New York Songlines: 44th Street

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HUDSON RIVER









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

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530: FDNY's Rescue Company No. 1, in a firehouse built in 1988 to replace one that burned down. This company lost 10 men on September 11, the third most of any fire unit.






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

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520: Elias Howe Junior High School, named for the inventor of the first practical sewing machine.








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Actors Studio

432: Legendary school, founded 1947, has taught "Method Acting" to such cultural giants as Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Robert de Niro and Sidney Poitier. It's also provided a workshop for playwrights like Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams and James Baldwin. The building dates to 1859 as the Seventh Associate Presbyterian Church; later the National Amputation Foundation was based here.

428: This townhouse was at one time owned by actress June Havoc-- sister of Gypsy Rose Lee. It's said to be haunted by a ghost known as "Hungry Lucy."

New Dramatists

422-424: A nonprofit founded in 1949 that develops playwrights (Paddy Chayefsky, August Wilson, Madeline L'Engle, William Inge, James Leo Herlihy, Horton Foote and Michael Stewart are alumni), it's based in a former church that was variously the German Mission Church for Seamen (1898), the Evangelic Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and the Metropolitan Lutheran Inner Mission Society.

410: The Alton apartments

406: The Lorraine apartments

Corner (625 9th Ave): Burritoville, local mini-chain--not bad.

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This was the southwest corner of the Eden Farm, which stretched to what is now 47th Street and 7th Avenue. John Jacob Astor bought the land in 1803 for $25,000; his son William Backhouse Astor developed it with brownstones in 1860, leaving this area with better housing stock than the surrounding tenements of Hell's Kitchen.

461: Was Jane's Methodist Episcopal Church

455: The Harding apartments



425: St. Joseph's Home (Model Tenement)











409: Was the address of the AHEPA Center, a Greek educational society.





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

South:

358: Lakruwana, Sri Lankan; Don Giovanni, brick-oven pizza. Was Improv.

356: Red, mid-priced New American with a crimson design scheme, was Fools Company.

354: Bull Moose Saloon

352: Was the Italian Seamen's Club. A reader recalls: "I grew up on 47th between 8th and 9th from 1965 till 1972. I spent a lot of time at the Italian Seamen's Club helping the young merchant marines call home and find their way around the city. Made many good friends which I have lost touch with. I remember Angelo and his wonderful wife Evelyn ran the place. My best friend of 42 years and I had wonderful times there. I was disappointed to see it was closed."


























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Film Center Building

Corner (630 9th Ave): A 1929 Art Deco landmark by Ely Jacques Kahn, particularly noted for its beautiful lobby. Houses several film and video companies, like Cypress Films, the Digital Film Academy and CitiCam Moondance. On the corner is Marseille, stylish French.

345: This was the sales and distribution offices of 20th Century Fox. The McManus Midtown Democratic Association was also based here.

331: Was the Paramount Pictures Building

323: Blue Angel Theatre and Nite Club; formerly a cabaret, now more of a dance club (as in salsa). Babalu is next door.

Record Plant

321: This was the address of Record Plant, where from 1968 to 1987 such albums as Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, John Lennon's Imagine, Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town, Patti Smith's Easter and David Bowie's Lodger. Lennon recorded his last album, Double Fantasy, with Yoko Ono here, and was coming home from a session here when he was murdered.

Birdland

315: The original Birdland was at 52nd Street from 1949 until 1965. A jazz club with the same name opened at 105th Street in 1986; that club moved to this location in the mid 1990s. So is this club truly the continuation of the first Birdland, named for headliner Charlie "Bird" Parker, the inspiration for "Lullaby of Birdland"? The place where John Coltrane, Count Basie and nearly every other 1950s jazz legend played? Well, why not?

The address was formerly Warner Brothers' Vitaphone Building.


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

West 44th Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway has been dubbed Rodgers & Hammerstein Row.

South:

260: John's Pizzeria, offshoot of the famous Greenwich Village brick-oven pizza joint.

258: Angus McIndoe is a good place to spot Broadway stars after their shows. Its investors include The Producers' Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, along with Angela's Ashes' Frank McCourt.

248: The original location of Sardi's (see below), from 1921 to 1927.

St. James Theatre

246: Originally the Erlanger, named for producer A.L. Erlanger. It saw the debut of Oklahoma, The King and I, The Pajama Game, and Hello, Dolly!. The Producers smashed box-office records here.

Helen Hayes Theatre

240: The was built in 1912 as the Little Theater with only 299 seats for intimate drama; a balcony was added in 1917, and it was renamed for the "First Lady of the American Theater" in 1983. Torch Song Trilogy and Dirty Blonde debuted here.

Sardi's

234: The famous theater restaurant moved here in 1927, displaced by the construction of the Erlanger. Founder Vincent Sardi was noted for his generosity; stage folk like James Cagney were able to eat here on credit during lean times. Greta Garbo ate here frequently in the 1940s. De Niro takes Jerry Lewis here in The King of Comedy; Kermit eats here in The Muppets Take Manhattan.

New York Times

The back entrance to New York's leading establishment paper, relocated here starting in 1913 from the tower that gave Times Square its name.

216: The site of Weber and Fields' Music Hall, later the 44th Street Theater; the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers, On the Town debuted here. During World War II, the American Theatre Wing Stage Door Canteen fed and entertained servicemen in the basement. There was a 1943 musical based on and named for the Canteen. The theater was demolished in 1945.

200-B: Ollie's, part of a mini-chain of Chinese noodle shops

200: Carmine's, popular Italian mini-chain, is noted for its huge "family-style" portions. This branch opened in 1992.

Paramount Building

NYC - Times Square: Paramount Building by wallyg, on Flickr

Corner (1501 Broadway): Built for the film company in 1927; the step-like setbacks are intended to resemble the mountain on the Paramount logo. Here was the Paramount Theater, which was Frank Sinatra's home base in the early 1940s, and a Beatles venue in 1964; the space was later the Hard Rock Cafe NYC by L-ines, on Flickr WWE New York, a wrestling-themed restaurant. It's now the Hard Rock Cafe, the theme restaurant that started them all; this one was christened in 2005 with the smashing of 100 guitars. On the northern end of the block is the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., named for the business in Forrest Gump. (Boy, I hated that movie.)

The superhero Captain Marvel was born on the 22nd floor here in 1940, in the offices of Fawcett Comics.

This was earlier the site of the Putnam Building, which was used as a base by racketeer Kid Dropper. Involved in a gang war with another mob leader, the Kid was shot and killed while being sent out of town with an escort of 80 cops.

The Paramount Building has pre-recorded chimes that play "Give My Regards to Broadway" at 7:45 p.m. every day to remind theatergoers that it's 15 minutes until curtain.

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Milford Plaza Hotel

Corner (700 8th Ave): Opened in 1929 as the Lincoln Hotel. Houses the Celebrity Deli and Garvey's Irish Pub.


461: Was until 1994 the address of Mamma Leone's, a restaurant popular with tourists.

Majestic Theatre

247: A 1927 Herbert J. Krapp theater. South Pacific, Music Man, Camelot and Phantom of the Opera had their Broadway runs here. Sammy Davis Jr. began a long run in Golden Boy here in 1964. Jack Lemmon was stood up by Shirley MacLaine here in The Apartment.




Broadhurst Theatre

235: The is a 1918 design by Krapp, named for playwright George Broadhurst. This was the first Broadway home of Auntie Mame, Cabaret, Godspell, The Sunshine Boys, Grease, Play It Again, Sam, Amadeus and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Humphrey Bogart made his starring debut here in Petrified Forest; Abbott & Costello, Carmen Miranda, Helen Hayes, Ruth Gordon, George C. Scott and Dustin Hoffman have all played here.









The Shubert

225 (corner): Built in 1913, this theater named for Sam Shubert is still the center of the family's theatrical empire; actors used to gather in Shubert Alley next door to see whether they'd been cast. Philadelphia Story, Pal Joey, Kiss Me Kate, Bells Are Ringing and A Little Night Music all played here in their original runs. A Chorus Line had a record-breaking run here. Now home to the Python musical Spamalot.


SHUBERT ALLEY         N ===>

Astor Plaza

mtv by azizk, on Flickr

Block (1515 Broadway): Best known as the location of MTV's studios, this 1969 Kahn & Jacobs building was allowed to grow to 50 floors because it added theatrical space--The Minskoff, named for the skyscraper's developer. (Pippin, Sunset Boulevard and The Scarlet Pimepernel had their debuts here.) On the ground floor are Element clothing, Billabong Surf Shop and the MTV Store. MTV Times Square by wooohooo, on Flickr

The building replaced its namesake, the Astor Hotel, a well-loved Times Square landmark. Built in 1904 by William Waldorf Astor, the hotel housed such celebrity residents as Toscanini, Will Rogers, Jimmy Durante and Carmen Miranda.









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Times Square Plaza

NYC - Times Square: Times Square Plaza at 1500 Broadway by wallyg, on Flickr

Corner: This houses the set of ABC's Good Morning America and of Dick Clark's New Year's Eve broadcasts. This corner used to be the Hotel Rector, later known as the Claridge. From 1941 to 1966, it displayed the famous Camel sign that blew real smoke rings. The hotel was home and office for a time to mob boss Lucky Luciano; it also housed director D.W. Griffith while his upstate estate was being built. The music-writers group ASCAP was founded here in 1914 with members like John Philip Sousa, Irving Berlin and Victor Herbert. John Voight and Dustin Hoffman stayed here in Midnight Cowboy.

156: A 1920s neo-Gothic building

152: Virgil's Real Barbecue

142: Osteria al Doge, Venetian. (An osteria is a Venetian inn, and a doge the city's traditional ruler.)

140: Jimmy's Corner, bar run by Jimmy Glenn, former boxing trainer, with walls lined with fight memorabilia.

Lamb's Theatre

130: This 1905 building was designed by Stanford White for the Lambs Club, a theatrical society. Countless show business greats have been members; among those who are said to have lived in this clubhouse are Al Jolson, John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Spencer Tracy and Bert Lahr. The club sold the building in the 1970s to the Church of the Nazarene, which now runs the theater.

120: Was the 44th Street Hotel, where trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke lived in 1931. It was briefly the Townhouse Theatre, an 88-seat venue where on March 2, 1974, the band Television played their first gig; earlier, in January, The Modern Lovers headlined in New York City for the first time here. Now it's St. Andrew's Pub, Scottish- (and Scotch-) themed bar.












108: Sushi Zen, acclaimed Japanese. The "zen" in the name refers to a kind of Japanese table--not to the religion.

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Toys R' Us . Times Square, NYC by Stinkie Pinkie, on Flickr

Corner (1520 Broadway): This Toys "R" Us superstore is noted for its interior ferris wheel and animatronic dinosaur. See images. It replaced the Criterion Theater (at 1514 Broadway), a movie palace that hosted the premieres of blockbusters like The Ten Commandments, Lawrence of Arabia and Patton. Demolished in 2000 to make room for the toy store.

145: Charlotte, New American in the lobby of the...

Millennium Broadway Hotel

143: A large glass tower built as the Hotel Macklowe by developer Harry Macklowe, who cleared the land in 1985 by illegally knocking down two Single Room Occupancy hotels --housing for the poorest non-homeless-- in the middle of the night with the help of the Gambino family. He was fined $2 million, no doubt a small fraction of the value of the hotel.

Hudson Theatre

141: Opened in 1903 by Henry B. Hudson (who later went down on the Titanic), this was the first playhouse on 44th Street. Over its century-long lifespan, it's been a legitimate theater (where Arsenic and Old Lace finished its original run), a radio studio for CBS, a TV studio for NBC (where Steve Allen launched what became The Tonight Show), a porno house called Avon-at-the-Hudson, and a rock club known as the Savoy. Now a conference center for the Millennium hotel.

133: The Premier Millennium is a pricier adjunct to the Millennium Broadway, built in 1998 to resemble an exclusive apartment building.

123: Gerard Apartments were the Hotel 1-2-3, which in turn was the Hotel Gerard, a German Renaissance building from 1894. Houses the Café Un Deux Trois.

Belasco Theater

111: Built in 1907 in neocolonial style by architect David Keister as the Stuyvesant; renamed in 1910 by producer David Belasco, who lived in an apartment above the auditorium. It's had an somewhat quirky mix of plays over the years; Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing!, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Raisin in the Sun, The Rocky Horror Show, American Buffalo and Oh! Calcutta! all played here during their original Broadway runs. Woody Allen's Don't Drink the Water played here--which is probably why he set his movie Bullets Over Broadway here.

107: The site of gambling joint Club El Fey, owned by Larry Fay.


S <===           SIXTH AVENUE           ===> N

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Hippodrome

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. 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.

Beginning in 1988, Philip Pavia's monumental abstract sculpture The Ides of March was displayed here. When it was in storage here awaiting a move to Hofstra University in 2005, pieces of the sculpture weighing more than a ton were reported stolen, but were eventually recovered.









Royalton New York Hotel

44: It doesn't have quite the literary pedigree of the Algonquin across the street, but Round Table member Robert Benchley and novelist William Saroyan used to stay here; George Jean Nathan, co-editor of The Smart Set with H.L. Mencken, lived here from 1908 until his death in 1958. Now an Ian Schrager hotel, it got a fancy makeover in 1988 from Philippe Starck.

42: The headquarters of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York was built in 1895 to a Classical design by Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz.

36: The Bar Building, built 1922, has housed many legal offices, including those of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo and show business attorney Fanny Holtzmann (who had to promise to "never use the men's room"). Famous rifle-makers Griffin & Howe had a showroom here until 2003.

30: The Penn Club was built in 1900 as the Yale Club, a neo-Georgian design by Tracy & Swartwout. Later the Army & Navy Club of America; briefly occupied by Touro College Law School.

General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen

20: Founded in 1785 for the advancement of craftsmen and their families. It moved here in 1899, into a Lamb & Rich building put up in 1891 for the Berkeley Preparatory School. Features a remarkable collection of antique locks.

12: The Mansfield features the M Bar, reading room turned pricey saloon.

Corner (522 5th Ave): This building, a Stanford White design, was from 1898 until 1919 Sherry's Hotel, a symbol of Gilded Age excesses featured in Theodore Dreiser's novel Sister Carrie. It was the scene of notorious parties: At one held by C.K.G. Billings in 1903 to celebrate the opening of his stables, the guests sat on horseback and the waiters dressed as jockeys. James Hazen Hyde, vice president of Equitable Life Insurance, spent $200,000 of his company's money here at a party meant to recreate Versailles; public outrage forced Hyde to flee the country and prompted reform of the insurance industry.

The sidewalk clock here-- once a common sight in New York--was built in 1907 by Seth Thomas, a clock company founded in 1813. (They also made Grand Central's clock.)

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Algonquin Hotel

59: Built in 1902 as the Puritan Hotel, designed by Goldwin Starrett, it's long been famous as a literary hangout--best known for the Algonquin Round Table, a daily lunch attended by some of New York's finest wits. The core group was New York Times drama critic Alexander Woollcott (the inspiration for The Man Who Came to Dinner), columnists Franklin P. Adams and Heywood Broun and press agent John Peter Toohey, who were joined by Vanity Fair writers Dorothy Parker, Robert Sherwood and Robert Benchley. Others associated with the Round Table--which started out meeting in the hotel's Oak Room, and only later moved to the Rose Room, where the table now is-- include novelist Edna Ferber, New Yorker editor Harold Ross and playwright George Kaufman.

The hotel was home to silent film star Douglas Fairbanks from 1907-15; H.L. Mencken starting in 1914 when he began editing The Smart Set; F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934, while Tender Is the Night was being published; William Faulkner in 1950, when he drafted his Nobel Prize acceptance speech here; and James Thurber off and on from the 1930s, until he had a stroke here in 1961. Gertrude Stein stayed here with Alice B. Toklas in 1934 on their first visit to the U.S. in 25 years. Other famous guests include John Barrymore, Alan Jay Lerner, Audrey Hepburn, Simone de Beauvoir, Sir Laurence Olivier and Billy Wilder.

The hotel is portrayed in the classic film Laura; the actual hotel appears in 9 1/2 Weeks.

The hotel's cat is always named Hamlet.

55: City Club Hotel; includes db Bistro Moderne, which sells $29 burgers.

Iroquois Hotel

49: Paul Geidel, a 17-year-old former bellboy, murdered elderly broker William Henry Jackson here in 1911, and was sent to prison until 1980--making it into the Guiness Book of World Records for longest prison sentence served. James Dean used to live here, in a room where a miniature gallows projected the shadow of a noose on the wall. The Clash often stayed here when they were recording in New York. My friend Maureen Herman stayed here when her band Babes in Toyland came to New York in 1992-- a memorable trip.

Sofitel New York

45: An addition to the French hotel chain built in 2000. Includes the French restaurant Gaby.

New York Yacht Club

37: A 1900 Beaux Arts building designed by Warren & Wetmore with appropriately nautical motifs. The club, founded in 1844, sponsors the quadrennial America's Cup Race; its clubhouse was built on land donated by J.P. Morgan, then the club's commodore. (Other club commodores included James Gordon Bennett Jr. and Vincent Astor--but not "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, though he was an active member.) It features a Model Room with hundreds of model ships.

Harvard Club

27: A landmarked neo-Georgian clubhouse designed by Charles McKim and built in 1894. Expanded several times, most recently in 1989.

19: Torre Di Pisa Ristorante

15: Jewel of India restaurant

Corner: Bank of New York. The Fifth Avenue Bank opened in a former townhouse on this corner in 1890, specializing in serving wealthy society women.


S <===           FIFTH AVENUE           ===> N

The Big Map has a photo tour of 44th Street from here to 1st Avenue.

South:

Corner: This was the site of The Willow Inn, owned by Tom Hyer, ''a noted pugilist and brawler more violent out of the ring than in'' (Fifth Avenue: The Best Address). When it was torn down in 1905, it was said to be ''the last bar on 5th Avenue.''

6: Before the Cornell Club opened its doors here in 1989, this building was formely the Chicago Pneumatic Tube Corporation.













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Corner: This was the site of Delmonico's, long New York's most illustrious restaurant, from 1898 until 1923.

5: The site of Canfield's Gambling House, perhaps the most prestigious illegal joint of the Gilded Age. Closed in 1901 in an anti-vice campaign by Manhattan Discrict Attorney William Travers Jerome, its mahogany tables were given to the poor to be used as firewood.

Brooks Brothers

Corner (346 Madison): Flagship of the clothing firm that's been a New York fixture since 1818. Introduced the ready-to-wear suit and the button-down collar. Brooks Brothers was worn by Abraham Lincoln at his second inauguration (and on the night of his assassination); by Charles Lindbergh during his triumphal ticker-tape parade, and by John F. Kennedy for his inauguration. Since 1988, it's been owned by Britain's Marks & Spencer.


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

South:

Former Biltmore Hotel

Block (335 Madison): Now called the Bank of America Plaza after a severe 1981 "modernization," the Biltmore was one of New York's most famous hotels; its lobby clock (which still can be seen in the office building's atrium) made "meet me under the clock" a catch phrase. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald honeymooned here in April 1920 until management asked them to leave. Henry Ford's 1915 attempt to broker an end to World War I was headquartered here.

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Yale Club

Corner (50 Vanderbilt): When it opened in 1915, this was said to be the largest clubhouse in the world. It moved here for the proximity to trains to New Haven.


S <===           VANDERBILT AVENUE           ===> N

Grand Central Terminal

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.

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.

Fred Astaire sings here in The Band Wagon. Cary Grant buys a ticket at Window 15 in North by Northwest. Terry Gilliam filmed commuters here all breaking into a waltz in The Fisher King. Lex Luthor has his lair underneath the station in the Superman movie, as do the mutants in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

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.

Graybar Building

(420 Lexington): This was the largest (not tallest) in New York City when it was built in 1927. Notable for the stone rats above its canopy entrance, supposed to evoke New York's maritime heritage.

Pan Am Building

Current owner Met Life wants us to call it after them, but it'll always be the Pan Am--besides, there already is a Met Life Building, on Madison Square.

Noted for spanning Park Avenue--from the south, it can be seen from Union Square--and for the helicopter pad on the roof, no longer in use since a grisly accident in 1977 killed four passengers and a pedestrian on the ground. The rooftop was featured in the movies Coogan's Bluff and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

























The post office here is called Grand Central Station--unlike the train station, which is properly called Grand Central Terminal.


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

South:

Corner (425 Lexington): Commerce Place, a 1988 building by Murphy/Jahn, has an entrance that the AIA Guide says looks like ''the portal to the lair of the Emperor Ming.''




144: Mission of the Dominican Republic to the U.N.

150: Bully's of New York, cafe and catering service

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141: Fitzpatrick Grand Central is a well-regarded hotel, part of an Irish chain. The hotel restaurant is the railroad-themed Wheeltapper Pub.










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

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202: This was the address of Griffin & Howe, a famous rifle-maker whose customers included Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Dwight Eisenhower. The company moved here in 1932.


















230: Maharaja Indian Restaurant




246: Luna Blu




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219: Jimmy Sung's Restaurant used to be Peng's, which The New Yorker credited as the inventor of General Tso's chicken (though the claim is disputed).

Site of Costello's

225: Was a famed journalist's bar that moved here from 3rd Avenue in 1972. Declared the perfect "bar bar" by the guidebook The View From Nowhere. The likes of A.J. Liebling, Joseph Mitchell and Jimmy Breslin used to drink there; John McNulty has a collection of New Yorker stories about the bar called This Place on Third Avenue. Ernest Hemingway broke a shillelagh here in a fight with John O'Hara.

It used to have some famous murals by James Thurber, a big fan of the place--which were installed in the new location, but subsequently disappeared. There is another wall of cartoons drawn in 1976 by 20 or so of America's most famous cartoonists--Stan Lee, Mad's Sergio Ramirez and Al Jaffe, Mort Walker, etc.

Post-Costello's, it became the Overlook Lounge, and then the Turtle Bay Cafe.

227: Biscuits & Bath

279: Bakers Dozen


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South:

304: The Permanent Mission of Egypt to the U.N. is in a 1928 building made for the Beaux Arts Institute of Design.

310: The landmarked Beaux Arts Apartments, named for the neighboring Institute, were co-designed by Raymond Hood and completed in 1930.

3 UN Plaza: UNICEF House, headquarters of the United Nations The park next door is James P. Grant Plaza, named for UNICEF's chief from 1980-95.

Corner (777 1st Avenue): U.N. Church Center; built by the United Methodists in 1962, this 12-story building provides offices for U.N.-related programs of many denominations and non-governmental organizations.

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307: Considered part of the Beaux Arts Apartments across the street.

321: Permanent Mission of Kuwait to the U.N. is in a 1986 building by Swanke Hayden Connell.




1 U.N. Plaza

Corner (787 1st Ave): A strikingly folded glass and aluminum form by Roche-Dinkeloo (1975). "The public spaces within are some of the best in New York's modern architecture"--AIA Guide. The National Bank of Pakistan is on the 1st Avenue side. The Millennium Plaza U.N. Hotel starts on the 28th floor.


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

United Nations Headquarters

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. The land is now considered international territory, not part of the United States.

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 21-foot-tall bronze oblong with the hole in it is Single Form, by Barbara Hepworth, created in 1964 as a memorial to Dag Hammarskjold, the two-term U.N. secretary general. Hammarskjold died in a plane crash in 1961 while on a peace mission to the Congo. Nearby is Henry Moore's Reclining Figure: Hand.

Secretariat Building

What people think of as the "U.N. Building." Built in 1952, 544 feet high and only 72 feet thick, this was the first major example of the International Style built in New York.

Northwest of the Secretariat Building is the Japanese Peace Bell, cast out of coins collected by children in 60 countries. It is rung twice a year, on the first day of spring and on International Peace Day (September 21).

General Assembly Building

The lobby of this building contains a stained glass window by Marc Chagall, as well as a Foucault pendulum, donated by the Netherlands, demonstrating the rotation of the Earth. The General Assembly Hall, where Nikita Kruschev banged his shoe on the table in 1960, seats 1,800.

Conference Building

Hidden away behind more prominent buildings, this is where the real power at the U.N., the Security Council, meets, in a chamber donated by Norway.





Is your favorite 44th Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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