New York Songlines: 42nd Street

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7th Avenue by ehpien, on Flickr

Manhattan's most important east/west roadway, 42nd Street is thought of as the center line of Manhattan (though the actual center is at least 40 blocks to the north). The street gave its name to a Hollywood musical (much later retrofitted into a Broadway musical), which characterized it as "naughty, bawdy, gawdy, sporty 42nd Street." While giving his regards to Broadway, George Cohan asks that we "tell all the gang at 42nd Street that I will soon be there."





HUDSON RIVER









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The Big Map has a phototour from here to 8th Avenue.

South:

River Place

650 (corner): River Place 1 is the largest apartment building in the U.S., with 921 units totaling 908,000 square feet. Lucky Strike Lanes is on the ground floor.

This block was formerly used for natural gas storage.






Silver Towers at River Place

New York by Brian Einarsen, on Flickr

600 (corner): Two 60-story residential towers built by Larry Silverstein and designed by Costas Kondylis.

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Corner (520 12th Ave): The People's Republic of China Trade Mission to the U.S. occupies the former Sheraton Hotel.

635: Atelier is a 46-story condo from 2006 designed by Costas Kondylis, distinguished by the staggered notches on its facade. Lindsey Lohan owned a unit here briefly. Shira Golding by mounted unit headquarters, on Flickr

625: Was the NYPD Mounted Police Unit Head- quarters. The unit was founded in 1871, largely to control reckless carriage drivers in Central Park. Many of the original mounted police were former Union cavalry officers, and the unit's triangular insignia resembles the cavalry's badges. The horses moved to Pier 76 to make room for condos.

This address was earlier the New York sales office of Mack Trucks.

605 (corner): The address of another Costas Kondylis-designed project, a 57-story wedge-shaped tower with a skinnier twin that together would have 938 condo units. The effort seems to have fallen victim to the housing bust.


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South:

558: The address of McNamee's Bar, which became Moynihan's after it was bought by Daniel Patrick Moynihan's mother sometime after World War II. The future senator lived here after his father left his mother, sending his wife and son into poverty.

534: The Deuce, eight-story slab of "architectural concrete" built in 2009, replaced the Jose Quintero Theatre, called "one of the best maintained off-Broadway theatres in New York City." Quintero was a Panamanian-born Broadway director, credited with rediscovering the plays of Eugene O'Neill.

510: Once a Travelodge and then a homeless shelter, this three-story building is supposed to be turned into a gay-themed hotel and dance club called The Out NYC.

500-506 (corner): New York Fireproof Tenement Association's Model Tenements. Built c. 1900 to demonstrate fire-resistant architecture. Apparently they used to look nicer.

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555 (corner): Riverbank West, 1987 high-rise apartments. They were the site of club kid Michael Alig's 1996 murder of Angel Melendez. Includes the Signature Theatre, which features the work of a different playwright each year; also houses Signature's Peter Norton Space.

543: The All Star Project, youth theater program. Includes the Castillo Theatre, an off-Broadway company founded in 1983.

529: The Armory, a former Army Reserve armory (headquarters of the 77th Infantry Division) retrofitted for residential use. The first floor used to house Raw Space, an off-Broadway theatrical complex. Actress Maureen McGovern lived here briefly.

515: Travel Inn, a not-very-cheap discount hotel.

Corner: The Strand Apartment complex at 43rd and 10th wanted to extend to this corner, but the taxi license company here held out.


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South:

460: Was the West Side Airlines Terminal, a building that looked like a UFO landed on it; it was later home to the Spanish-language network Univision, and then was vacant for several years before being demolished along with the rest of the block.

450: John Houseman Theater was part of a Theater Row here, demolished c. 2006; Houseman was the co-founder of the Mercury Theater, an uncredited co-author of Citizen Kane who later starred in The Paper Chase.

444: Was the Soul Cafe, pricey soul food.

440 (block): A block-filling project designed by Arquitectonica that went up in 2010; this was what the rest of the block was knocked down for. Its 60 stories that are to include a 669 rooms from European "pod hotel" company Yotel and a Frank Gehry-designed auditorium for the Signature Theater Company.

436: Was the French Model House, 1970s massage parlor.

432 (corner): Was the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre, named for the early movie star; Vital Theater, Pulse Ensemble Theater and The Tank were also at this address.


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424 (corner): Theatre Diner was the Tomcat Theatre, gay porn house.

422: Little Shubert Theatre, an Off-Broadway house owned by Broadway power The Shubert Organization. Hell's Kitchen Actors Apartments by Digiart2001 | jason.kuffer, on Flickr

420: The Theatre Row Tower, luxury apartment building known as "The Zebra" or "The Oreo Building" for its black-and-cream stripes. Was Harlem Children's Theater.

Playwrights Horizons

IMG_1720edit by newage1991, on Flickr" align="left" vspace="4" hspace="4" />

416: An innovative Off-Broadway house that originated such plays as Driving Miss Daisy, The Heidi Chronicles and Sunday in the Park With George.

414: Chez Josephine, restaurant named for dancer Josephine Baker, the owner's mother. In the 1970s, the massage parlor Geisha House did big business here.

410: The Samuel Beckett, Rodney Kirk, Acorn, Harold Clurman and Lion theaters all share this address. In May 1977, the Palace massage parlor was burned out of this location by the management of Geisha House, with whom it was engaged in a price war. Earlier, as Club Za-Za, it featured live sex shows.

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Manhattan Plaza

This block-spanning project, built in 1977, was intended to provide housing for performing artists; 70 percent of its 3,000 residents are said to be theater people. Tennessee Williams moved here in 1978, but moved out three years later because he found it too noisy. Actors like Helen Hayes, Angela Lansbury, Christian Slater, Mickey Rourke, and such musical figures as Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, Alan Menken and Alicia Keys have lived here as well. This is where Larry David and Kenny Kramer-- who inspired Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld--lived next door to each other. Samuel Jackson worked here as a security guard--supposedly the only non-acting job he's ever held.
































West Bank Cafe

west bank cafe 2007 by korafotomorgana, on Flickr

407: A showfolk-friendly restaurant where Bruce Willis used to tend bar. Downstairs is the Laurie Beechman Theatre, named for a cabaret singer whose career was cut short by cancer. Lewis Black was playwright-in-residence here for 14 years. IMG_2552 by Paul-M, on Flickr It's currently home to Le Scandal, an erotic cabaret that started out as the Blue Angel, an eclectic, women-friendly strip club on Walker Street.


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South:

Have Some Chick Ibs at the Elk Hotel by larryosan, on Flickr

360 (corner): The Elk Hotel is Times Square's last flophouse--a great bargain for travelers if you don't mind shared bathrooms and a few mice. Some customers stay for two hours, others for decades.

350: The Orion, a 60-story condo named for the mythical giant

340: Times Square post office

Former McGraw-Hill Building

Streamline Moderne by drp, on Flickr

330: This Art Deco landmark was built for the publishing company in 1930-31, to a Raymond Hood design featuring horizontal colored bands and dramatic setbacks. Later home to Group Health Incorporated (GHI). Note the metallic sculpture, Owen Morrel's Boomerang, on the 32nd floor.

Port Authority Bus Terminal

The world's largest bus terminal was built in 1950 (expansions in 1963 and 1980) by the same folks who brought us the World Trade towers. There are plans to add a high-rise office tower addition. Untitled by Seth Tisue, on Flickr

Rosanna Arquette leaves her luggage (and her identity) here in Desperately Seeking Susan. George Rhoads' kinetic sculpture 42nd Street Ballroom (a Rube Goldberg-like apparatus involving billiard balls) is found here.

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351: Holland House (formerly the Holland Hotel) was built in 1918 as a luxury residence, and gradually deteriorated into a scary SRO featured in Jonathan Kozol's Rachel and Her Children and described by the New York Times as "a kiddie park designed by the Marquis de Sade." In 1995 it was refurbished and reopened by Project Renewal as supportive housing for the homeless.

343-349: Ivy Tower, 43-story apartment building finished 2003.

Holy Cross Church

333: This 1870 Roman Catholic church by Henry Engelbert was home to Father Francis P. Duffy, who after serving as chaplain to the "Fighting 69th" Division in World War I, helped to clean up Hell's Kitchen. He was Broadway's spiritual advisor, and his statue can be found in Duffy Square, renamed in his honor.

319: Kaufman Army & Navy Store, noted for its patriotic paint job and its World War I cannons out front. The building and neighboring tenements date to c. 1875.














305: National Union of Health and Human Services sex & laughs by Digiart2001 | jason.kuffer, on Flickr

303: The Laugh Factory was formerly Show World, one of the biggest erotic establishments in the old Times Square--part of which still exists around the corner. (It was also the Pantheon Theater, now an auxiliary space for the Laugh Factory.)


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The eastern edge of Hell's Kitchen

This intersection was as far back as the 1920s a center for male hustlers; Montgomery Clift was arrested for solicitation here shortly after his Oscar nomination for 1948's The Search. Tennessee Williams liked to pick up sailors here as well.

The Big Map has a phototour of the street from here to 6th Avenue.

South:

11 Times Square by julio.miyares, on Flickr

Corner (640 8th Ave): Known as 11 Times Square or Times Square Plaza, this glassy 35-story office building was designed by Fox & Fowle and built from 2007-10. It's supposed to get a seven-story aquarium as an anchor tenant.

258: The address of Apollo Oriental Restaurant, described in a 1940 restaurant guide as "specializ[ing] in real Greek dishes."

250: Site of a Horn & Hardart Automat.

AMC Empire 25

NYC - Times Square: AMC Emire 25 by wallyg, on Flickr

236: The facade of this cinema was built in 1912 as the Eltinge Theatre, named for a popular female impersonator of the day; Abbott and Costello debuted here as part of the Eltinge Follies in 1935. It was later a movie house known as Laff Movie and since 1954 The Empire. In March 1998, the theater was moved 168 feet to the west to facilitate the construction of the Madame Tussaud complex.

Hilton Times Square

03/23/2008 Times Square Hilton entrance by erewhon, on Flickr

234: The Liberty Theatre was built here in 1904; George M. Cohan debuted the songs "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" here that year, and in 1915, the racist Hilton Times Square by leon~, on Flickr cinema milestone Birth of a Nation had its New York premiere. Now it serves as the base of the Hilton Times Square, whose 21st-floor lobby features the Pinnacle Bar. (Note Tom Otterness' cartoon-like sculpture Time + Money on the Hilton's entrance.)

At the same address is Ripley's Times Square Odditorium, which opened New York. West 42nd Street. Ripley's Museum by Tomás Fano, on Flickr in 2007 boasting the world's largest collection of shrunken heads, as well as Babe Ruth's Yankees uniform and a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Also at this address is Universal News, a 24-hour newsstand with a strong domestic and foreign paper selection.

228: This was the address of Murray's Roman Gardens, a lobster palace whose decor prominently featured naked nymphs and goddesses. After Prohibition, it was replaced by Hubert's Museum, a famed freakshow that was home to Heckler's Trained Flea Circus. Celebrated by artists ranging from Joe Mitchell to Diane Arbus to Lenny Bruce, it eventually became PeepLand before being subsumed by the wax museum next door.

This was also the address of the Marine Bar and Grill, a 1930s gay bar that catered to sailors looking for rough trade.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

madame tussaud's by gail des jardin, on Flickr

226: The facade dates to 1914, when it was built as the Candler Theater, associated with the Candler Building next door; leased to Sam Harris and George Cohan, it soon became the Cohan and Harris Theatre and by 1921 was known as The Harris. John Barrymore set a record here by playing Hamlet 101 nights in a row. From 1933 to 1989 it was a movie house; in 1997 the theater was demolished and the wax museum constructed behind the Harris' facade.

220: The Candler Building was built in 1914 to house the offices of Asa Candler, owner of Coca-Cola.

218: The Disney Store--ground zero of Disneyfication. Formerly Peep Land.

New Amsterdam Theater

New Amsterdam by Jeff Tabaco, on Flickr

214: This Art Nouveau masterpiece opened in 1903, the same night as the Lyceum, making them the two oldest Broadway theaters still operating. This one housed the Zeigfield Follies from 1913 until 1927, featuring such stars as Fanny Brice, W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, Fred Astaire and Eddie Cantor. Composers like Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and Victor Herbert wrote for the Follies. The roof featured another theater, known as the Midnight Frolic. It was turned into a movie palace in 1937.

By 1993, when Disney took it over, it was so decrepit that renovation cost $34 million (mostly paid for by the city). Opened in 1997; The Lion King, which premiered here later that year, has been going strong ever since.

210: The address of Chase's Cafeteria, a ''hoodlum'' hangout that appears in On the Road as ''Ritzy's Bar.'' Alfred Kinsey researched human sexuality here in 1945. Ernst & Young - Time Square by technochick, on Flickr

Corner (5 Times Square): Offices of financial firm Ernst & Young; the sporting goods store Champs is on the ground floor. Giuliani Partners, the former mayor's security consulting firm, is located here-- though considering how unprepared the city was for September 11, it's a wonder anyone pays any attention to anything he has to say on the subject.

The kiosk on the corner is one of the first newsstands to get the New York Times-- sometimes before 4 a.m.

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E Walk

Hastily by 24gotham, on Flickr

259 (corner): Chevy's, elaborate outlet of Mexican chain. The first peep shows were installed in a magazine store at this address in 1966.

255: Yoshinoya Restaurant, a sushi chain. The ubiquitous corporate coffee chain also makes a concession to Times Square aesthetics here with a blinking mermaid sign. 42nd Street Blur by Vidiot, on Flickr

243-247: Loews Cineplex E-Walk; the high-tech sign here cost $2 million.

241: Broadway City Arcade; Cold Stone Creamery



the neon does not give me the blues by incendiarymind, on Flickr

237: B.B. King Blues Club & Grill has the same owner as the Blue Note downtown; has featured some R&B greats.

New 42nd Street Studios

American Airlines Theatre by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, on Flickr

229: Ten stories of rehearsal spaces and a black box theater named The Duke (for the Doris Duke Foundation) are behind a post-Modern neon facade, designed by Platt Byard Dovell and opened in 2000. The New 42nd Street Inc. operates seven historic theaters on the street. Special credit.

Selwyn Theatre

Ceiling, American Airlines Theatre NYC by Monceau, on Flickr

227: Terribly rebranded as the American Airlines Theatre, The Selwyn was built in 1918 by the producing brothers of the same name. (The original facade collapsed in 1997.) Now home to the Roundabout Theater Company.

For 58 years, until it was evicted shortly before the building collapse in 1997, this was the site of the Grand Luncheonette, a legendary hamburger joint.

225: The address of Bickford's, an old Times Square cafeteria that William S. Burroughs described as ''a notorious hang-out for thieves and pimps and whores and fags and dope pushers and buyers and everything''--but with ''excellent food and very cheap.'' Allen Ginsberg used to bus tables here, and mentioned the place in ''Howl.'' Jack Kerouac wrote the short story ''Confession of Three Murders'' here. There's now a Pax Wholesome Foods here.













217: New 42nd Street Rehearsal Building

215: Built in 1920, the elegant Times Square Theater has been empty for years.

Hilton Theatre

Young Frankenstein at the Hilton Theatre by afagen, on Flickr

213: This theater, opened in 1998 as the Ford Center, combines parts of two old Broadway houses: The Apollo, which after being built as a theater in 1920 was used for burlesque and movies before becoming the New Apollo, The Academy (a rock venue) and Alcazar de Paris (a cabaret); and the Lyric, built in 1903 and perhaps most famous for the premiere of the Marx Brothers' Cocoanuts in 1925. Abbott and Costello debuted their "Who's On First" routine at the Apollo in 1936. It later went through a stint as a porn theater; Robert De Niro took Cybil Shepherd on a date there.

New Victory Theater

New Victory Theatre, New York by Walking Off the Big Apple, on Flickr

209-211: Built in 1899 by Oscar Hammerstein as The Republic, making it the oldest survivor in the Theater District. It was briefly called the Belasco before producer David Belasco named another theater after himself. Abie's Irish Rose played here from 1922 to 1927 ("our kids may see it close--some day"--Lorenz Hart); from 1930 to 1942 this was home to Minsky's Burlesque, then became The Victory movie house in time for World War II. Eventually it became a porno house before being renovated as The New Victory in 1995.

Reuters Building

NYC - Reuters Building by wallyg, on Flickr

Corner (3 Times Square): Building housing the British news service, a 2001 design from Fox & Fowle, is noted for its curved video facade; includes the offices of Prudential Financial Services; on the ground floor is Quiksilver Boardriders Club, skatewear. Replaced the 1935 Art Deco Rialto Building (named for an old Times Square nickname, derived from a Venetian bridge).


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South:

Times Square Subway Station

Subway Sign by _MaO_, on Flickr This is the busiest station in the system, handling 11 subway lines and half a million passengers a day. 42nd and Broadway by Nose in a book, on Flickr

It features a large mural by Roy Liech- tenstein, among other art. The Cricket in Times Square is set in a newsstand here.

Uptown: Times Square subway by Ddrucki, on Flickr
1/9/A to 59th Street
2/3 to 72nd Street
N/R to 57th Street
C/E to 50th Street Times Square Subway by andy in nyc, on Flickr

Downtown:
1/2/3/9 to 34th Street
N/R to 34th Street
A/C/E to 34th Street

Crosstown:
7 to 5th Avenue
S to Grand Central

Times Square Tower

NYC - Times Square: Times Square Tower and Ernst & Young National Headquarters by wallyg, on Flickr

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 fake and confusing address of 7 Times Square.

The Times Square Brewery, a post-Disneyfication microbrewery, used to be on this site; it had a half-scale model of a Concorde on its roof. Earlier it was the location of the Heidelberg Building, aka the Crossroads Building, a white elephant from its 1910 construction until its 1984 NYC: Times Square Tower by wallyg, on Flickr demolition. Built with an 11-story tower atop a seven-floor base, it was meant primarily as a platform for ads, but would-be advertisers pointed out that you had to be blocks from the crowds in Times Square to see the tower. Plans over the years to transform in into a hotel, an auto showroom or a taller office tower fizzled over the years. It had its greatest moment of glory in 1912, when Harry Houdini escaped from a straitjacket while being suspended over the edge of the building.

Prior to that, the Hotel Metropole was on this block.

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One Times Square

NYC: Times Square by wallyg, on Flickr

It was Longacre Square (named for a London plaza) until the New York Times made a surprise move from Newspaper Row downtown to what was then the edge of the city, suddenly made accessible by subway. (It replaced the Pabst Hotel on the site.) Building an Italian Renaissance castle on the spot, the paper got the city to rename first the subway stop and then the square after itself.

The paper celebrated moving in on New Year's Eve, 1904, with a fireworks display--starting the tradition of Times Square as the place to be on December 31. The ball, which used to drop from Trinity Church NYC - Times Square: Mototron by wallyg, on Flickr downtown, has been dropping from here since 1908. The Times moved off the Square in 1913, but the name has stuck.

The world's first illuminated news ticker (dubbed the "Motogram") circles the building; it got its start reporting the 1928 election returns. (Hoover won.) Times Square by edenpictures, on Flickr

The tower was modernized by new owners Allied Chemical, who moved out in 1975. Since then the building has mostly been a place to put giant signs. The ground floor was a Warner Brothers store for a while.

























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"The Crossroads of the World"

South:

Former Knickerbocker Hotel

Gap in Time Square by tedwang, on Flickr

Corner: Built between 1901 and 1906 for John Jacob Astor IV, this Renaissance Eclectic structure was once one of the city's most fashionable hotels, housing celebrities like George M. Cohan and Enrico Caruso (who used to serenade fans from the balcony of his suite). The hotel's King Cole Bar was noted for its Maxfield Parrish mural, which now graces a bar of the same name at the St Regis-Sheraton.

The hotel later became known as the Newsweek Building when it housed the newsweekly's offices.

150: Les Nouveautes

140: Address of the mansion of Jane Lawrence De Forest Hull, a socialite whose murder was the notorious crime of 1879: Her erstwhile lover, Chastine Cox, tied her up while robbing her, accidentally suffocating her with a bedsheet.

136: 42nd Street Bazaar Flea Market

130-132: 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

1095 Ave of the Americas by joesixpacktech, on Flickr

Corner (1095 6th Ave): This 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. It got a complete facelift in 2008, replacing its vertically striped white marble/black glass facade with a more generic green glass curtain.

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Conde Nast Building

Conde Nast Building, Times Square by dsjeffries, on Flickr

Corner (4 Times Square): This 1999 Fox & Fowle building houses The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ, Wired and other Conde Nast publications. Noted for having a glitzy glass face on the Times Square side (including the NASDAQ video facade) and a more demure masonry cliff on 42nd Street. Avant garde architect Frank Gehry designed the cafeteria.

141: From c. 1949 until the mid-1990s, was the address of Adler Shoes, whose sign advertised Elevator shoes: "Build up your ego, Amigo!/ Now you can be taller than she is." Now torn down, along with the rest of this block to 6th Avenue.

135: Chashama New York, a non-profit theater project founded in 1995 whose work often makes use of New York's commercial landscape, converted this address along with several other storefronts on this block into performance spaces before they were demolished.

121: Peep-o-Rama was the last peep show on 42nd Street.

117: Was Clark's Men's Wear from 1920 until c. 1990.


One Bryant Park

New Bank of America Tower by kmccaul, on Flickr

Corner: The crystalline skyscraper going up here makes a claim to being the second-tallest building in New York City--but if you don't count the spire (which you shouldn't), the Chrysler Building is still the second tallest. Designed by Cook+Fox Architects to be eco-friendly. Also known as the Bank of America Tower.


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The Big Map has a phototour from here to the East River.

South:

Bryant Park

Bryant Park NYC by panduh, on Flickr

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. nyc_7-4-05 (2)_bryant_park by minnibeach, on Flickr

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, Bryant Park by peterjr1961, on Flickr 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. Bryant Park by peterjr1961, on Flickr

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

In Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man, a shooting on the sidewalk here provokes a race riot.

New York Public Library

New York Public Library by NoirinP, on Flickr

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. 2008-05-10 New York 087 Fifth Avenue, New York Library by Allie_Caulfield's photostream, on Flickr 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, Claude Levi-Strauss, E.L. Doctorow, Somerset Maugham, Norman Mailer, John Updike, Tom Wolfe and Frank New York Public Library by armatoj, on Flickr McCourt. Poet Elizabeth Bishop met her mentor Marianne Moore here. 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.

A ghost haunts the stacks here in the first Ghostbusters movie; it's a refuge from freakish weather in The Day After Tomorrow and the headquarters of a criminal mastermind in Escape From New York. NYC - Midtown: New York Public Library Main Building by wallyg, on Flickr

The famous marble lions in front of the library are nicknamed Patience (south) and Fortitude (north)--so dubbed by Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia. The Cowardly Lion hides behind one in the movie The Wiz.

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.

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Bryant Park in winter, Jan 2009 - 04 by Ed Yourdon, on Flickr

Corner (1100 6th Ave): Bryant Park Building, built c. 1912, houses the offices of HBO.









W.R. Grace Building

NYC: W.R. Grace Building by wallyg, on Flickr

41: Building with the dramatically curving facade was built for W.R. Grace in 1974; replaced Stern Bros. department store, here from 1913 to 1970. The AIA Guide hates this building; the design, by Gordon Bunshaft, was a recycling of his Solow Building plan on 57th Street.

William Russell Grace, who founded the company in 1854 in Peru, was mayor of New York City for two terms starting in 1880. Originally a shipping firm, the company now manufactures chemicals.









33: On the third floor of this building is Aeolian Hall, an auditorium where George Gershwin debuted Rhapsody in Blue on February 12, 1924. The building later became the CUNY Grad Center; now SUNY's College of Optometry.




25: Starwich, upscale sandwich shop, has an ordering form that resembles an SAT test.









13: The female-centric tearoom chain Schrafft's had a branch here. NYC - Midtown: Salmon Tower by wallyg, on Flickr

11: Salmon Tower (York & Sawyer, 1927) houses NYU's Midtown Center for Continuing Education. Note the months (with corresponding zodiac sign) around the entrance, and the figures above representing the professions. The ground floor features Mets Clubhouse sports souvenirs and sandwich joint Cosi Downtown [sic]. This was the final home of Coliseum Books (a highly regarded bookstore relocated from Columbus Circle), from 2003-07.





































500 Fifth Avenue by massmatt, on Flickr

Corner (500 5th Ave): The Transportation Building originally housed offices of national railroads; later it became a center for international airlines. Nat Sherman, tobacconist to the world, is on the ground floor. This building appears in the 1946 film noir The Dark Corner as the "Grant Building," where a character is thrown from a dentist office on the 31st floor--where, in fact, a dentist office can be found today.


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South:

2: Bell Security Guard Co.

12: Garden Won Chinese Noodle Shop

16: This was the last store (here from 1915 until the mid-1980s) of the Rogers, Peet clothing chain, which helped introduce such innovations as the fabric label, the money-back guarantee and the use of illustrations of merchandise in advertising. Actor John Barrymore worked for a time drawing cartoons for Rogers, Peet ads.









20: 42nd Eatery 300 Madison by ernestkoe, on Flickr

Corner (300 Madison): This ghostly glass prism was designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill and completed in 2003. PricewaterhouseCoopers occupies most of its 1.2 million square feet.

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505 5th Avenue by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (505 5th Ave): A glassy 27-story building from 2004, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. There was a Bickford's cafeteria at this address in the mid-20th Century.

Corner (501 5th Ave): Peck & Peck, an elite men's wear shop, moved here from the Flatiron district in 1910, one of the first major retail outlets to move above 42nd Street.

1: Note fishes on doorways.

5: Emigrant Savings Bank

15: Doi Camera

19: The site of the Manhattan Hotel, where Sigmund Freud stayed in August 1909 on his only visit to the United States. In May 1916, Sen. Warren G. Harding began his affair with Nan Britton here--a relationship that continued after Harding was elected president.

Corner (330 Madison): The Sperry & Hutchinson Building is the home of S&H Green Stamps. The Kahn & Jacobs building dates to 1964; replaced the Manhattan Hotel as well as the National City Bank. A Citibank branch is on the ground floor.


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The Fantastic Four's headquarters, the Baxter Building (later rebuilt as Four Freedoms Plaza) is located at this intersection--I don't think a particular corner is ever specified.

South:


60: 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.

70: Barclay Rex, Tobacconist Since 1910

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.

Altria by Randy Levine, on Flickr


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NYC - Pershing Square by wallyg, on Flickr

Part of Park Avenue rises here to allow traffic to flow around Grand Central; underneath the overpass is the Pershing Square Central Cafe.

Corner:

Pershing Square Building

100 (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.

Cipriani's 42nd Street

cipriani02 by Johnnie Utah, on Flickr

110: The monumental entrance to what was erected in 1923 as the Bowery Savings Bank leads to "one of the great spaces of New York" (AIA Guide). Now holds a spin-off of the restaurant of the Sherry Netherland.

Chanin Building

Manhattan Art Deco by cogito ergo imago, on Flickr

122 (corner): 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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Corner (317 Madison):

51 (corner): Modell's sporting goods


VANDERBILT AVE N =>

Grand Central Terminal

NYC - Grand Central Terminal by wallyg, on Flickr

Has 67 tracks arriving at 44 platforms-- more than any other train station in the world. The site became a rail terminal in 1854, when the Common Council banned steam locomotives below 42nd Street; horse-drawn trolleys took passengers the rest of the way downtown. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt built the Grand Central Depot here in 1871, a metal and glass structure that was reconfigured by 1900 as Grand Central Station. Between 1903 and 1913, the current Beaux Arts landmark was built, designed by Warren & Wetmore with help from Reed & Stern. Oak and acorn motifs are used throughout, a reference to Vanderbilt's motto, ''Great oaks from little acorns grow.'' Grand Central Station by KM&G-Morris, on Flickr

The terminal's Grand Concourse is noted for its ceiling constellations; they appear to be backwards, since they're based on an old-fashioned star globe that depicted the stars from the "outside." They look much better since the terminal's 1998 renovation. The staircase here was inspired by the Paris Opera. Terry Gilliam filmed commuters in the Concourse all breaking into a waltz in The Fisher King.

The terminal features many restaurants, including the famous Oyster Bar with its vaulted ceiling. Outside the Oyster Bar is the Whispering Gallery, an acoustical marvel that's featured in John Crowley's novel Little, Big. Grand Central Oyster Bar by Tanguero, on Flickr

The 42nd Street facade features a massive sculpture of Mercury flanked by Hercules and Minerva-- representing commerce, strength and wisdom.

Grand Hyatt Hotel

Grand Hyatt New York by Rob Lee, on Flickr

125 (corner): Was the Commodore Hotel, built in 1920 and named after Commodore Vanderbilt, who built Grand Central. Here in 1948 Richard Nixon, heading the House Un-American Activities Committee, confronted accused spy Alger Hiss with his accuser, Whittaker Chambers. Earlier, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were thrown out of here after being thrown out of the Biltmore.


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South:

Mobil Building

Stainless Steel beauty by sidewalk story, on Flickr

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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Chrysler Building

The Chrysler building by WordRidden, on Flickr

When it was built in 1930, the 123-foot spire was added at the last minute to make it the tallest building in the world--for a few months, until surpassed by the Empire State Building. Still makes the ESB look square. William Van Alen's design uses automobile themes throughout; the 100-by-97-foot tribute to transportation on the lobby's ceiling is said to be the largest mural in the world. The first color TV transmissions ever were broadcast from here by CBS on September 3, 1940. Writer James Agee is said to have dangled himself out a window of Fortune magazine's 50th floor offices here. The spire serves as a lair in the cult monster movie Q.

The building is slightly askew to the Manhattan grid because the property line follows the 18th Century East Post Road. The site was previously the Bloomingdale Brewery, the city's largest beer-maker.

Chrysler Building by Chris in Philly '08, on Flickr

155: The Trylon Towers, glass pyramids added the Chrysler Building complex by Philip Johnson and Alan Ritchie in 2001. Houses an event space run by the Capital Grille steakhouse.

Corner (660 3rd Ave): The Kent Building, also known as the Chrysler Building East. A 1952 Reinhard, Hofmeister & Walquist design was reworked in 1998 by Philip Johnson.


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South:

Corner: New York's last Automat was here, closing in 1990.

202: A five-story Romanesque Revival townhouse from the 1880s gives an idea of what 42nd Street looked like in the 19th Century.

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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News Building

NYC: Daily News Building by wallyg, on Flickr

220 (block): 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. It became the Daily Planet for the Superman movie. The lobby features an enormous rotating globe.

The Daily News moved out in 1994, but 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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201 (corner): This 1965 highrise is called the Xerox Building.












209: Osteria Laguna; the name means something like "Lagoon Inn," and is appropriately Venetian.



















235: Pfizer World Headquarters; offices of the company that gave us Viagra.


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South:

300 (corner): Innovation Luggage

Tudor City

britts apr2006 18 by dsearls, on Flickr

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.

304: Crowne Plaza at the United Nations; Built in 1931 as the Tudor Hotel.

310: United Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. Built in 1871, this church predates Tudor City, but its architecture meshes with (and perhaps inspired?) the development's neo-Gothic style. The church used to be at street level, but the street was lowered considerably to separate Tudor City from the disagreeable neighborhood.

320: Woodstock Tower; a 1928 Neo-Gothic building.

Tudor Grove Playground was opened in 1950, along with its counterpart across the street.

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Corner (800 2nd Ave): McFadden's Bar & Restaurant; opened December 31, 1999. There seems to be a number of these in different cities.






Ford Foundation Building

321: This well-regarded Modernist building, built in 1967 to a design by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, features a stunning 130-foot atrium with full-grown trees. On the downside, the foundation was created by an anti-Semite, and has a history of working with the CIA.

Ford Foundation by Rafael Chamorro, on Flickr








Mary O'Connor Playground is named for a community activists who played a key role in keeping Tudor City from building new housing atop these playgrounds.


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The lowering of 42nd Street makes this street an overpass. Matt Damon proposes a meeting with his CIA pursuer here in the film The Bourne Ultimatum.

South:

Corner (25 Tudor Place): Tudor Tower, part of Tudor City. 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.

















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Corner (45 Tudor City Place): Prospect Tower, part of the Tudor City complex. Houses L'Impero, well-regarded Italian.

Ralph J. Bunche Park

NYC - Ralph J. Bunche Park - Peace Form One Sculpture by wallyg, on Flickr

This small park commemorates the African-American U.N. official who received a Nobel Peace Prize for leading the Palestine Peace Commission in 1947. The sculpture here is Daniel LaRue Johnson's Peace Form One. The Isaiah Wall on the edge of the park, a gift from New York City, bears the hopeful message "They Shall Beat Their Swords Into Plowshares...." The stairs leading up to Tudor City are called The Shcharansky Steps, named for the Soviet dissident in an effort to embarrass the U.S.S.R.


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South:

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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United Nations Headquarters

The United Nations Building by stevecadman, on Flickr

This land, formerly used by slaughterhouses, gas works and the like, was going to be developed by William Zeckendorf into a futuristic housing/retail complex called X-City. When that fell through, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave the U.N. the money to buy it for its headquarters, to spare New York the embarrassment of having the world organization base itself in Philadelphia instead.

Construction began in 1947, following the design of an international architectural committee, with Switzerland's Le Corbusier probably the most famous and influential member. The Secretariat Building, 544 feet high and only 72 feet thick, is counterbalanced by the General Assembly Building, where Nikita Kruschev banged his shoe on the table in 1960. The building closest to 42nd Street is the Dag Hammarskjold Library, built in 1963 and named for the two-term U.N. secretary general. Hammarskjold died in a plane crash in 1961 while on a peace mission to the Congo.


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The first large-scale pencil factory in the U.S. was built near this spot in 1861 by John Eberhard Faber.



EAST RIVER







Is your favorite 42nd Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

New York Songlines Home.

Sources for the Songlines.

Virtual 42nd Street is a site about the street's history.

Wired New York Forum has a long post with many pictures about development on West 42nd.

New York History has excerpts from Marc Eliot's Down 42nd Street.

If you enjoy the New York Songlines, please link to them from your website. A link to a particular intersection looks like this: http://www.nysonglines.com/8st.htm#3av.

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