Archive for the ‘Chelsea’ Category

Medicine ads targeting the city’s aches and pains

April 7, 2014

When these medicine trade cards were circulating around New York, surgery was in its infancy and antibiotics had yet to be invented. The average New Yorker wouldn’t have enjoyed easy access to a doctor.

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So when aches and pains and ailments struck, potions and remedies like these were there, ready to be picked up at the corner pharmacy.

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[Above: the front and back of an ad for "Scott's Emulsion of Cod Liver Oil With the Hyophosphites of Lime and Soda," for a cough]

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Did they work? Without an ingredient list, it’s tough to know. But the cards are interesting to look at—a reminder that earlier generations dealt with the stomach issues, headaches, and colds that drive us to Duane Reade today.

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[Above, the back and front of a trade card for a medicine sold by Charles Schneider of East 17th Street, then the upper reaches of Kleindeutschland, the city's German neighborhood. What is it for?]

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[Above: Alexander's Cholera Infantum Cure, made by the Alexander Medicine Co. in 14th Street and Sixth Avenue and sold by a druggist named Rosenzweig in Brooklyn, could help your kids get rosy cheeks, apparently.]

They’re part of the wonderful William H. Helfand Collection of Pharmaceutical Trade Cards in the New York Academy of Medicine Library—which has a recently renovated and reopened Rare Book Room, available to researchers by appointment at their headquarters on Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street.

Is this the ugliest brownstone in Chelsea?

April 7, 2014

The iconic New York brownstone, with its high stoop and decorative cornice, made its appearance in the early 19th century and quickly became a stylish, single-family home favorite.

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Over the decades, some have been updated, their facades altered and made over to suit their owners’ tastes.

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There’s this Modernist example in Turtle Bay, the concrete grill townhouse in the East 60s, and the futuristic bubble-window brownstone in the East 70s.

But what explains the refrigerator unit-like redesign of this home, part of a beautiful stretch of three-story row houses dating back to the turn of the last century?

Perhaps its super comfy inside. And a garage—that can be convenient.

Here’s the price (and photos) of the upper duplex, courtesy of a Corcoran listing.

1970s city store signs that burst with color

March 24, 2014

Treat yourself to a Monday morning explosion of old-school color—courtesy of these New York store signs that give off a very 1970s vibe.

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Ace Pump got its start in 1936, and still deals in engineering supplies on superluxe 21st Street in Chelsea.

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I’ve always loved the 20th Century Garage sign, as well as its name, which must have sounded very modern at one time. It’s near Tudor City on East 48th Street. It looks like it was made before the 1970s, no?

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Jerome Florist, on 96th Street and Madison Avenue, has been selling arrangements to Upper East Siders (and the area’s abundance of hospitals) since 1929.

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Once known as Capital Audio & Electronics, this Duane Street shop took the electronics out of its name, perhaps to sound less 1970s-ish.

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Pharmacy signs like this one in Queens—no-frills, no brand names, with a neighborhood vibe—have mostly disappeared from city streets.

Pretty in pink houses all over New York City

February 6, 2014

With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, drugstores, elementary-school hallways, and chocolate shops are bursting with pink.

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But on the exteriors of some New York brownstones and walkups, pink rules year round.

Fuschia-pink, as in the case of this home in Chelsea. Kind of looks like its made out of bubblegum, no?

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This modest walkup on East 12th Street features a more pastel shade.

Pink is an interesting choice for a house color, especially in a city known for homes dressed in reds, browns, whites, and blues.

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Pink is warm, inviting, and soothing, like the hue of this Chelsea brownstone, above. It can be dramatic and playful too, and of course, pink symbolizes love.

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This little 19th century structure, in Long Island City, sports a faded patchy pink. Check out more examples of New York’s cherry blossom–colored domiciles.

Ghostly outlines of vanished city buildings

January 30, 2014

Many of the posts on Ephemeral New York explore concrete things that used to exist in New York City.

But sometimes, a building or house disappears without a backstory or even an address. It simply leaves behind a faded outline of what once was, and we’re left to wonder.

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What kind of little house was this, with two chimneys and a pointed roof, once on Bond Street off Broadway?

In the mid-19th century, Bond Street was super fancy and exclusive. It must have been a lovely home.

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This one above, which once flanked a cast-iron beauty, looks like an old walkup, on 23rd Street near Sixth Avenue, once the premier shopping district of Gilded Age New York.

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Is this a doll house that was once sandwiched between two handsome midrise buildings on Crosby Street? Maybe a carriage house.

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It looks like two or three different ghost buildings outlined against a tenement on West Eighth Street near MacDougal Street. At first I thought those were chimneys . . . but they’re just bricked-in windows.

More faded outlines can be found here.

Riding the gritty High Line of the 1930s

January 27, 2014

HighlinefreighttrainCould anyone in 1934—the year the High Line opened—have predicted that the gritty elevated rail line running along Manhattan’s West Side in and out of factories and warehouses would be turned into a grassy, pedestrian-packed park 75 years later?

Probably not. These Parks Department photos reveal the High Line of a more industrial New York, a city with a bustling manufacturing base all along the far West Side.

A freight train heads downtown in the first one—dropping off raw materials or picking up finished products.

The second depicts the High Line south of Horatio Street, a section that was demolished in the 1960s.

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The vantage point: the former Bell Laboratories, now known as Westbeth, residential and commercial space set aside by the city for artists.

What was the last shipment to be transported by train via the High Line before it closed in 1980? A load of frozen turkeys.

A West Chelsea warehouse with a nuclear past

January 16, 2014

On the prime West Chelsea block just off the West Side Highway and north of Chelsea Piers sits a stretch of handsome warehouses.

West20thsignOnce run by a company called Baker and Williams, these warehouses played a key role in the creation of the atomic bomb.

This is where the heads of the Manhattan Project—the code name for the building of the first atom bomb in the 1940s—decided to store tons of uranium.

According to this federal document, approximately 219,000 pounds of uanium from Africa by way of Canada was stored here before “distribution to U.S. government reservations.”

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It wasn’t until the early 1990s when the government cleaned the warehouse of residual uranium. “Workers removed more than a dozen drums of radioactive waste, according to the Department of Energy in Washington,” wrote The New York Times in 2007.

Of course, it’s not the only site in the city that played a key role in Manhattan island’s namesake project.

Research was conducted at Columbia University, administrative headquarters established at 270 Broadway, and an engineering office (set up to acquire crucial bomb-making material) existed at Fifth Avenue and 29th Street.

A snowy, windy day on the Sixth Avenue El

December 30, 2013

Martin Lewis’ 1931 drypoint etching “Snow on the El” reveals the Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street el station on a wet, snowy, blustery winter’s day.

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The woman in the foreground looks warm in her coat. The poor guy at the newsstand under the stairs probably isn’t so toasty.

More of Martin Lewis’ evocative etchings of New York in the 1930s can be found here.

West 16th Street’s rooftops and water towers

November 12, 2013

Chelsea’s residential rowhouses collide with its more contemporary Art Deco and industrial architecture in Mark Baum’s “Seventh Avenue and 16th Street, New York.

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Painted in 1932, the view looks very much the same today—when the sun hits the right way, it’s a blaze of red brick, warm yellow, and burnt brown.

The green lanterns outside city police precincts

October 24, 2013

Policelights10thprecinctWhether the precinct house is old or new, all New York police stations should have two green lights flanking their entrance.

There’s a story explaining why, and it has to do with the first men who patrolled New Amsterdam in the 1650s.

Peter Stuyvesant established an eight-member “rattle watch” who were “paid a small sum to keep an eye on the growing, bustling town,” and look out for pirates, vagabonds, and robbers, according to one source.

PolicelightsninthprecinctThe rattle watchmen carried green lanterns over their shoulders on a pole, like a hobo stick, so residents could identify them in the dark, unlit streets.

“When the watchmen returned to the watch house after patrol, they hung their lantern on a hook by the front door to show people seeking the watchman that he was in the watch house,” states this NYPD recruiting website.

Policelightsqueens“Today, green lights are hung outside the entrances of police precincts as a symbol that the ‘watch’ is present and vigilant,” explains the NYPD site.

The top two photos show the relatively modern green lights of a Chelsea police house, on West 20th Street, and the Ninth Precinct on East Fifth Street in the East Village.

The loveliest old police lantern I’ve ever seen has to be the one outside the 108th Precinct in Hunters Point, Queens.

The facade of the station house is currently undergoing construction, so my photo (left) of the cast-iron, crica-1903 lantern doesn’t do it justice. Luckily Forgotten New York has a much better shot here. It’s a beauty!


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