Thing is, there’s really not much of a square to be found. The viaduct appears to cut into it, creating two slivers of car-free pavement crowded by sidewalk cafe tables.
What happened to it? A century ago, the city had great plans to turn this lot, formerly the Grand Union Hotel at 100 East 42nd Street at Park Avenue, into a victorious pedestrian plaza.
The hotel was razed in 1914, and the yet-to-be-developed square was named for World War I General John J. Pershing, commander of the U.S. forces.
But it wasn’t meant to be. “The plot sat empty until 1920 when the city fathers sold it to a developer who built a twenty-four-story building there and named it the Pershing Square Building,” wrote Bill Harris in Five Hundred Buildings of New York.
Unless you count the afterthought of asphalt there now, Pershing Square basically ceased to exist after six years.
Here’s what it looked like from 1914 to 1920. At least the unusual signs remain!
Tags: 42nd Street photo, Grand Central Pershing Square, Hotel Biltmore, Hotel Commodore 42nd Street, old postcard 42nd Street, Park Avenue Viaduct, Pershing Square, Pershing Square New York, Pershing Square vintage sign