New York Songlines: 56th Street

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HUDSON RIVER









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South:

Corner: A four-story Sanitation building from 1937 straddles the street here.



610: Terminal Five, a music venue that seats 3,000.

Corner: Mazda

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Corner: A four-story Sanitation building from 1937 straddles the street here.








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

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Corner (798 11th Ave): Potamkin Cadillac

(525 W 55th): Harbor View Terrace, New York City Housing Authority's best project, according to the AIA Guide. Built 1976.










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CBS Broadcast Center

Block (518-530 W 57th): This is the headquarters of CBS News, from which The CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes and other shows are broadcast. It's also CBS Sports' main broadcast facility, as well as the home of the local WCBS TV and radio affiliates. The longest-running soap opera, Guiding Light, is taped here; As the World Turns and the defunct Search for Tomorrow used to be made here.

The building, which dates to 1937, was formerly a dairy depot for Sheffield Farms. CBS bought it in 1952 and converted it to TV studios in 1963.


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Interboro Institute

Corner (850 10th Ave): A two-year business college founded in 1888.






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353: Filmmaker Marvin Van Peebles has lived here.

341: Muckraker Lincoln Steffens lived in a seven-room apartment at this defunct address in 1897.

333: Broadway actresses Irene Worth, Dee Hoty and Carole Shelley have all lived at this address.


S <===           8TH AVENUE           ===> N
The eastern boundary of Hell's Kitchen

South:



Da Vinci Hotel

244: Leonardo-themed European-style boutique hotel. Joe G. Pizza is on the ground floor.

242: Pacific Echo, Japanese

238: Baluchi's, local Indian chain; Fuji Sushi

236: Patsy's, flagship of a local family-style Italian chain, opened in 1944. This was Frank Sinatra's favorite restaurant.

234: Basso 56, Italian

Random House Tower

The Random House Building by Ben+Sam, on Flickr

230 (corner): The headquarters of the publishing giant, built in 2003. The triple slab tower atop the trapezoidal base, which is residential, resembles a trio of giant books. The residences here are known as the Park Imperial; Sean "Puffy" Combs was one of the first tenants.

Random House was founded in 1925 by Bennett Cerf, who intended to publish a random assortment of books--which turned out to include works by Faulkner, Truman Capote, Ayn Rand and Dr. Seuss, and the first complete edition of Joyce's Ulysses.

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235 (corner): Symphony House Apartments, 43-story building from 1986


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MONY Building

55th & Broadway by Andrew Baron, on Flickr

Corner (1740 Broadway): Built in 1950 as the 25-story headquarters of the Mutual Life Insurance Co. (Shreve, Lamb and Harmon were the architects), the building was known for the MONY logo at the top that inspired the Shondells song "Mony Mony." MONY moved out after a 2004 merger with AXA, and the logo was replaced with a "1740" in 2008.

Park Central Hotel

200 (corner): Built in 1927 as the Park Central Hotel, it was the Park Sheraton and the Omni Park Central before resuming its original name. Its famous guests have included Eleanor Roosevelt (1949-53, 1958), columnist Walter Winchell, filmmaker D.W. Griffith (1935), boxer Joe Louis, actor Jackie Gleason and actress Mae West. Two of New York City's most famous mob hits occurred here: Gambler Arnold Rothstein was fatally shot here November 4, 1928, and hitman-turned-capo Albert Anastasia was shot to death in the barber shop here October 25, 1957.

This side of the hotel is the Manhattan Club, an urban timeshare.

Previously at this location was the Van Corlear apartment house, designed by Henry Hardenbergh for builder Edward Clark and put up in 1878.

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Foreign Dignitaries by d.billy, on Flickr

211 (corner): Carnegie Mews Apartments, a 37-story high-rise designed by Emery Roth & Sons (1979), houses the only Manhattan branch of Hooters. From 1905-69, this was the site of the Broadway Tabernacle, a United Church of Christ congregation that now shares a home with Advent Lutheran on Broadway and 93rd.







1010 WINS

Corner (888 7th Ave): Studios of the radio station that began as WGBS, named for its original owner, Gimbel's department store. In 1932 it was bought by William Randolph Hearst, who changed its call letters in honor of his International News Service. After a couple of ownership changes, it became one of the first rock and roll radio stations, featuring DJs like Alan Freed and "Fifth Beatle" Murray the K Kaufman. Westinghouse bought the station in 1962, switching to the all-news format in 1965 that it has maintained ever since; it's now part of the CBS media empire.

Red Eye Grill, seafood, is on the ground floor.


S <===           7TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

162 (corner): Teleon Cafe is in the Carnegie Plaza building.

160: Joseph Patterson Music House

CitySpire

150-156: A 69-story mixed-use tower designed by Helmut Jahn and erected in 1987. The octagonal structure is topped with a dome, echoing City Center's (whose air rights CitySpire utilized); wind whistling through the dome during the building's first year contributed to neighborhood hostility. Includes the Carnegie Club hotel.







New York City Center

130: Built in 1923 as a meeting hall for the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (hence the Moorish architectural theme), it was repurposed in 1943 by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as a city-owned performing arts center. Here the New York City Opera and New York City Ballet both got their starts here; Leonard Bernstein and Leopold Stokowski conducted the New York City Symphony; Paul Robeson played Othello and Tallulah Bankhead starred in A Streetcar Named Desire. It's now home to the Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham and Paul Taylor dance companies, the American Ballet Theatre, the Manhattan Theatre Company and the Encores! series of staged readings of musicals, which sparked the revivals of Chicago! and Wonderful Town.

120: Air France

112: Le Premier apartments

106: Offices of America, the Jesuit weekly founded in 1909. The publication-- the U.S.'s only Catholic weekly--has been here since 1965; the building was previously the New York headquarters of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

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Carnegie Hall

161 (corner): Legendary concert hall built by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie in 1891. How do you get here? "Practice!"

Among the greats that have performed or spoken here are Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Antonin Dvorak, Ignace Paderewski, Vladimir Horowitz, Leonard Bernstein, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, The Beatles, Mark Twain, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King. The film Unfaithfully Yours was shot here.

In the building are the Carnegie Hall Studios, which has housed such artists as Charles Dana Gibson (of the "Gibson Girl"), John Philip Sousa, Isadora Duncan, Agnes de Mille, Marlon Brando, John Barrymore and Paddy Chayefsky.

Russian Tea Room

151: Opened around 1926 by Viennese choreographer Albertina Rasch and originally catering to former members of the Russian Imperial Ballet, this restaurant (which has closed and reopened a couple of times in recent years) became in the 1950s one of New York's most storied show-business hangouts, with guests like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, George Ballanchine, Sam Cohn and Rudolf Nureyev treating it as their clubhouse and office. In the 1980s it became one of Manhattan's power rooms, with the likes of Warren Buffet, Joan Rivers and Helen Gurley Brown helping to consume more than a ton of caviar a year. Madonna was fired from her job here as a coat check girl for inappropriate attire. The joint's pre-revolutionary decor can be seen in films like Tootsie, Manhattan, The Turning Point and Unfaithfully Yours.

129: Adaro, Italian

127: Topaz, Thai

Corner (1381 6th Ave): Carnegie House, 21-story grey-brick apartment building that went up in 1962--named for Carnegie Hall, a longish block away. Ballerina Alexandra Danilova lived here.


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South:

62: SWF Florist; Pro Hot Bagel

60: Zarmen New York, clothing; Men Kui Tei, Chinese

58: Sitar Indian Cuisine

56: ISE, Japanese; Cucina Gourmet, cafe

52: Printon 56

46: Utopia Cafe

40: Zana Rosa, Mexican

38: UB Restaurant, Mexican

36: Jonathan Flowers

34: D&S Marketplace

28: Sushiya, Japanese

26: Spanish Broadcasting System

24: Joe's Shanghai, Chinese

22: Torino deli

18: Luciano's Pizza

16: Il Linello, Italian

12: The Consulate General of Argentina is in a 1901 Neo-Georgian building designed by Stanford White for financier Harry B. Hollins.

10: This Beaux Arts townhouse, designed by Warren & Wetmore for Birdsall Otis Edey, later president of the Girl Scouts of America, now house s the Felissimo store.

Harry Winston

Corner (718 5th Ave): A prestigious jewelry firm established in 1932. Winston owned the Hope Diamond for 10 years, then donated it to the Smithsonian. He cut the 69-carat diamond that Richard Burton gave to Elizabeth Taylor in 1969. Marilyn Monroe exclaims in "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," "Talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me all about it." Edward Norton sings to Natasha Lyonne here in Everyone Says I Love You.

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Corner (1380 6th Ave): Hemisphere House, a 20-story white-brick apartment building put up in 1968. Author Jerzy Kosinski killed himself here on May 3, 1991. On the ground floor are Rue 57 Brasserie, Carnegie Luggage.

55: Bayleaf, Indian; Benihana of Tokyo, Japanese




39: Nexus showroom




33: The Centurion apartments, designed by I.M. Pei

29: Offices of Baby Phat, hip hop clothing line

25: Beacon, American; Radu, sports club

23: Kobe 5C, Sophie's Cuban Cuisine




19: American Cancer Society

15: Chambers Hotel; the house restaurant is Town.

11: Norma Kamali clothing is in a 1978 building by Rothzeid Kaiserman Thompson & Bee, with a slotted facade decorated by flags.

9: Crown Building houses Inada furniture, Beverly Feldman clothing

7: Venanzi, men's clothing

Corner (720 5th Ave): Abercrombie & Fitch, a four-story flagship opened in 2005. Before being repositioned as a "casual luxury" brand noted for its scantily clad young models in 1988, it was a sporting goods store, founded in 1892, that provisioned the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhardt and Ernest Shackleton. Ernest Hemingway is said to have bought the gun he killed himself with from Abercrombie & Fitch.


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South:

Corner (719 5th Ave): George Gustave Heye lived at this defunct address; his collections became the core of the Museum of the American Indian.

Corning Glass Building

Corner (717 5th Ave): Mirrored green glass tower is a 1959 design by Harrison & Abromowitz & Abbe, the first glass-walled building on 5th Avenue. The distinguished entrance was a 1994 remodeling by Gwathmey/Siegel. The Hugo Boss clothing store is here, replacing a Steuben glass store (a division of Corning).

4: Was Theodore's, French restaurant run by the former maitre d'hotel of the Ritz, described in a 1940 restaurant guide as "very good and very expensive."

36: During Prohibition, a succession of speakeasies were at this address: Mona Lisa, Petit Palais and the Europa.






























Sony Building

Corner (590 Madison Ave): A 37-story office tower by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, built in 1984 for AT&T (and originally called the AT&T Building). The building was notable for its "Chippendale" top and dramatic seven-story entranceway, both of whom challenged the functionalist dogma of Modernism and made this a key Post-Modern building. The lobby was designed for the sculpture Spirit of Communication by Evelyn Longman Batchelder, which was originally perched atop AT&T's building on downtown Broadway, but when the Ma Bell moved out the statue went with her to a corporate park in New Jersey.

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Trump Tower

Corner (721 5th Ave): A 68-story bronze-glass residential tower with a saw-toothed facade designed to create as many "corner" apartments as possible. Completed in 1983, it's been home to stars and celebs like Johnny Carson, Steven Spielberg, Dick Clark, Sophia Loren, Fay Wray, Paul Anka, Pia Zadora, Martina Navratilova and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley had their honeymoon here. Featured in The Devil's Advocate, I'll Take Manhattan and Spider-Man. Gucci's flagship superstore moved here in 2008.

Formerly on the site was Bonwit Teller, department store founded in 1897 and moved here in 1930, to an Art Deco store designed by Warren & Wetmore and almost immediately redesigned by Eli Jacques Kahn. Surrealist Salvador Dali smashed the window here on March 15, 1939, furious that the store had altered the display he had designed. The company folded not longer after Trump forced one last move.

33: This was the site of the James Donahue mansion, where he married Jessie Woolworth, one of the heirs to the five-and-dime fortune, and where their sons Woolworth and James Donahue, favorites of the society pages, were born. The elder Donahue later committed suicide after amassing $7 million in gambling debts here. The building became Club Napoleon, a prominent speakeasy of the Prohibition era, operated by the Stork Club's Sherman Billingsley and Tommy Guinan, Tex Guinan's brother. It was later operated by the racketeer Larry Fay, who called it Casa Blanca and added gambling to the bootleg liquor; he was shot and killed on the former mansion's marble staircase by a disgruntled employee on January 1, 1933.

After repeal, the liquor board refused to give it a licence under the Club Napoleon name; a state official, reading of the marble staircases and tapestries, remarked, "Sounds like a pretty elegant place--why not call it that?" It did legitimate business for years as Place Elegante.

The site's transition from high-society mansion to speakeasy inspired two films--Night After Night (which introduced Mae West, and her catchphrase "goodness had nothing to do with it," to the screen), and The House on 56th Street. Speakeasy scenes in the film The Helen Morgan Story were shot here.

IBM Building

Corner (590 Madison Ave): A 40-story wedge-shaped glass office building erected in 1983, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes for the computer giant, which moved out in the early 1990s. The dramatically cantilevered entrance reportedly added $10 million to the construction cost; a red Alexander Calder sculpture was added later. The building includes a bamboo-filled atrium, whose entrance features the fountain Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer. The former IBM Gallery served as the home for the Dahesh Museum of Art, a collection of academic art founded by a Persian mystic, from 2003 until 2008.


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South:

Corner (555 Madison Ave): Coates Building houses Hides in Shape--a luggage store.


78: Site of the Silver Ball speakeasy

Corner (430 Park): Originally the Hoffman Auto Showroom and later a showcase for Mercedes Benz, this space was designed in 1954 by Frank Lloyd Wright--the master architect's first New York work. The circular ramp foreshadowed Wright's New York masterpiece, the Guggenheim museum. In March 2013, the building's owners destroyed every vestige of the work of America's most famous architect, fearing that the interior might otherwise be landmarked. Rot in hell, Midwood Investment & Management and Oestreicher Properties.

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Corner (575 Madison Ave): A 25-story building by Emery Roth & Sons put up in 1950.

65: This was the address of the Coq Rouge, a restaurant where Salvador Dali held the Dream Betrayal Ball on February 18, 1935.

73: During Prohibition this was the speakeasy Pierre Gregori's.

Corner (444 Park): The Drake Hotel was built on this site in 1927 and demolished 70 years later. Silent film star Lillian Gish lived here from 1946-49. Other notable guests included Muhammed Ali and Glenn Gould; restauranteur Toots Shor lived here in his final years. New York's first discotheque, Shepheard's, opened here in the early 1960s. Fauchon chocolates was on the ground floor.


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South:

Corner (425 Park): A 32-story building from 1957, designed by Kahn & Jacobs. Singer Tony Bennett has lived in this building.

110: A speakeasy called the Back Stage Club was here.

120: Montebello, Italian

124: This was the site of the townhouse of Frederic Rene Coudert, one of the founders of the Coudert Brothers, a leading international law firm from 1853 until its 2007 collapse. He supposedly turned down an offer for a Supreme Court seat; his son, Frederic Rene Jr., was in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1957 it became The Gaslight Club, which cashed in on speakeasy nostalgia with an unmarked door and waitresses dressed like flappers. In the 1970s, the Penthouse Club was found here.

128: Zimbabwe Mission to the U.N.

Corner (664 Lexington): Universal Magazines, Wedding Ring Originals, Original Soupman, Bodytech health store, Good Choice shoes, Vertigo & Friends clothing, Bonetto Luggage, Porta Bella men's clothing, Seed women's clothing.

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Universal Pictures Building

Corner (445 Park): A 1947 building by Kahn & Jacobs is considered the first "wedding cake" building--reducing its cross-section with setbacks as it goes up, in precise accordance with the zoning law. Houses Daralamb, women's clothing; Citishoes; Nelson & Nelson Silver; and T. Anthony purses.

107: Here was Sennett's Long Cabin, a speakeasy.

Hotel Lombardy

111: Built in 1926 by William Randolph Hearst, this residential hotel has attracted numerous literary and show business guests, including composer Richard Rodgers (1929-30), Edna Ferber (1930-35), Sinclair Lewis (1939-40), Ernest Hemingway (1941) and Henry Fonda (1947). This was George Burns and Gracie Allen's last New York home before moving to Hollywood in 1935. Table 12 is the house restaurant.

125: Shanghai Commerce Bank

131: La Strada pizza

133: P.J. Carney's


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

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140 (corner): A 16-story beige-brick apartment building from 1956. On the ground floor are Filles et Garcons clothing, Cellini shoes and Scuba Network.

146: David Rockefeller has lived at this address. During Prohibition, it was Dizzy Club, a speakeasy.

150: The speakeasy Hi Hat


160: Arts & Antiques

166 (corner): Ray Bari Pizza, local mini-chain

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141 (corner): Lexington House apartments. Madeline's Cafe on the ground floor.

149: Was the speakeasy The Excelsior

155: Einstein Moomyy, Cassina--both furniture stores

163: Was La Chauimiere, described in a 1940 restaurant guide as "carefully rustic in atmosphere, as the name would imply. The food is French, perfect--and expensive."

165 (corner): The Jacob Blaustein Building houses the American Jewish Committee.


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South:

Corner (919 3rd Ave): Forty-seven stories of black glass designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill and completed in 1971. Housed the Eastside Cinema (opened in 1974, closed in 2003), which had midnight showings of Rocky Horror for a while.












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Corner (935 3rd Ave): Includes Maurice Villenchy furniture

227: Checkmate, New York's leading on-site swing club. At this address was Bill Hong's, long-running old-school Cantonese.

High School of Art & Design

Corner (1075 2nd Ave): Founded in 1936 as the School of Industrial Art, it moved to this present location in 1960. Alumni include singer Tony Bennett, animator Ralph Bakshi, playwright Harvey Fierstein, designer Calvin Klein, rap duo Mob Deep and prankster Joey Skaggs. The school has produced a number of major figures in the comics field, including Art Spiegelman, John Romita, Sr. and Neal Adams.


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Manhattan Art & Antiques Center

Corner (1050 2nd Ave): The Bristol Building is home to more than 100 antique galleries offering everything from Meiji Period art to Caucasian carpets. Opened 1975.

Sutton Hotel

330: Opened in 1929, the hotel's first manager was Nathanael West, who took inspiration for his novel Miss Lonelyhearts from the hard-luck guests here. Writers like like Erskine Caldwell, S.J. Perelman and Edmund Wilson also stayed here, often with West giving them a break on the rent. Dashiell Hammett, living here with Lillian Hellman in 1932, wrote The Thin Man here. More recent celebrity guests include Nancy Reagan, Bette Midler and Michael Caine.

Cathedral High School

350 (corner): A Catholic girls' school founded in 1905 and moved to this location (from Lexington Avenue) in 1973.

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345 (corner): A 22-story apartment building from 1960 is on the site of No. 353, where painter Piet Mondrian moved in 1939 after fleeing the Nazi invasion of Holland and then the London Blitz. He painted Broadway Boogie Woogie, now at MOMA, here. 353 was also home to crime novelist Patricia Highsmith from 1943-56; she subletted it for part of that time, including once, unhappily, to Truman Capote.


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Corner (20 Sutton Place S): A 20-floor apartment building, built in 1953 by the Doelger family, which owned a long-running brewery on this block--this building and its neighbor to the south were both built on its site.

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411: Songwriter Jerome Kern was born in this building on January 27, 1885.




Corner (14 Sutton Place S): A 14-story apartment building designed by Rosario Candela, completed 1929.


S <===           SUTTON PLACE SOUTH           ===> N

South:

Block (25 Sutton Place S): A 20-story building from 1959 has been home to Charlotte Ford, an etiquette writer and granddaughter of Henry Ford. Playwright Robert Sherwood, who won four Pulitzer Prizes, lived at an earlier building at this address from 1936 until his death in 1955.


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Block (1 Sutton Place S): A 13-story Italian Renaissance-style co-op designed by Rosario Candela and Cross & Cross and completed in 1927. City Review calls it "the finest and most prestigious apartment building on Sutton Place." Residents have included actor Sigourney Weaver, presidential sister Patricia Kennedy Lawford, designer Bill Blass and media billionaire Ann Cox Chambers.









What am I missing on 56th Street? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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