by the Sniffen Court Dramatic Society, the Amateur Comedy Club and the Murray Hill Comedy Club.

The courtyard is supposedly named after John Sniffen, a builder, but his connection is undocumented.

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137 (corner): Carlton Regency Apartments





















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205 (corner): Murray Hill Post Office


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St Vartan's Park

Sadly enough, this out-of-the-way, one-square-block piece of green, bisected by the Queens Midtown Tunnel entrance road, is the only real park in Manhattan's 30s. Opened in 1904 as St Gabriel's Park, it was renamed in 1978 for the Armenian cathedral on 2nd Avenue. Vartan was a general who fought against Persians in Albania who were trying to force the Armenians to convert to Zoroastrianism.

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Queens Midtown Tunnel

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.

The entrance to the tunnel is the western end of the Long Island Expressway.


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Queens Midtown Tunnel








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Block (616 1st Ave): This former Con Ed plant is slated for demolition and redevelopment as luxury condos.





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Corner (630 1st Ave): Manhattan Place, a 1984 high-rise apartment building, is situated at an angle to the street grid, creating a triangular public plaza.






          FDR DRIVE          






EAST RIVER





Is your favorite 36th Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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