Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vanished and Vanishing New York: 1960s Photos

New York City has been demolishing its past and rebuilding since it was established by the Dutch in 1624. Recent decades have seen successful efforts to preserve buildings that otherwise might have been destroyed.

This post is a photo essay showing some photos I took in April of 1962 when I was stationed at Fort Slocum (also gone), the summer of 1963 when I was at Fort Meade, Maryland, and in June of 1965 when I was gathering information for my Masters thesis. Perhaps some readers who are New York fans might appreciate them.


Art Students League, West 57th Street (1962)
The building still exists, but overshadowed and overhung by a large modern tower, as this Observer article reports.

Columbus Circle, Gallery of Modern Art under construction (1962)
Millionaire Huntington Hartford favored a more traditional variety of modern art, so he had this building created to display it. The exterior was sheathed in marble, but only bits were in place when I photographed it. Edward Durell Stone was the architect. I visited it once, and all I remember was that it seemed cramped. The museum closed in 1969 and this explains what happened since. Yes, that's the Empire State Building at the left, sighted down Broadway.

Savoy Plaza Hotel (1963)
It's the building to the right. This isn't a good photo and many fine ones can be found on the internet. I include it because it's mine. The hotel was replaced by the large, nondescript, General Motors Building. The tall building is the Sherry-Netherland hotel-plus-apartments that still stands. The Savoy Plaza Wikipedia entry is here.

Singer Building (1963)
This was for a short while (1908-09) the tallest building in the city. It was demolished by taking it apart bit-by-bit in 1968. Its tall shaft was capped by the slightly bulbous top pictured here.  It never looked right to me. More information is here.

Tribune Building (1962)
During the late 1800s some newspaper offices clustered near City Hall, and the Tribune was one of them. The building by Richard Morris Hunt was completed in 1875 and demolished in 1966. More information is here.

Subway entrance/exit, Park Avenue South & East 28th Street (1963)
This is what subway entrances often looked like early in the 20th century. They were disappearing when I made a point of taking this picture. The drab-looking neighborhood has been gentrified, if Google street views are any guide.

42nd Street, west of Times Square (1965)
This stretch of 42nd Street has been spruced up a little in recent times. Fifty years ago it was more gritty, as can be seen here. Those movie theaters were second-run houses. When a movie had its initial run, it would be seen around the corner in Times Square on Broadway or Seventh Avenue. When attendance fell off, the film would move to a house on 42nd where prices were lower and affordable for people with limited entertainment budgets. Back in those pre-internet days, one way of telling the commercial success of a movie was to take note of how long it lasted in Times Square before it went to 42nd.

Railroad yard revealed below new construction, Park Avenue (1965)
The Wikipedia entry on Park Avenue mentions that the street is partly built over railroad tracks. In my New York days, the New York Central and New Haven lines came down Park and then around 50th Street fanned out to Grand Central Terminal's gate system. The photo was taken while construction was getting underway at 299 Park Avenue, the Westvaco Building, as it was first called. The link mentions that the tracks under the building site were those of the New Haven. Since not many buildings are built along this stretch of Park, my camera captured a rare sight.

Ziegfeld Theatre (1965)
The Ziegfeld Theatre designed by Joseph Urban opened in 1927 and was demolished in 1966 as this Wikipedia entry reports. When my photo was taken it was clearly on its way out. So, like the subway entrance above, I made sure to photograph it.


Stephen Mundane said...

Thanks Donald. I'm really enjoying seeing your photos of America in the 1960s.

Mark said...

AC - Thanks for your vanishing building photo essay; you caught something in your subway entrance picture - a red, 1963 Oldsmobile 88. My first car was a white model - I bought it in '73 and sold it in '74, because it drank more gas than a poor college student could afford. If I had it back now, I'd restore it. Rode like an airliner.