East 14th Street: three centuries, three views

“By 1893, New York’s entertainment world had moved up to the Herald Square area, but East 14th Street, once the city’s operatic, musical, and theatrical center, still maintained a score of attractions,” states the caption to his photo published in New York Then and Now, from 1976.


The view is of East 14th Street looking west toward Irving Place in 1893. At the right is Tammany Hall, with Tony Pastor’s vaudeville house on the ground floor—the venue that gave Lillian Russell and other Gilded Age celebrities their start.

The Academy of Music is next door. Once the city’s leading opera house and a favorite of Old New York money families, it would be upstaged by the new Metropolitan Opera and closed in 1887.

The photo has wonderful small details: a sign for oysters on the left, street lights that appear small by today’s standards in front of Tammany Hall, and a glimpse of the still-unfinished Lincoln Building at the corner of 14th Street and University Place.


By 1974, the same view is very different. The Lincoln Building is finished, but Tammany Hall is gone—relocated to Union Square East. Does 14th Street looks like it’s been widened? Hard to tell.

Con Edison’s headquarters took over the site. The Irving Hotel, visible in the 1883 photo, is now a rooming house. A Horn & Hardart automat exists, as does a bar called Clancy’s.


In 2013, Con Ed still looms large. The automat, Clancy’s, Irving Hotel, and other small businesses are gone, replaced by luxury residence Zeckendorf Towers in 1988.

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19 Responses to “East 14th Street: three centuries, three views”

  1. FRANK M Says:

    I can’t believe that it’s been 25 years since the monstrous Zeckendorf was built.

    You neglected to mention Luchow’s, one of New York’s finest restaurants and, perhaps the finest German restaurant, which was on the south side of 14th opposite what’s now Zeckendorf.

  2. Newport Carl Says:

    We just love this labor of love. What memories these bring !

  3. Pontifikate Says:

    I believe Luchow’s was on the same side of the street as The Academy of Music (where I saw a Rolling Stones show). Were there two Academy of Music buildings at different times on opposite sides of the street?

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks for the reminder about Luchow’s, how could I leave it out of this post? At the time the first photo was taken, it would have been 11 years old; my understanding is that it was on the south side of 14th Street.

    Here’s a little background with many readers’ memories of Luchow’s in the comments section:


  5. John Yohalem Says:

    The original Academy of Music (the opera house) is the one shown in the picture. It was torn down a couple of years later.

    There was indeed another Academy of Music across the street (next door to Luchow’s). It became Palladium, one of the fabled clubs of the disco era, and was later demolished.

  6. thegreenockian Says:

    I love looking at these old photographs and seeing how places have changed – not always for the better.

  7. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    In 1974 I suppose S. Klein’s Department Store would have been torn down, It was a huge 5/6 story department store that stood on 14th St and 4th Ave stretching all the way to 15th St, with an Annex continuing of 15th St to 16th for more expensive items, like furs etc. My mother always dragged me to low cost Klein’s, when I was a little older always stopped at the huge barroom and always had too much and ended up puking my guts out at Clancy’s on 14th St. Oh, those were the days…

    • mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

      Past Clancy’s & Horn& Hardart’s was a liquor store where I got my quarter pint of Smirnoff’s that in those young days would be enough to last till the evening. The 14th St subway station was right there, which at the time was a melange of tunnels, taking me to 42nd St. As I said, those were the days.

    • Richard Says:

      S. Klein’s on Union Square was torn down in 1975, so a year after the middle photo was taken.

      • Steve Says:

        The S.Klein building wasn’t torn down until that entire block was razed for Zeckendorf. I don’t remember when it was razed, but it was still standing when I moved to the area in 1977 and for a number of years after – so it stood until sometime in the early to mid 80’s.

      • Richard Says:

        Steve: you’re absolutely right, and my memory was playing tricks on me. I believe the S. Klein store at that location closed in 1975, and I conflated the store closing with the building being demolished — which as you say happened much later.

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  9. lulu Says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Moved to Greenwich Village from the Rocky mountains when I was 8 years old, way long ago.

    Hated NYC for a couple of years, but I remember the exact moment when I fell in love with it for the first time, at age 13: It was riding the crosstown bus on14th street, past all the spanish store fronts, listening to someone on the bus sing a popular spanish song—-it happened.

    (And I didn’t even speak spanish!)

  10. Rev. E.M. Camarena Says:

    The bar was not Clancy’s but Glancy’s. Blow up the image and you will see.

  11. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    Wow, fantastic find! But I’m sure you knew that from visiting ‘G”lancy’s. I used to go there for beer with my buddies, we all lived and worked in the area. Glancy’s was a neat bar, a real drinking man’s bar, which you can no longer find anymore. A huge bar to the right as you entered with tables and chairs for eating sandwiches and hot platters. Oh yeah, the men’s room was upstairs and had the most disgusting bathroom you ever saw, all you could do was gag, pee and run the hell put! Ah, those were the old days…

  12. pete Says:

    Does anyone remember after S Klein was torn down, there were
    hundreds of wooden panels up around the demolition site, along Union Square East, all individually painted in different vaguely psychedelic designs? I used to walk by there every day on the way home from school, and would always find one I hadn’t noticed before.

    S Klein and Mays were the downtown “budget” alternatives to Gimbels and Korvettes back in the early 70’s…

  13. A 1960s downtown rock club with an 1860s name | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the Academy of Music opened in 1854 on 14th Street near Third Avenue, it was New York’s premier opera house, an anchor of the city’s buzzing new […]

  14. The Gilded Age social season began in November | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] of November marked the beginning of the winter social season. Starting with opening night of the Academy of Music’s opera series on East 14th Street, the next few months would be a swirl of parties the rest of us […]

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