Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Circle’

What Columbus Circle looked like in the 1920s

November 16, 2012

The traffic around the circle seems chaotic, and the fountains that surround it now wouldn’t come for another 80 or so years.

The yellow Victorian-looking structure in the center is the Pabst Grand Circle Hotel, torn down and replaced by the much-maligned Lollipop Building. Redone in the 2000s, it now houses the Museum of Arts and Design.

I can’t figure out what the billboard on top of the white building says. United States something? Columbus Circle had big, bright billboards and signage for decades.

The billboard eye candy of Columbus Circle

March 24, 2011

Okay, so it was no rival to Times Square.

But in its 20th century heyday, the former Grand Circle (laid out in the 1860s; the Columbus monument didn’t arrive until 1892) boasted an impressive number of eye-catching signs and landmark billboards.

Here’s the West side of Columbus Circle in a 1907 Library of Congress photo, where the Time Warner Center is today. Ads for cigars, booze, and Uneeda Biscuits dominate.

A slightly different camera angle in the teens or 1920s reveals more billboards: for cigarettes and cars.

The famous Coca-Cola ad, photographed in 1938 by Berenice Abbott (through another alcohol ad), stood for decades until the building supporting it was bulldozed in 1966.

The site then hosted the Gulf & Western Building, which was remodeled into the Trump International Hotel in the 1990s.

A wartime service at Columbus Circle

September 30, 2008

Before the Trump International Hotel and the Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle was a not-glitzy gathering place for Italian-American rallies and parades. This photo was taken in 1943. On Columbus Day of that year, The New York Times wrote:

“Because of the war and especially because Italy, the native land of Christopher Columbus, discoverer of America, is suffering such a tragic fate, the celebration tomorrow and Tuesday of Columbus Day will be more spiritual in character than ever before in the history of the United States.”

On Columbus Day the previous year, 25,000 Italian-Americans came out to show their support for the Allies, and Mayor LaGuardia gave a speech praising their loyalty and urging tolerance of minorities, as Americans of Italian decent were considered back then.


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