New York Songlines: 41st Street

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HUDSON RIVER



Pier 81

World Yacht Cruises dock here--brunch and dinner excursions.




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River Place

650 (block): River Place 1 is the largest apartment building in the U.S., with 921 units totaling 908,000 square feet. River Place Phase II will be about as big as the original.



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504-508: Saints Cyril & Methodius and St. Raphael Croatian Catholic Church, built in 1914 as St. Raphael, honoring the archangel associated with healing. Originally an Irish parish, it became Italian-American and then Croatian, when it adopted as patron saints the brothers who evangelized the Slavs.




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529-33: Was Valentin Loewer's Gambrinus Brewery, named for a legendary inventor of beer. (The building featured his statue, as well as a copper-sheathed cupola with a clock.) Producing 200,000 barrels a year, it was the largest of several west-side breweries, as well as the last to stay in business, closing in 1948.

505-515: Were New York Fireproof Tenements, since demolished; 507-511 housed Catholics Boys' Club


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Covenant House

460 (corner): This Catholic program to help homeless teens became notorious in 1990 when it was revealed that director Father Bruce Ritter had been helping himself to homeless teens--a scandal that foreshadowed the priest sex abuse story a decade later. The building was put up in 1970 as the Manhattan Community Rehabilitation Center 8

450: The Hunter MFA Building, featuring the Hunter College/Times Square Gallery. Once NYC Community College's Voorhees Campus. Also houses The New Press, an independent imprint that was started by Andre Shiffren of Pantheon when Newhouse took over that house. Publishers of Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error.

418-420: Was Zion Chapel; Greek Church

416: Was Mission Chapel of Atonement

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Corner (460 West 42nd): Univision, which controls much of the Spanish-language media in the U.S., is atop the former West Side Airlines Terminal. Looks like a UFO landed on the building.

445: Address of Atlantis, a national Greek daily paper that was published from 1894-1973.







415: Site of West Side Polish Democratic Club.

407: Was Knox Memorial Collegiate Church



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346: This was the address of Betty Hutton's apartment on The Betty Hutton Show.

Port Authority Bus Terminal

The world's largest bus terminal, with more than 50 million passengers a year, was built in 1950 (expansions in 1963 and 1980) by the same interstate agency that gave us the World Trade towers. There are plans to add a high-rise office tower addition.

Rosanna Arquette leaves her luggage (and her identity) here in Desperately Seeking Susan; the last scene in Bad Lieutenant was set here.

On 8th Avenue is a statue of Jackie Gleason as bus driver Ralph Kramden--donated by TVland.

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345: Was Hawkins's Brewery, which closed by 1900.

341: A battered 9-year-old Civil War orphan, known as Little Mary Ellen, was removed from a rear tenement here in 1874, in a case that sparked child-protection laws.




Port Authority Bus Terminal

The north wing of the bus station. George Rhoads' kinetic sculpture 42nd Street Ballroom (a Rube Goldberg-like apparatus involving billiard balls) is in this wing. His Good Time Clock can be found elsewhere in the terminal.


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The eastern edge of Hell's Kitchen

On August 15, 1910, Arthur Harris fatally stabbed Robert Thorpe at this intersection for accosting his wife. Harris was black and Thorpe, who was white, turned out to be a plain-clothes cop; the incident sparked anti-black riots throughout the Tenderloin district.

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222: The New Zealand consulate. This is not the building featured in Flight of the Conchords.

Nederlander Theater

208:Built in 1921 as the National Theatre, its name was changed to the Billy Rose Theatre in 1959 after the producer (Carmen Jones) and lyricist ("Only a Paper Moon"). After a brief stint as the Trafalgar, it was renamed the Nederlander after David T Nederlander, patriarch of the producing dynasty. This space has seen the Broadway premieres of such plays as The Little Foxes, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Krapp's Last Tape and The Zoo Story.

206: Hotel 41; described as a "boutique hotel."

Corner (570 7th Ave): The New York Look

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Corner: The vacant lot is going to be the new New York Times headquarters.

The back entrance to the Hilton Times Square, like the main 42nd Street door, features Tom Otterness' wonderful cartoon-like, anti-capitalist sculptures--the Hilton grouping collectively known as Time + Money. The Hilton's lobby is on the 21st floor-- featuring the Pinnacle Bar.

219: New Amsterdam stage door; hang out here to meet the cast of Lion King. In an earlier era you might have met performers like Fanny Brice, W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, Fred Astaire and Eddie Cantor here, when they starred in the Zeigfield Follies, which were featured here from 1913 until 1927.

207: The address of Joel's Hotel, a rathskeller opened in 1901.

Corner: The Red Lobster here has an enormous plastic crustacean outside, but wouldn't you rather eat somewhere that you can't find in your local strip mall?


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Corner (1441 Broadway): Cool ziggurat-like building houses offices of the fashion company Liz Claiborne.

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Times Square Tower

Block (1459 Broadway): This 47-floor office building (2001-03) was supposed to house the headquarters of Arthur Andersen, but the Enron scandal scuttled the deal. Has the confusing address of 7 Times Square.





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Corner (1450 Broadway): This 1931 building houses Walt Disney Theatrical Productions and Nederlander Producing, among other tenants. Cafe Duke is on the ground floor.

140: This was the address of the building in the 1966-67 TV show Hey Landlord!. The landlord lived in the basement.

120: The New York Chess and Backgammon Club, Midtown's premier chess group, rents chess sets in Bryant Park on pleasant afternoons.











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Corner (1460 Broadway): Siemens Building

The slender building next to the Siemens Building is the back entrance to the old Knickerbocker Hotel. Has some of the city's best gargoyles--they look like they're about to swoop down and grab some pedestrians for lunch.

141: Metro Deli

135: Back entrance of Bush Tower, built 1916-1921 as offices for the sprawling Bush Terminal seaport in Brooklyn. Later housed the Wurlitzer company, maker of organs (including the "Mighty Wurlitzer" at Radio City Music Hall) and jukeboxes. Now houses the Times Square Mall.

Verizon Building

Corner (1095 6th Ave): This white marble/black glass tower was built in 1974 by AT&T as the New York Telephone Company Building; a break-up, a merger and a name-change later, it's now Verizon.


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Bryant Park

This area was set aside as early as 1686 for public use; from 1823 to 1840, like many of Manhattan's parks, it was used as a pauper's graveyard. In 1842, the Croton Reservoir was built on the east side of the space, where the New York Public Library is now, and the remaining land became known as Reservoir Square.

The Crystal Palace was built on the site in 1853, a marvelous seven-story exhibition space made of glass and cast iron that housed America's first world's fair before burning down spectacularly on October 5, 1858.

After serving as a parade ground for Union troops during the Civil War, Reservoir Square was designated a park in 1871, and was renamed in 1884 for William Cullen Bryant, poet, lawyer, New York Post editor, abolitionist and park advocate. It was not much of a park, though, until it was landscaped in French garden style in the 1930s, the object of a contest for unemployed architects.

By the 1970s, the park had become chiefly known as a drug market, but since a re-landscaping in 1992 occasioned by the creation of underground stacks for the library, it's become a highly valued urban space. It's the venue for popular outdoor movies in the summer.

Sculptures in the park include an imposing Bryant, Goethe, Gertrude Stein, copper maganate and YMCA founder William Dodge (by John Quincy Adams Ward; (originally in Herald Square) and Brazilian liberator Jose de Andrada --not to mention Big Crinkly by Alexander Calder.

New York Public Library

Technically, this is just one of four research libraries--the Humanities & Social Science Library, to be specific--but this is the heart and soul of the NYPL. One of the world's greatest libraries, the NYPL was formed in 1895 by combing the Astor, Lenox and Tilden libraries. From 1902 to 1911, this Beaux Arts architectural masterpiece designed by Carrere & Hastings was constructed to house the collection.

Authors who have used the library include Isaac Bashevis Singer, E.L. Doctorow, Somerset Maugham, Norman Mailer, John Updike, Tom Wolfe and Frank McCourt. The Xerox copier, the Polaroid camera and the atomic bomb were all researched here. Almost all the information in Ripley's Believe It or Not! came from here--as did much of Reader's Digest.

This was previously the site of the Croton Distributing Reservoir, a massive tank holding water from the Croton River, completed in 1842. Walking along its monumental Egyptian walls was a popular recreation, recommended by Edgar Allan Poe; the base of the reservoir serves today as the library's foundation.

The pink marble lions outside the library are Patience and Fortitude--nicknamed thus Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.


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52: The Beaux Arts Dylan Hotel was built in 1903 for the Chemists' Club, a professional organization. Features the Alchemists' Suite, a vaulted chamber designed to evoke an alchemist's laboratory. Britney Spears had a failed restaurant here called Nyla (for "New York/Louisiana"); it's been replaced by a steakhouse called, appropriately enough, The Chemist Club.














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Corner (299 Madison): Pricey Library Hotel, named for its view of the NYPL a block away, has rooms organized according to the Dewey Decimal System. The terra cotta and copper-clad building dates to 1912.

30: In H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow out of Time," this is the address of the American Psychological Society, where Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee, son of the story's main character, works.

32: The Lincoln Building, dating to 1929-30, was designed to bring fresh air to all offices. The vestibule has a statue of Lincoln cast from Daniel Chester French's original model for the Lincoln Memorial.

Corner (120 Park): Headquarters of Altria, which changed its name from Philip Morris because the old name was too associated with the selling of addictive carcinogens. The 1981 structure, designed by Ulrich Franzen, replaced the 1940 Art Deco Airlines Building. Before that it was the Belmont Hotel, the tallest building in Midtown when it opened in 1906. There's a branch of the Whitney Museum here.


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Corner (101 Park): This off-kilter black glass tower was built by Peter Kalikow in 1985, and houses his offices. A real estate developer, Kalikow now chairs the MTA and is pushing Grand Central expansion and the 2nd Avenue subway. As "Clamp Tower," the building was taken over in the movie Gremlins 2. Built on the site of the 1912 Architects Building.









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Pershing Square Building

Corner: From 1914 to 1920, this area was a plaza honoring Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, the commander of U.S. forces in World War I. Then it was sold to a developer who put up this building, noted for its terra cotta. You can get tickets for buses to the airports here.

Chanin Building

Corner (122 E 42nd): A 1929 Art Deco masterpiece by Sloan & Robertson, noted for the tropical vegetation, birds and fish design that circles the building. The Chanin brothers were developers who built much of the Theater District. Now houses Daikichi Sushi and Apple Bank for Savings.


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Grand Central Plaza, also known as the Blue Cross Building, a 38-story black-glass tower that L-shapes across the block.


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Mobil Building

150 (block): 1955 structure made from pressed stainless steel had the largest air-conditioning system in the world-- and, on the second floor, the largest expanse of floor space.





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212 (corner): New York Helmsley Hotel, built in 1981, replaced the Central Commercial High School, here since 1906. Owner Leona Helmsley's treatment of employees at her hotels earned her the tabloid nickname "The Queen of Mean."


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Corner: Back of the Vanderbilt condominiums







Corner (235 E 40th): Marlborough House; 35-story apartment building from 1975. Named for a royal palace in London.

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News Building

Corner (220 E 42nd): An Art Deco landmark built in 1930 for the offices of the Daily News--designed by Raymond Hood, who also designed Chicago's Tribune Tower. Became the Daily Planet for the Superman movie.

WPIX/Channel 11, New York's WB station, is based here, as is the New York Tolerance Center, a project of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.


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Tudor City

A self-contained development, built in 1925-28 by the Fred F. French Company, in the half-timbered style of Ye Olde England. Few of the windows face east because in those days there were mostly slaughterhouses and glue factories where the U.N. is now.

The area used to be called Dutch Hill, where "one can hardly enter a shanty where is a sober family," according to an 1872 account.

318: Haddon Hall

Hardwicke Hall; has a replica castle as its penthouse.

324: Hatfield House

Corner (2 Tudor City Place): Tudor City Gardens; added to the Tudor City plan in the 1950s.

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305: Hotel Tudor

325: Essex House; lobby features a stained-glass skylight.

Prospect Hill Apartments






South Private Park





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Corner (5 Tudor City Pl): Windsor Tower; noted for its ornate stonework entrance. This building is the target of a bomb plot in the Al Pacino movie Scarface.





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Corner (25 Tudor City Place): Tudor Tower. Tom Hanks lives here in Splash; it's the home of Norman Osborn, aka The Green Goblin, in the movie Spider-Man.

In the mid-1800s, gang leader John Corcoran aka "Paddy" aka "Genteel Jamie" had a hideout around here known as Corcoran's Roost, from which his Rag Gang terrorized the neighborhood.


There is a big drop-off here--it's not actually passable, by car or by foot.

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Con Edison Waterside Station

Con Ed plans to shut down this plant and increase power production at its 14th Street facility. This plant would be demolished and replaced with high-rise apartment buildings and office towers. There's talk of a riverfront park being built over the FDR Drive.







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Robert Moses Park

Moses, despite never being elected to any office, did more to reshape New York City than perhaps any other person--for better and for worse. Among his many projects were Shea Stadium, Lincoln Center, the BQE, the Cross-Bronx Expressway, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and Jones Beach. Among the things he destroyed or tried to destroy: Penn Station, the South Bronx, Greenwich Village and Shakespeare in the Park. He was involved with the construction of the United Nations Headquarters, which is presumably why his park is here. The park includes a ventilation building for the Queens Midtown Tunnel.


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EAST RIVER





Is your favorite 41st Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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