The area surrounding Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street was ultra-trendy in post–Civil War New York, first as a residential enclave and then an entertainment and shopping district.
By 1911, when this photo was taken (it comes from New York Then and Now, published in 1976), the area was less fashionable.
But it had its landmarks and haunts—Madison Square Park on the left, commercial loft and walkup buildings, and out of view on the right, the 1902 Flatiron Building. and look, no traffic lights!
“The eight-story Hotel Bartholdi, built in 1885 at the southeast corner of Broadway and East 23rd Street, was named after the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty,” states the caption. “It was home for many sportsmen attending events at nearby Madison Square Garden.”
By 1974, this corner was forlorn and dingy. The Bartholdi Hotel was torn down after a 1970 fire; buildings on its left that had housed art galleries were destroyed in a terrible 1966 blaze that killed 12 firefighters. “The demolition of the four buildings created a large parking lot,” the book states.
In 2014, this corner—now part of the buzzy new NoMad neighborhood—is hot once again. Surrounding lovely Madison Square Park are apartment buildings and new and reconfigured co-ops.
There’s no room for a parking lot in this incarnation of Madison Square. Broadway south of 23rd Street has been pedestrian plaza-ized.
One small thing remains: a few old-school wood water towers.
Tags: 23rd Street 1970s, East 23rd Street, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street photos, Madison Square Park 1970s, New York in the 1970s, New York then and now, NoMad neighborhood, Trendy neighborhoods New York City