Corner: "I wanna see the Hippodrome,"
insists the sailor in On the Town, referring
to the namesake predecessor on this site, an enormous
auditorium (5,697 seats) designed for spectaculars
by the team that developed Coney Island's Luna Park.
Open from 1905 until 1939, it saw the American
debut of Cary Grant on August 8, 1920; Harry Houdini
made an elephant disappear here in 1918. It's said that
the Algonquin Roundtable formed when Robert Sherwood,
who worked at Vanity Fair, was intimidated by the midgets at the Hippodrome, and so insisted that his coworkers Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley eat lunch with him every day.
The current building has a Hagstrom's store for maps and globes.
(44 W 44th): The back side of the Royalton Hotel, an old literary hotel stylishly redesigned by Ian Schrager. (Benchley was a longtime resident, and George Jean Nathan
lived on the top floor from 1908 until 1958.)
37: The back of the New York Bar Association's landmarked
1896 headquarters. This was the address of
Cortile, a restaurant described in a
1940 restaurant guide: "Pseudo-Spanish decorations, Negro waitresses,
and American food at a reasonable price."
35: The back of the City Bar Building, a 1922 building that has historically provided offices for lawyers--including Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo.
33: Fire Engine Company No. 65 is a
landmarked building dating to 1898, in an Italian
Renaissance style intended to fit in with the
Century Club building down the block.
27: The address of the first
clubhouse of the Racquet & Tennis Club,
from 1890 to 1918.
25: This Beaux Arts building was from 1925
until 1991 the offices of The New Yorker,
during its heyday when it was publishing writers like
E.B. White, John Cheever and A.J. Liebling. Here Joseph
Mitchell famously suffered from writer's block, coming
to work every day but not writing anything from
1964 until his death in 1996. When the magazine moved across
the street, it took a wall
covered with James Thurber drawings with them.
Now houses the American National Standards Institute, which
helps standardize industrial and commercial products.
23: Bryant Post Office
Princeton Club was built for
the alumni association in 1963. The
Columbia University Club is also based here.
7: This Italian Renaissance building
was built from 1889-91 to a McKim, Mead and
White design that set the fashion for clubhouses
for many years to come. The Century Club is
an artistic and literary society founded by
William Cullen Bryant in 1847, and
was supposed to be limited to 100 members, though
it now has closer to 2,000. Novelist Louis Auchincloss
is the current president.