New York Songlines: 58th Street

with Sutton Square

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HUDSON RIVER









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Corner (847 11th Ave): Manhattan Mini Storage, built c. 1925

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Block (840 12th Ave): This Con Edison building dates back to 1904 and was designed by Stanford White. It originally belonged to the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, New York City's first subway system, and provided all the power for the IRT trains (the numbered lines).





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John Jay College

555 (block): CUNY's school of criminal justice, for police and associated professions. It's named for John Jay, president of the Continental Congress and co-author of the Federalist Papers. The extension here was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is scheduled to be completed in 2009. Replaces a high-tech BMW dealership.



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521: Built 1951

John Jay College

Corner (899 10th Ave): Another annex to CUNY's school of criminal justice. It's named for John Jay, president of the Continental Congress and co-author of the Federalist Papers. The building was completed in 1906 as the DeWitt Clinton High School, named for the New York governor (and NYC mayor, U.S. senator, etc.) who brought us the Erie Canal; C.B.J. Snyder did the Flemish Renaissance design.


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St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital

Corner: Formed by a 1979 merger of Roosevelt Hospital, which was founded in 1871 and located here, with St. Luke's, which dates back to 1846. (The gospel writer St. Luke, according to tradition, was a doctor.) The building here is a 1990 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill design, a 13-story cube described by the AIA Guide as "grandiosity without grace."


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308: The Westpark Hotel was known as the Trymore in 1916 and the Acropolis in 1930. At some point it was the Hotel Wilson.

Corner (987 8th Ave): Four Columbus Circle. Why the city allows developers to give their buildings addresses that make no sense is beyond me. This was the site of Reisenweber's Restaurant, noted as the site of Sophie Tucker's "Bohemian Night" in the 400 Room, and as the venue where the Original Dixieland Jass Band was discovered, leading to their recording the first jazz record in 1917.

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345 (corner): Coliseum Park Apartments

Time Warner Center

Corner (10 Columbus Circle): This 2003 megastructure, a home for the media giant, was designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The first major skyscraper built after September 11, it features twin towers-- with 55 stories, half of the World Trade Center's reach. The massive complex includes a hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, and a performance space for Jazz at Lincoln Center. Also some of the most expensive restaurants in New York City, including Masa ($300-a-plate sushi), per se and V Steakhouse.

Built on the site of the New York Coliseum, Robert Moses' 1954 convention center (Leon and Lionel Levy, 1954), widely viewed as an eyesore--and as a white elephant after the Javits Center opened in 1986. Demolished 2000.

Earlier on the site was the Majestic Theatre, an opulent house built in 1903 that opened with a live musical production of The Wizard of OZ; renamed the Park in 1911, it saw the debut of Pygmalion and was the uptown home to Minsky's burlesque show. William Randolph Hearst turned it into a cinema, the Cosmopolitan, in 1923; Florenz Ziegfeld brought live theater back in 1925. After a few more name changes and switches between film, theater, vaudeville and ballet, it was the International when NBC used it as a TV studio from 1949 to 1954--starting with Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows.


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The eastern boundary of Hell's Kitchen

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Columbus Tower

3 Columbus Circle marked up for surgery by jskrybe, on Flickr

Block: Also known as the Newsweek Building, for its most prominent tenant (since 1994), the first three stories of this 25-story building went up in 1921 as the Collonade Building, noted for its Ionic columns (William Welles Bosworth, architect). The Broadway side was leased to the Hudson Motor Car Company for an Essex showroom, a space that from 1974 to 2003 was home to Coliseum Books, one of New York's most storied bookstores. The northern corner is the Cosmic Coffee House. In 1926, Shreve & Lamb added 22 stories to the building, which became General Motors' East Coast headquarters; the building was known as the General Motors Building until 1968, when the company moved to 5th Avenue. The current owner decided to reclad the building in glass in 2008, an aesthetically dubious move. It's also being renamed, inanely, 3 Columbus Circle, despite not being on Columbus Circle.










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2 Columbus Circle

2 Columbus Circle by Vidiot, on Flickr

Block (990 Broadway): In 1964, a 12-story concave tower designed by Edward Durell Stone was built here to house the Gallery of Modern Art, the collection of A & P heir Huntington Hartford. Known as the Lollipop Building for its distinctive ground-floor columns, it was noted for its almost windowless white marble facade, which attracted both ridicule and affection. After being owned by Fairleigh Dickinson University and Gulf + Western, the building became home to the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau from 1980 until 1998. 2 Columbus Circle by DrewVigal, on Flickr The city transferred the property to the Museum of Arts & Design, which embarked on a highly controversial redesign of the building. Despite vocal calls to preserve the building as a historically important example of Modernism, the Landmark Commission stubbornly refused to even hold hearings on the matter. The new look is set to be unveiled in 2008.


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1790 Broadway by Infinite Jeff, on Flickr

Corner (1790 Broadway): This was the address of the NAACP, where on October 25, 1976, the pardon of the last surviving Scottsboro Boy, Clarence Norris, was announced.

226: An 18-year-old Judy Holliday lived in this building in 1940-41, paying $57 a month rent.

202: The site of the original John Golden Theatre, built in 1926, named for the playwright/producer who not only built it but designed it--having formerly been an architecture student. Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude debuted here. In 1936 it became a cinema, showing mainly foreign films (notably the U.S. premiere of Grand Illusion) under the names Filmarte, Fine Arts and later the Elysee Theatre. After briefly serving as the fundamentalist Rock Church, it became a radio and then a TV studio, where the Dick Cavett Show used to be taped. On June 7, 1971, 72-year-old health-food publisher Jerome Irving Rodale died onstage during a show--which was never aired. After serving as home to The $20,000 Pyramid and other game shows, it was demolished in 1985.

Now the address of the St. Thomas Choir School, a full-time school for boy singers at St. Thomas Church; founded 1919.

200 (corner): Building dated 1913. George S. Kaufman lived here from 1921-29, the period when he wrote The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers for the Marx Brothers. Also actor Michael Moriarty and former New York Doll David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter).

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235: The original home of FDNY Engine Co. 23 when it was organized in 1865.

231: Harold Ross lived here with his wife Jane Grant in 1920-22, before the couple founded The New Yorker.


215: The mansard-roofed Beaux Arts brick-and-limestone building was built as a stable in 1902-03, designed by York & Sawyer.

213: FDNY Engine Company No. 23 is in a grand firehouse designed by Alexander H. Stevens and completed 1906--known as the Lion's Den. The unit lost six firefighters on September 11, as many as had died in the line of duty in the previous 136 years.

200 Central Park South

Corner (200 Central Park S): The curved base of this 35-story modernist residential tower, built 1963, allows more apartments to have park views. Residents have included Raquel Welch and Dino DeLaurentiis.

Previously on this site was Jolson's 59th Street Theatre, built in 1921 by the Shuberts and designed by Herbert J. Krapp. The first show there, Bombo, starred blackface megastar Al Jolson. The theater also seems to have had the first Broadway productions of The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya. Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre had its U.S. debut here in 1923. In 1937, Orson Welles led the cast of The Cradle Will Rock--shut out of the Maxine Elliott Theatre for political reasons--to the theater, then called the Venice, where the actors performed the play from the audience to avoid violating Actor's Equity rules. Renamed the New Century Theatre in 1944, it saw the premiere of Kiss Me Kate before it was shuttered in 1954 and torn down in 1962.


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Alwyn Court

180 (corner): Built in 1909 as the ultimate in urban luxury, this 12-story French Renaissance apartment building has a lavishly fanciful facade; what appear to be dragons are actually crowned salamanders, the symbol of Francois I, whose style inspired architects Harde & Short. Charles Steinway, president of the piano company, was one of the original tenants. Actresses Natasha Richardson and Rita Gam have also lived here. On the ground floor since 1984 is the Petrossian Restaurant, famed for its caviar.

158: A 21-year-old Marlon Brando lived here in 1944 when he first came to public notice in the play Truckline Cafe.


Windsor Park

100 (corner): Architect-for-billionaires Charles Gwathmey designed the 2004 conversion of the former Helmsley Windsor Hotel into luxury housing-- including adding a $16 million penthouse to the roof. The building was put up as a co-op by Rosario Candela in the 1920s. Comedian Fred Allen lived here in the 1930s and '40s; Angela Lansbury has lived here more recently.

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New York Athletic Club

Corner (180 Central Park S): A 1929 Renaissance Revival clubhouse designed by York & Sawyer for a sports club founded in 1868, whose members have subsequently won at least 123 Olympic gold medals. The club introduced the sport of fencing, bicycle racing and squash courts to the United States. Heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey was a member, as is George Steinbrenner.

Replaced the Spanish Flats, an innovative, ahead-of-its-time apartment complex built in 1883 by Josť F. de Navarro.

Frankt Stella Clothes is in the building.

The Trump Parc

101 (corner): When it was the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, it was home to writer Anais Nin in 1934-35; she called it the Hotel Chaotica. Artist Frida Kahlo stayed here in 1931, and felt she was badly treated. Mobster Lucky Luciano lived here in the 1920s. Bought by Donald Trump in 1988 and redesigned down to the frame, it became home to such celebrities as O.J. Simpson, LaToya Jackson, Larry Hagman ("J.R. Ewing") and Morton Downey Jr. Recognizable by the gilded teeth on the tower on top.


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This is the intersection where Ratso Rizzo says "I'm walking here!"

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68 (corner): Actress Gloria Swanson lived in this building, then the Park Chambers Hotel, from 1925 until the early 1930s. It now houses the Kobe Club, restaurant featuring super-expensive Japanese beef and 2,000 samurai swords dangling from the ceiling in a dining room that looks like "Akira Kurosawa hired the Marquis de Sade as an interior decorator" (New York Times). The space used to be Mix, also by restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow.




Wyndham Hotel

42: This shabby-chic hotel, which opened in 1929, has been home to Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and to Carol Burnett.




8: Comedian Fanny Brice lived here from 1914-18. Now the site of the Soho Building.













Bergdorf Goodman

Corner (754 5th Ave): Starting out as a tailor shop where in 1899 Edwin Goodman went to work for Herman Bergdorf, the fashionable department store moved here in 1928. The building was originally designed as a series of shops by Buchman & Kahn; Bergdorf Goodman, one of the original tenants, eventually bought and expanded into the whole set except for the Van Cleef & Arpels store at the southern end of the block. The penthouse atop the store, once the Goodman family's private residence, was converted to a spa in 1997, not long after the store was bought out by Neiman Marcus.

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57 (corner): The Coronet is an 11-story red-brick apartment building from 1901, condoized in 1976. Time has not been particularly kind to it. Used to house the Manhattan Ocean Club, noted seafood restaurant.

Plaza Hotel

This Henry Hardenbergh-designed castle opened in 1907, replacing an earlier outgrown version.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived the high life here in 1922. Frank Lloyd Wright rented suite 223 here from 1953 until his death in 1959; it was here that he designed the Guggenheim Museum. The Beatles stayed here on their first visit to America in February 1964. Truman Capote's Black and White Ball was held here on November 28, 1966. From 1988 until 1995 it was owned by Donald Trump.

The hotel is the setting of the children's classic Eloise, and is a setting for many films, including North by Northwest, Barefoot in the Park, Funny Girl, Plaza Suite, The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, Network, Love at First Bite, Arthur, The Cotton Club, Crocodile Dundee, Big Business, King of New York, Home Alone 2 and Almost Famous. It was repeatedly featured on Sex and the City and The Sopranos.

Grand Army Plaza

This plaza, technically a part of Central Park but really a distinct entity, is bifurcated by Central Park South, a layout inspired by Paris' Place de la Concorde. It honors the Grand Army of the Republic, the powerful post-Civil War veteran's organization, comparable to the American Legion.

Pulitzer Fountain

The southern half of Grand Army Plaza is centered on this fountain, into which F. Scott Fitzgerald once jumped "just out of sheer joy," It was funded by the will of publisher Joseph Pulitzer --a beyond-the-grave challenge to his rival William Randolph Hearst, who had underwritten Columbus Circle's Maine Memorial. The statue in the fountain is Karl Bitter's Abundance, featuring the Roman goddess Pomona. Bitter, who had promoted the Place de la Concorde as a pattern for the Plaza, finished the clay model for the sculpture the same day he was fatally struck by a car outside the Metropolitan Opera House.

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The nation's first civil rights march, organized by the NAACP on July 28, 1917, took 10,000 African-Americans, led by 300 children dressed in white, down 5th Avenue to 23rd Street to protest recent anti-black riots.

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Old Squibb Building

Corner (745 5th Ave): This 1930 office tower designed by Eli Jacques Kahn, replaced part of Marble Row, a string of white marble buildings built by Mary Mason Jones, Edith Wharton's great-aunt, who appears in The Age of Innocence as Mrs. Mingott. When Marble Row was built, in 1867-69, the neighborhood was largely unpopulated, and the white marble material flew in the face of the ubiquitous fashion for brownstone. Though the houses have all been torn down--this end of the block went in 1929--they still echo in the white and/or marble used in their replacements and in surrounding buildings.

The street-level facade here, unfortunately, was redone in colored marble in 1988--originally to honor Kahn's supposed original intentions, thwarted by Depression Era cutbacks, then, when it turned out Kahn very much wanted a white building here, just because the owners didn't like it that way.

The lobby features a ceiling mural by Arthur Covey featuring stylized airplanes flying over Manhattan.

The Squibb Building was for many years home to the magical toy store F.A.O. Schwartz, which later moved next door, and now houses Bergdorf Goodman's Men's Store.

6: This address in the Squibb Building was home to Reuben's Restaurant & Delicatessen from 1938 until the 1960s, when it moved to Madison and 38th. Reuben's may or may not have invented the Reuben sandwich.

38: Artist Georgia O'Keefe and photographer Alfred Steiglitz moved into this building after their 1924 wedding.

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General Motors Building

Block (761 5th Ave): This was the site of the Savoy Plaza Hotel, an elegant skyscraper hotel from 1892 that was home to Trader Vic's. The 50-story white-marble office tower that Edward Durell Stone designed for the car maker, completed in 1968, contrasts starkly with the decidedly non-Modern look of most of its neighbors. The once-sunken plaza here is the glass-cubed entrance to the 24-hour Apple Store, occupying a space that was once the car-themed Autopub. CBS's Early Show is also based here.





























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Corner (470 Park): This 14-story red-brick apartment house was built in 1916. It was designed by Schwartz & Gross-- the farthest south of the firm's 13 buildings on Park Avenue.

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Corner (625 Madison): Offices (not the store) of the Bulgari jewelry company are located here. Was Revlon's headquarters for 15 years, until 2003--before that, it was Nabisco's for almost three decades. The ground floor houses crystal shops like Baccarat, Stuart Weitzman and Swarovski, and women's clothing stores like Eres, Wolford and Fratelli Rossetti. Also Pierre Deux French Country.

39: The same building's side street address is Lavo, an Italian restaurant with a nightclub underneath for the sort of people who enjoy spending $2,000 at a nightclub. The space used to be Au Bar, the kind of place the title character in the film American Psycho liked to hang out in.

Corner (480 Park): This 21-story apartment building, made of buff brick, limestone and terra cotta, features a gleaming marble lobby. It was put up in 1929 by developer Sam Minskoff to a blueprint by Emery Roth, who designed the penthouse apartment for himself; restauranteur Toots Shor also lived here. It replaced the Hotel Clarendon. On the ground floor are Jill Sander, boutique; James Robinson, silver.


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Corner (475 Park): This 15-story white-brick apartment building makes a plain neighbor to the Ritz Tower. It was built in 1908 (when it was numbered 471) to a Charles W. Buckham design. Alcoa planned to build a 30-story headquarters here in the 1950s; when that fell through, the apartment building was stripped of its facades and reclad in white brick in 1958; the vandals were Charles N. and Selig Whinston. Now houses Chinese Porelan antiques; Jay Kos and Atelier Aimee, women's clothing.

122: New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, founded 1869.

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Corner (485 Park): A 14-story limestone-and-beige-brick apartment building from 1922. On the ground floor: Pierre Marolini chocolates, Seaman Scheppe jewelry.











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154: This was the site of Proctor's Pleasure Palace & Palm Gardens, an 1895 Romanesque-Renaissance auditorium/beer garden designed by J.B. McElfatrick & Sons for F.F. Proctor. Three decades later, in 1928, Proctor tore it down to build his "greatest triumph," Proctor's 58th Street, a Spanish Renaissance cinema designed by Thomas Lamb with 3,100 seats. Bought by RKO the next year, it was known as the RKO Proctor's 58th Street and finally RKO 58th Street. It was seplaced in 1968 with the current 39-floor building.

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Bloomberg Tower

Block (731 Lexington): A 55-story banded office tower that houses the billionaire mayor's media company, with condominiums known as One Beacon Court stretching above--home to GE CEO Jack Welch, his underling Brian Williams, and Beyonce. Built in 2007 to a Cesar Pelli design.

Previously on the site was Alexander's, the flagship of a discount department store chain founded in 1928 that went bankrupt in 1992; the five-story marble building here was built in 1968 and demolished in 1998. It survives as a real estate company controlled by Vornado (which itself began as the Two Guys discount chain).


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Corner (969 3rd Ave): Was The Gotham, cinema that began in 1963 as the Trans-Lux East. Last Tango in Paris premiered here. Closed in 2001.







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D & D Building

Corner (979 3rd Ave): The Decoration and Design Building is an 18-story 1965 building with a sawtoothed facade that houses interior design showrooms; David & Earl Levy, architects.

235: Playwright Tennessee Williams lived in this three-story white-brick building from 1948 until the early '50s.


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300 (corner): Excelsior Apartments are 47 stories from 1967, called a "white-brick monstrosity" by City Review.



Corner (1063 1st Ave): Rosa Mexicano on First Avenue, part of a local chain

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Corner (300 E 59th): Landmark Apartments, 36 stories from 1971.








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Corner (21 Sutton Place):

4: The first of a row of townhouses built in the 1880s and refurbished in the 1920s by the real estate company Webb & Knapp, who renamed the block Sutton Square

6-8: Two brothers-in-law combined three former townhouses into these two addresses c. 1922. The wall separating the two homes is staggered--the property line is different on different floors. Chinese TV star Yue-Sai Kan has lived here.

12: The first townhouse on the block to be redesigned, by Delano & Aldrich in a neo-Georgian style. In 1973 the interior was connected to No. 8, and the ground floor of that house was given a neo-Georgian redesign.

14: Painter Robert Henri lived here in 1901.

16 (corner): The original brownstone here was torn down in 1939 for construction of the FDR Drive, and the current building dates from 1940. Aristotle Onassis lived here around 1950. The townhouse was later owned by John C. Whitehead, former chair of Goldman Sachs.

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Corner (25 Sutton Place): 1928, 14 stories











7 (corner): This late-19th Century townhouse was bought in 1952 by Jack L. Warner of Warner Brothers, and was later owned by Dallas Cowboys founder Clint Murchison. William F. Reilly, chair of Primedia, bought it in 1990 and combined it with the next townhouse on Riverview Terrace.


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What am I missing on 58th Street? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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