Time traveling in Chelsea

If you could transport yourself to the corner of Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street in 1933, this is what you’d see. That’s the Grand Opera House, opened in 1868. Eventually the opera house began hosting vaudeville acts and showing movies until its demise in a fire in 1960.

When this photo was taken, Wallace Beery was starring in “Chinatown Nights,” and a night at the Cornish Arms Hotel costs a buck fifty!

Here’s the same corner today, with an unspectacular (okay, ugly) 1960s building taking the place of the gorgeous opera house.

The Cornish Arms Hotel is now the Broadmoor, an apartment building, and the Penn Station South Houses stretch up the block. These high-rises were built in the early 1960s by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union as affordable housing for union members.

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12 Responses to “Time traveling in Chelsea”

  1. Lu Says:

    I love this blog! I in the neighborhood and pass BBQ daily. I would so prefer to pass the opera house.

  2. Joe R Says:

    I enjoy this blog very much. That opera house, BTW, was a vanity project by some 19th century Wall Street robber baron, James Fisk, I think.
    Also, the Cornish Arms next door was where 30’s gangster Mad Dog Coll lived when he went across the street and got shot up almost in two by Owney Madden’s gang.
    The good old days!

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Mad Dog Coll, great name. Thanks for the feedback!

  4. Nancy Says:

    I stumbled onto this when I googled “Cornish Arms Hotel”. I’ve been trying to get someone to take a current picture of this building with no luck. Have been researching the CAH for years as a part of my Cornish research. Very interesting place and i love the pictures.
    Thanks so much.

  5. Fiona Vella Says:

    I am doing a biography of Joseph Calleia – a Maltese actor in Hollywood. During my research I have found this info:

    February 20, 1936, the Maltese held a Dommerr at the Cornish Arms Hotel, New York, to pay tribute to Joseph Calleia. According to Joseph E. Doublet, editor of The Maltese journal, the Maltese community wanted to pay tribute to a beloved son of Malta who had successfully placed for the first time in history the little island’s name map of the Movie World.

    Is it possible to find more about this?

  6. George Pritchard Says:

    Really enjoyed reading your blog and was happy to see the uptodate photo of the Cornish Arms Hotel. You may like to take a look at my web site which gives some history of the hotel which was used by Cornish people when entering or leaving the port of New York.

  7. George Pritchard Says:

    My website URL is : http://members.tripod.com/cornish_letters/index.htm

  8. Alfredo M. Daniel Says:

    This is a great! I grew up in Chelsea. I went to St Columba from 1972 to 1981. I recall in the earlier years when the Cornish Arms was occupied by the elderly. Apparently it was converted to a retirement home.

    Your image from 1933 is not loading unfortunately. Sure wish I could see it.

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks! The photo loads fine on my end–want to check again?

  10. A Chelsea hotel for just $2.25 a night « Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] an older view of the Cornish Arms, from 1933, with the gorgeous but long-gone Grand Opera House on the [...]

  11. burguito Says:

    my grandparents have an apartment in the broadmoor. my brother lives there now…very nice to know some history of the place…
    if anyone wants an updated picture to the day, respond to me here and i could email you any photo you may want of the broadmoor, then cornish arms hotel in it’s current state..may take a week or two for me to get into the city cause i live in long island..

    cool blog!

  12. Patrick Carroll Says:

    On my website – http://www.patrickcarroll.co.uk – there is a post, “The Cornish Hotels of New York City”, that gives an account of the various establishments dating back to 1846 that catered to Cornish travellers both coming to and returning from the Americas, the last of which was the Cornish Arms Hotel at 315 West 23rd Street.

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