Archive for April, 2008

The East Village “Groovy Murders”

April 29, 2008

This unremarkable tenement building at 169 Avenue B hides a gruesome secret. In October 1967, rich-girl-turned-runaway Linda Fitzpatrick was found bludgeoned to death in a sleeping bag in the basement with her drug-dealing boyfriend, James “Groovy” Hutchinson. 

The murders triggered much hand-wringing by parents and authorities on why “good” kids like Linda were turning to drugs and the East Village hippie lifestyle. Read her story in the terrific Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times article by J. Anthony Lukas. (Unfortunately, you have to pay for it in the NYT archive.)

St. Vincent’s and the Village movie theater

April 29, 2008

Opened in 1921, the stately Loew’s Sheridan occupied the triangle at Seventh Avenue, 12th Street, and Greenwich Avenue in the West Village. But crowds dwindled, and in 1969, St. Vincent’s Hospital tore down the theater, intending to put an 8-story structure in its place. Hmm, sounds familiar…

Alas, they never did. Instead, St. Vincent’s moved into the Maritime Building next door and built an incinerator on the Loew’s site. That didn’t sit well with neighborhood activists, who remain skeptical of the hospital’s current expansion plans, as this City Review piece outlines.

Freaky trivia: In 1933, a man bought a ticket at the theater with a $5 bill. Turns out it was a marked bill from the Lindbergh baby ransom, leading to the arrest of Bruno Hauptmann, reports a 1935 New York Times article. 

(New-York Historical Society photo)

Beauty on the Upper East Side

April 29, 2008

A rare clapboard house in the East 90s. Wood-frame structures were banned by the city in the 1830s because they had a penchant for going up in flames. A dozen or so survive downtown, but many more still stand in Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, and Brooklyn Heights.


Old school, Bronx style

April 27, 2008

A class of fifth-grade boys at PS 83 in Riverdale. It’s tough to date this photo, but I’m guessing the 1920s. I wonder what become of them.

What the wrecking ball reveals

April 27, 2008

When two low-rise buildings on 13th Street off Sixth Avenue were torn down this week, a long-lost sign for Garfield Building and Painting came back to life. Also reappearing (but now behind a construction fence): a four-story Federal back house dating from the 1790s. 

Before folk singers took over Washington Square

April 27, 2008

Cars and buses were allowed to drive through the park under the Washington Arch, this 1920s postcard shows. Vehicles got the boot in the late 1950s.

Amazingly, city officials in the 1950s thought about putting a four-lane highway across the park or building a tunnel under the park that would emerge on West Broadway.

Red Hook’s revolutionary history

April 27, 2008

New street signs in Red Hook commemorate Red Hook Lane, an old Indian trail that served as the main route in and out of Red Hook to the heights of Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. 

Such an important street met a cruel fate. It existed on early maps, from Henry Street to Fulton. But by the end of the 19th century, development had reduced it to a block-long alley off Livingston Street. In 2007, Red Hook Lane suffered the ultimate blow—it was officially de-mapped! 

Also new in the Hook: The ground under a tiny triangle of land on Nelson and Columbia Streets may contain soldiers’ remains. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle covers it here.

Swimsuit season is here

April 25, 2008

This sweet ad is from a newspaper called The Daily Graphic. It’s June 1879, time to try on the latest full-body wool bathing suits at Lord & Taylor’s, then on Broadway and 20th Street. At some point between then and now, Lord & Taylor dropped the ‘s from their name.


Free Wine at The Waverly Inn

April 25, 2008

I doubt Graydon Carter needs to lure customers by offering free booze on Sunday, as the Inn’s owners did in the mid-1960s. For the back story on the pre-hipster Waverly, read this 2006 article from The Villager.


You’d have to be vigilant to stay here

April 25, 2008

No awning, neon letters, or front desk—just a tiny black and white sign welcoming you to the Vigilant Hotel, at Eighth Avenue and 29th Street. It’s been around in some form or another since at least 1907. With luxe hotels popping up all over the city, it’s nice to see a joint like this can still pay the rent in the neighborhood.