Thought you’d all be interested in a new play opening this Friday as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. It’s loaded with elements of the ephemeral NYC. Here’s a link to the website: http://www.beholdthebowery.com
Dear Ephemeral NY,
I read with interest your article regarding the West 29th Street “firehouse”. This is particulary so since the Commissioner mentioned in the article was my great-grandfather. I thought you might like the link below to an article regarding his Dept. of Correction tenure.
As it turned out, Commissioner Lantry’s grandaughter, my Mom, married the son of Brooklyn Borough President James J. Byrne. This intermarriage amongst Irish politicians has produced som slo-widded puhrsons.
Regards,and congratulations on a wonderfule site,
Robert Lantry Byrne
I’d like to interview you on the ephemera blog about your work on this site. If you’re interested, you can reach me through the email link on my blog. I’d enjoy the opportunity to profile you and feature the work you’re doing.
Thank you for this valuable site. It has helped me a great deal in my research. I have a question I thought you might be able to answer. In 1946/7 would a luxury building –say in the upper east side — have had a doorman? How about an elevator?
Yes, a luxury building in the 1940s would definitely have had a doorman 24 hours a day as well as elevators. They probably would have had an elevator operator around the clock who ferried residents to their floor and back.
I notice that you have a tag for old phone exchanges (or tags really, you used a few slightly different ones) but not a category. This blog doesn’t work like the blogspot blogs, it seems; what’s the difference between tags and categories?
I really don’t know what the difference is. I keep meaning to organize the phone exchanges into a more cohesive category or separate page, but time constrains have prevented me from doing so. I find the phone exchange history fascinating and so do a lot of readers. Which reminds me: thank you for helping to clear up some of the OR and WA confusion out there.
Your entry on Tiffany & Co. refers to a building on Prince Street – “The store did a stint on Broadway and Prince Street (see photo below) in the last years of the 19th century.” Like the other photos on your site, this one is not credited. Will you tell me the source? This is a building which interests me.
I haven’t been able to locate a source for the photo so far. But while researching it just now, I realized I had the information incorrect. This is not a photo of the Tiffany’s retail store that existed at 550 Broadway, near Prince Street. This is a photo of their silverworks factory at 51-53 Prince Street.
I just came across your site and, specifically, your picture of Kranich Soap. My father worked at the Kranich Soap Company until it closed (sometime in the early sixties, although I can’t remember exactly when) when the owner, Herb Kranich, died. It made two kinds of products that I can recall; soap for the the globe type dispensers used in department stores at the time and bases for soap manufactured by others. I remember riding with my father in a truck making a delivery to Helena Rubinstein which, if I am remembering correctly, was in Long Island.
I enjoy visiting your website. Thought you might be interested in knowing about my new website 98Bowery.com, a mix of art and reminiscences about downtown NY from 1969-1989. Lots of visual memories here; your readers might find especially interesting the portrait of Harry Mason, an owner of a Bowery Bar in the section entitled “First Years.” Keep up the good work.
Thanks again for this wonderful site. Please consider doing a piece on the history of the Dakota building (ie: John Lennon, etc). Was reading a nice thread on the building here (http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=189342) and it made me think of your site. The history is so interesting.
West 20th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues is a beautiful block. The General Theological Seminary runs the length of the north side of the block. The south side has some beautiful Greek Revival buildings. But I’m writing about 454 W 20. Based on an exhibit I once saw at the 5th Avenue Public Library, this building was where Jack Kerouac wrote “On the Road”. In a place like London, this house would proudly display a plaque to that effect. Here there is nothing. Could you consider a mini series showing these undocumented literary landmarks that pepper our wonderful city?
Thanks for the fab idea. When I started this site, I intended to do a lot of literary postings–places writers lived, blocks where famous books took place, that kind of thing. But with so much history in New York, it’s easy to get distracted. Kerouac is a great writer to cover, since he lived and wrote in so many little apartments and residence hotels all over the city.
It’s amazing there are so many photos of Jack Kerouac, from being stoned at Columbia University, to working on a ship around the world, to being drunk in Times Square on New Years Eve etc.. Can imagine what he would have left us in the age of the Internet…
My brief somewhat contact with him was I knew his printer at the time, Igal Roodenko, who printed his “Vanity of Duluoz” in the early 60s but Igal remembers him as not a nice man. I never found out what he did…
He was probably drunk all the time. Or maybe he stole his printer’s girl? Kerouac had a way with the chicks. Joyce Johnson’s bio, Minor Characters, and the book of Kerouac letters she published are pretty insightful.
I remember a quick news story on channel 5 when I was growing up (late 80s to early 90s) – a construction worker decided, on his lunch break, to climb the cables of a downtown bridge (I can’t recall if it’s the Brooklyn bridge or what). The story showed him swinging from cable to cable, like it was a trapeze for him to play on – do you have anything on that? The video has haunted me (but in a good way) for years, and I’ve yet to find anything about it. A part of me wonders if it truly did happen.
I have 6 New York Transit tickets (uncut) that are over 100 years old and would like to know if you have an idea where I might be able to sell them? I have pictures I can email you if you receommend how I can do so. Any input would help. Thanks.
I am looking for any information regarding Lincoln Place, a short street that cut through the block between E. 118th Street and E. 119th Street and Third and Lexington Avenues. It appears on city maps from 1894 through 1934
I have just spent a good part of today going through all the pages on Ephemeral New York, and love it!
I have 2 photographs of work crews from Blackwell’s/Welfare/Roosevelt Island taken in the early 1900s. One of the crews has 2 African-Americans. My great-grandfather was part of these crews. Would you be interested in having me email you copies of these pictures?
One question that’s been gnawing at me is: I seem to recall reading about an ancient Manhattan neighborhood that still exists somewhere in the West 60s. If not mistaken, it’s a gated community consisting of gingerbread-type houses.
Can you provide any information? I can’t seem to find mention of it anywhere.
Excellent site with a lot of content.
I’m sure you’ve seen it but
Forgotten New York is also good http://www.forgotten-ny.com/
Love to see something about Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop
virtually unchanged since 1928.
My husband is descended from Robt. Blackwell/Manningham, I would like a picture of the arch that reads Blackwell, I have all info I need for this family, I am a genealosit of many years, will share any info., Bonnie Blackwell, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A friend who blogs in L.A. turned me on to your site – wonderful, wonderful! I’ve written on some NY ephemera, including the Amiable Child Monument up past Grant’s Tomb. I’ll be checking back regularly, and will link to your site on my own blog.
That “tough old guy” on the tenament you posted today may be a Green Man – a symbol of rebirth and Spring that dates back to the middle ages. Actually he’s a pretty universal mythical figure across many cultures but he turns up in a lot of architecture in the UK. There are some good examples on Wikipedia if your interested. Tough Old Guy may be a restrained example or just a Tough Old Guy, who knows.
I adore this site and have made it my homepage. Keep up the good work. You keep me looking up and that can’t be bad!
Have always enjoyed looking at “old” maps and seeing how things have changed. Marble Hill Happens to be a favorite. I have put together three maps that show the three different stages of “evolution”. Will send to your e mail. Keep up the good work!
Have you ever heard of the Straw Hat Riots in the 20′s? I have some info on it I can send along if you’d like, PDFs and such, but it’d be perfect for you. It’s as hysterical as it sounds. You can probably do a little Googling yourself but I like to do Nexis searches on the stories here I find interesting and dig a little deeper. Enjoy the site.
Awesome stuff. I have a fairly large collection of NYC Subway signs that I am just starting to market……thought maybe this site might have some info for me. Let me know, I’d be happy to send you some pictures. I have Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Yankee Stadium, Times Square….and the list goes on. Keep up the good work.
If you have any interest in original porcelain signs, I have quite a few. Pricey but all orginal and some in mint condition. My website only has 10 or so on there but I have over 100 signs to sell. Let me know and if you have the time check out the site.
I’m trying to find information/pictures of Menemsha bar and cocktail lounge on 57th St. It was decorated with marvelous murals of sea scenes. Every so often, speakers would come on that played ocean sounds. Was an incredible place for dates in the 50s and 60s. And good drinks too!
Born, raised, and still living on the Upper East Side, I am amazed at how awesome this website is. I “liked” it on facebook and am glad I accidentally came accross this while web browsing. Does every New Yorker proud! I could spend hours getting lost on your site. Thank you!
Wilde. your site is great. i’m avid picture taker and see many of the weird and fantastic posted here on your blog. forgetfull as i am though what’s your facebook name so i can add to my friends.
many thanks for your dedication (and i hope your enjoyable hobby for you) phil
Hi, I received an email notification about the referenced post, but when I click on the link, all I get is “Error 404 – not found.” So I went directly to your site and the only the last entry I’d already read, about the arch at the entrance to the old Inwood estate. I assume you’ve taken down the Pell & Mott street entry in order to edit or something like that, but thought I’d let you know that it’s unavailable in case something else is wrong. I was intrigued by your observation that there were no Chinese people in the picture. How could that have happened? I look forward to seeing the post when it’s back up. Thanks.
Johannah (sometimes sign comments as “Josie”).
Thanks Josie for your email. I’m having trouble with wordpress.com; I’m not able to upload photos for some reason, which is why I yanked the post down. I managed to get it back up but don’t know if I’ll be successful with the next post. I hate being at the mercy of technology I don’t understand!
Your site is phenomenal. It is an amazing example of what passion, research, and an appreciation for the ordinary can do. I am sharing this site with my 11th grade U.S. History class, since we’re doing urbanization/immigration/industrialization in the late 19th century (and we’re in New York). They should be finding something that interests them on the site and adding a valuable, informed comment. Hope it works. Anyway, thank you for the extraordinary resource!
I really love this informative site. I remember screaming in horror and laughing at the same time over the headline “Headless Body in Topless Bar” in 1983. I also recognize many stories from 1930s NYC, especially Queens, where my mother grew up (Sunnyside, Woodside, Laurel Hill).
I wonder if any readers have information about Gypsy camps in 1920-and 30s Queens (Laurel Hill perhaps?) My mother told me that every year the gypsys came, and all the Irish mothers would try and frighten their kids into staying away from them.The Gypsies, Calvery Cemetery and cannibal child killer Albert Fish seemed to provide a lot of excitement to the kids of the area back then.At any rate, it is hard to imagine hills, woods,meadows and Gypsy caravans in Western Queens!
Here’s a story I’d be interested in. Have you ever done anything on them? Julian’s Pool Hall was on 14th Street just across the street from Con Edison Building, on the side of the Academy of Music. Was up one flight of stairs and attracted a sleazy group of pool players who looked like they were from the 1950s. I was there last for a pool game in the 90s and there was little difference from what I remember in the early 60s. Shifty, smoking characters were the norm. It was late at night about one or two in the morning but the pool hall seemed to be having business at a steady pace. The only difference was in the prices, up astronomically from the 60s, as usual. But it’s now a NYU Building.
Thanks Lisanne! I got this from Wikipedia:
*At this time, Another unique character of Maspeth was the presence of a distinct group also called Maspeth home. Undeveloped Eastern Maspeth became a camping ground for the Maspeth Gypsies. The Maspeth Gypsies were a tribe of Ludar Gypsies who settled in the area. They were well known for their performances and shows involving trained animals. They wore bright colored clothing. They had a tribal king named Georgevitch, and their village stood within Maspeth until 1934, when it was razed. *
Maspeth is close enough to where my mother grew up- this tribe could be the ones my mother remembers- she was 9 yrs old in 1934.
I’ve just came across this blog and went through every post in 3 days. May I suggest a post on Harts Island? According to my research this island has quite a history…
As “potter fields” progressed northwards with city’s north expansion, most were turned into parks. Washington Square Park, Madison Garden, etc… have had thousands of bodies buried before they became parks. Hart’s Island, which served as a farm, hospital, insane asylum, civil war cemetery and Nike missile base, has been turned into a modern version of potters field. Please read the bible’s description of potters field…following of Jesus’ execution, Judas felt horrible for betraying in return for 30 silver coins. Feeling guilty he threw the coins into a temple, with which the priest bought infertile clay fields outside the town walls to bury the unwanted. This is currently Harts Island’s function: burial grounds for unwanted, unclaimed and stillborn. If I am not mistaken there are close to 1 million New Yorkers buried there. Burial is performed by Rikers Island inmates Monday thru Friday. I think that each day of the work week is dedicated to each borough. There was a photographer that documented this process…I forgot the name of the photographer, but the images are very striking (especially seeing prisoners standing around number of small wooden caskets of stillborn). Because real estate is hard to get by in NY and Island is already filled to its capacity (water runoff in the spring causes graves to expose themselves), every ten years bodies are exhumed and cremated. I looked at the records of the unwanted/unclaimed and noticed a very interesting pattern…dead in the past were documented much more thoroughly than today. As a matter of fact there is a constant decline in details on the person. I think that today it limits itself to name, age and gender.
Also, first AIDS victim in NY is buried on the island.
enjoying the site. i’m a 61 yr old painter..i do streetscenes of nyc…mostly greenwich village, soho, chinatown…my site: bluehillartist.com (check out denizen of the dark, magazine)…i’m back in nyc in apri ..i can be found on the corner of prince/w.bway….most days…selling my pix. glcrosby
I am looking for photos of 337 Broadway, either the whole building or photos of part of the front in the time frame of 1860 to 1920. My understanding is that the building was demolished about 1922. Thanks in advance for your help.
Suggested minor correction to the current post, “Eating–and getting picked up–at the Automat”: The spelling of Ginsberg’s first name appears several times, consistently, as “Allan” but it should be “Allen.” If it appeared as “Allan” in Patti Smith’s book, it was erroneous there too. An easy fix. I didn’t want to put this suggestion as a comment on the page itself. Great post, thanks.
Thanks Josie. I was a little loopy last night when I wrote that post, but I’m pretty sure I copied the spelling of “Allan” straight from the book. Though it’s hard to believe it would be wrong there. I’ll look tonight and adjust accordingly.
hi there–just found your site. i was looking up the hotel McAlpin for my father, who was visiting NY and stayed at the McAlpin as a kid during WWII. fabulous info, and he was so pleased to see pics of the hotel. i looked at some of your other posts, what a terrific blog. thanks!
What a terrific blog! I happily discovered it while trying to find out whether there were elephants at the CP Zoo in 1925, and now I know there was at least one, Jewel. I’m researching a novel set partially in 1920′s New York and am looking for photos and any info I can find about the city, Central Park, apartment buildings (grand and less so), tearooms, restaurants, speakeasies, shops, everyday people, etc. I recently discovered Rider’s Guide to New York City (the 1923 version) at the NY Hist. Society, which is fantastic. Do you have any recommendations for other books or exhibits that could help?
Thanks so much! There are a lot of resources covering New York in the 1920s, so it really depends on what you’re looking for and what neighborhoods you’re focused on. If you can narrow down the scope, I (and other ENY readers) may be able to help.
Narrowing is so hard when I want to read and look at everything I can get my hands on. I’d say I’m primarily interested in midtown (for office buildings), Upper East Side (for grand apartment houses or town houses), Upper West (more modest town houses), Harlem as an entertainment destination, and Central Park — who was using the park and how were they using it. I’m also interested in transportation — subway, the el, street cars and taxis. I know this is a lot. I’d love any insight you or anyone else may have.
I absolutely love your site! Thanks for all of the NYC insight.
I’ve been living in a back house on Powers St. (between Judge and Olive) in Brooklyn for a few years and have been having difficulty finding any info about the hidden homes (there are about 8 that I can see from my yard but I think there are more on my block). I’ve read everything I can find about the rear houses in Manhattan but have found next to nothing about the ones in Brooklyn.
Do you have any insight?
Hi, so for this Modernist Poetry class, we’re annotating the poem The Bridge by Hart Crane and I came across the picture of Columbus Circle that you featured in this blog. I was wondering if it would be okay to use it on the website I provided above. thanks!
My wife and I have always been fascinated by the large ornate building on the east side of 6th avenue between 18th and 19th sts (now subdivided into many clothing outlets). It looks as if it might have
been a major department store at one time in the distant past.
Does anyone know who was the original tenant of this building?
P.S. I DO recall (as a youngster) the Wanamaker’s store on Broadway
(at 9th, I think) that had a monorail (sort of) that circled the interior
atrium. Do photos exist?
The faded remnants of The Fat Black Pussycat Bar on Minetta St. was painted over yesterday by the owners of Panchitos Restaurant. Tour groups would often stop to see the faded signage and the building, where Dylan wrote Blowin’ In The Wind. It’s stupefying…ARGH!!
What a shame! I’ll bet they had no idea what they were doing. Weren’t even curious. Businesses (and tenants) moving into the old neighborhoods because they understand them to be newly-desirable “locations” are often actually clueless as to their history and value.
… I sure hope that Ephemeral New York, as a great voice, educator, custodian and proponent for NYC history and historic preservation posts something about the arrogance and ignorance of the owners of Panchitos. With one coat of paint, Panchitos robbed countless people for generations to come, the pleasure of wandering down Minetta Street and “discovering” a true rare moment of ephemeral NY. I suspect that Panchitos knew exactly what they were doing.
As the Village continues to lose a big part of its DNA… I don’t see this as a small loss..
Does anyone remember the Bun ‘n Biurger places? Don’t know how many there were. The one I went to frequently was on Madison about 50th St. The burgers and steak fries were superb in memory. At lunchtime there was always 2 or 3 people standing in back of you waiting for a seat at the counter
Hi, I am writing my memoir, and I used to work at the Martinique Hotel on 32nd and Broadway. I would like your permission to use your content in my book. The pages about Herald Square and welfare hotels. If this is ok, how would you like me to credit you.
And, your site is incredible!! Thank you so much for posting all of this for us! Wow! Lyn
Hi there- i get the updates and LOVE them. This site is great. Actually, the only site i have ever signed up on for updates and open and read every one. Usually i end up deleting recurring email updates.
My husband and i live in south florida. We are going to nyc in two weeks. Staying at the W in union square. Other than making sure to make it to greenwood cemetery to take photos, we have nothing planned. Does anyone have any neat ideas? We go a few times a year every year and want to do new things. Any help is greatly appreciated!
thanks for the kind words! I don’t know how familiar you are with the city, but the two things that come to mind are the High Line; you must see New York’s abandoned railway turned lovely park. And Prospect Park, Olmsted and Vaux’s other beautiful city park, which some say beats Central Park.
My wife and I were recently in the Midtown to Times Square area and saw a building on a corner where there were the latin names of Ivy League schools carved into the side of the building. Any idea what that building is and where it is located?
My grandfather immigrated from Italy in 1921, and he listed on his app for soc sec in 1936 that he was working for Angelo Marano at the Diana Ballroom at the corner of 14th st and 3rd ave. Does anyone have any info or images of the place? I find nothing on google. Thanks Bruce
Anyone remember the Gallery Gwen on 74 E. 4th St and Irving Fiske– and the other members of the Fiske family, William, Ladybelle, Barbara, David, et al?
Irving gave talks on “Tantra, the Yoga of Sex” there for several years, as he did at the It Cafe across the street. He helped stand up with Allen Ginsberg against the movement to censor poetry in the early 1960s.
We held “folk sings,” poetry readings, and all sorts of gatherings, and then Irv would drive people to our land in Vermont for a weekend visit (donation-based, but costing $10). Many fascinating things came out of all this. I came to know the Underground Cartoonists– R Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Trina, Kim Deitch, Spain and many others… and was Art Spiegelman’s girlfriend from 1968 to about 1970 and was his friend later on.
I am writing a memoir and would be very happy to hear from anyone who remembers the Gallery and all of us, and would be interested in sharing their memories. If you came to Quarry Hill (in Vermont), I’d love to hear about that, too.
I would to know if it’s possible to get a print of a photograph on this site?
The date is December 23, 2009.,
‘Is this the oldest photograph in New York?’
It’s a photograph off Broadway and Leonard Street in Manhattan.
My Irish great grandfather worked as a night watchman while some of these buildings were being built. My ancestors lived on Leonard Street around the corner off Broadway.
Re “The busty ladies on a Henry Street Tenement,” posted on February 27, 2012…..
I live just a few blocks from this tenement building on Henry Street near East Broadway and pass these figurines often. But it wasn’t until seeing them just now on your web site that I realized they are modeled after those old-fashioned ship mastheads……and that the bearded man in the middle is a representation of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. Not surprising…since this neighborhood was (and is) just a few blocks from the East River….which was still a working port when this building was built for an earlier generation of new immigrants.
Thanks so much for creating this web site! I visit often…..It’s always a pleasure to see what what’s new here!
I believe the arch in Astoria is at 33 street just north of 23 avenue. If is DEFINITELY part of the long hells gate bridge which runs from woodside all the way to astoria (not just the span crossing the east river) Hope this helps.
If you remember the It Cafe, Cafe Le Metro on 2nd AVE, Irving Fiske, Barbara Fiske, or any of the zany crew of Quarry Hill (Vermont) who traveled back and forth to E. 4th St… please let me know!
Got to tell you what a beautiful, informative and thoughtful blog this is. I’ve only been a visitor to New York but love the tiny details that give away clues to its history.
On a past visit went to the Tenement Museum in Orchard St – really well researched, blending the history of the city with the people who have created it.
I’ve got a couple of New York-loving friends reading as well – they feel similarly.
Thanks for the great work.
Was in New York recently and saw many faded signs on building walls, many were not on main streets. Some were a little hard to read but were very cool. Had fun trying to work them out. Loved looking through the “ghost” signs on this site. Great to see someone recording these.
This site is just wonderful. I’m a NYC-lover (from Scotland) and am trying to work my way through all the amazing information you have gathered. I recently spent ages reading about the old telephone exchange names, full of character and romance somehow. Tonight I came across a photograph of the old Penn Station and was almost in tears to think that it had been destroyed – and by its own people!! How could they? Unbelievable!
A fabulous site – long may it prosper!
My name is Adam from Kips Bay Optical. I noticed you posted our sign on your website. We recently moved and sign will be removed and destroyed. Do you think anyone would be interested in this vintage sign?
Please contact me ASAP at email@example.com
I’m writing an essay for an anthology about leaving New York (which I ill-advisedly did). I am trying to remember the particulars of a couple of places I frequented in the 80s: one was a Japanese lunch spot on Fifth around 35th Street that had a carousel in the center from which one took plates that were then counted up for the bill. The other was a tea room or lunch room in the east 30s– it had to have been there since the forties at least.
Please write in if you know the names of these places. Thanks.
I think that the Japanese restaurant was called Sushi Ginza. It was directly across the street from B Altman. The food came around in a kind of conveyor belt. You’re right about the plates – they were different shapes and sizes, representing different prices. I remember that they had at least one other location, inside Penn Station. Both gone now. Sorry, I can’t help with the tea parlor.
I’d love to see what, if any, flyers or posters announcing Forrest Myers’ Aerial Light Sculpture in Tompkins Square Park from 1967 are around.
I happened upon the scene, quite by accident, and it blew my mind.
Someone may have already asked but I am having a hell of a time finding a picture of the old lot that was at the corner of Broadway and Grand. The one with the unused pavillion type thing….do you have anything? I think now its a fancy glass building.
I love how there’s always something new to see/learn about the city. Your blog is a fantastic resource. I’d like to add some 3D to the mix–https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/north-brother-island-history/id635455817?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4–
has original 3D photos taken on North Brother Island in 2007, accompanied by histories of Riverside Hospital, Typhoid Mary and the General Slocum disaster. Let me know if you would like an access code for a free download (via email).