Stripping the grand Ansonia Hotel of its cornices

This website is a big fan of New York City building ornamentation: statues, grotesques, lanterns, and other eye-catching decorative elements. 

So it was quite a shock to come across this 1942 photo (published in Over Here: New York City During World War II, by Lorraine B. Diehl) showing workmen removing a cornice from the roof of the Upper West Side’s Ansonia Hotel.

But there was a reason: a World War II scrap metal drive. By the 1940s, the once-grand Beaux Arts gem on Broadway and 72nd Street had fallen into disrepair.

Apparently management did not think the building, which would eventually become luxe condos on the again-fashionable Upper West Side, would miss its cornices.

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5 Responses to “Stripping the grand Ansonia Hotel of its cornices”

  1. Dan Davis Says:

    Fantastic photo, what a find! Terrific city view, building detail, and especially the worker safety devices; “We’ll just send up a couple of guys with some rope!”

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I know, seems awfully dangerous. I can’t tell if they’re wearing harnesses or not!

  3. The most infamous sex club of the 1970s « Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] in 1977, Plato’s Retreat held court in the basement of the then-crumbling Beaux Arts Ansonia Hotel on Broadway and West 74th [...]

  4. The musical history of 72nd Street’s Verdi Square « Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] early 1900s, it was a meeting place for musicians such as tenor Enrico Caruso (he lived nearby at the Ansonia) and conductor Arturo Toscanini, according to the New York City Department of Parks and [...]

  5. RD Wolff Says:

    Sickening! those machine pressed hand soldered copper cornices are irreplaceable, just the sheer cost to make the metal dies required to press all of the pieces would be outrageous.
    This photo reminded me of a postcard I have from 1937 showing workers repointing the bricks on the long gone Central Commercial HS on E42nd st next to the NY Daily News building.
    Looks like this guy has no safety harness, rope, and he has one foot on the handrail of the scaffold while he works:

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