Archive for the ‘Old print ads’ Category

Beautiful curves on two Riverside Drive buildings

November 16, 2012

New York is a city of rectangles and squares.

No wonder the circular facades of two opposing 1910 apartment buildings at 116th Street and Riverside Drive seem so extraordinary.

On the south side is the 12-story Colosseum (left), the smaller of the two.

Talk about amenities: “The building boasts mahogany dining rooms, wall safes, and a ground-floor lounge for chauffeurs.”

Across the street at Claremont Avenue is the Paterno, 14 cylinder-shaped floors topped by a faux mansard roof and window that hides a water tank. “Through a spacious gateway one can drive directly into the building,” notes an ad from 1910.

Together the two residences, built by the same developer, the Paterno Brothers, form a grand gateway to Morningside Heights.

At the time, stately apartment houses were going up all over the neighborhood, which was then billed as the city’s Acropolis because of the cluster of colleges (like Columbia and Barnard) that put down stakes there.

Were the curvy facades purely for design, perhaps to mimic the gentle curves of newly fashionable Riverside Drive?

[Paterno ad: NYPL Digital Collection]

Celebrating Halloween in Central Park in 1936

October 29, 2012

Except for the pumpkin obscured in the background, there’s nothing particularly Halloween-esque about this poster, designed by the Works Progress Administration in 1936.

Though it looks like the carnival is geared toward adults, this poster for the same Halloween event clearly has kids in mind. I’d love to know what the prizes were.

Both are part of the Library of Congress’ excellent WPA poster collection from the 1930s and 1940s.

A 1983 art show on the Williamsburg Bridge

October 25, 2012

Could this May 1983 ad be the first sign of the coming artist colonization and eventual gentrification of Williamsburg?

Published in the now-defunct downtown arts monthly East Village Eye, it promoted an outdoor sculpture exhibition set up on the Delancey Street side of the empty and decrepit Williamsburg Bridge.

98 Bowery, a website that chronicles the East Village/Lower East Side arts scene of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, has a writeup and photos of the Williamsburg Bridge Show, as it was known:

“The neglected promenade seemed like the perfect place for a large-scale sculpture show. For two years, the sculptors grappled with the strict requirements imposed by the city’s Department of Transportation, which administers the deteriorating bridge.”

“The opening coincided with the centennial celebration of the Brooklyn Bridge, a synchrony which attracted attention to the show. The works, however, also attracted vandals and thieves, and a number of sculptures disappeared before a week had passed.”

You might recognize at least one artist’s name: Tom Otterness. He’s the sculptor behind those whimsical brass figures and critters at the Eighth Avenue and 14th Street subway station.

Nell’s: The trendiest nightclub in 1980s New York

August 30, 2012

Where did rock stars, artists, Wall Street traders, models, and the people who hung around them in mid-1980s Manhattan go to mingle?

Nell’s, a former electronics store-turned-nightclub on West 14th Street near Eighth Avenue. It was supposed to be a throwback of sorts, a retreat from the Studio 54 kind of excess.

The space cultivated the look of an elegant, Victorian gentleman’s club—one with a velvet rope, tough door policy, and lines stretching around the block.

This ad, which ran in the November 1993 issue of Interview gives a quick look at some of the regulars (Quentin Crisp? Salmon Rushdie?). By the early 1990s, however, Nell’s had lost some of its cachet, reports a 1994 New York Times article.

Nell’s closed in 2004, but will always be remembered as a 1980s hangout. Even Patrick Bateman, Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, was a regular.

Vintage matchbook ads for Brooklyn businesses

July 9, 2012

The one downside to the fact that so few people smoke these days? So few businesses hand out free matches as advertising vehicles.

But for most of the 20th century, matchbook ads were a popular way to get a company name and service out there—as these now-defunct Brooklyn businesses did in the 1940s.


Loeser’s was a legendary department store on Fulton Street, Brooklyn’s main shopping strip since the late 19th century. It closed in 1952.

I love this public service ad from Brooklyn Edison—now part of Con Edison, of course—for electric stoves. Cooking “electrically” probably did cut down on kitchen fires.

The Hotel Half Moon was built in 1927 to rival the fancy new hotels going up in Atlantic City. Instead, it hosted conventions, became a maternity hospital in the 1940s, and was torn down in the 1990s to make way for a senior citizen housing.

In 1941, the Half Moon earned a place in mob history: Murder, Inc. turncoat Abe “Kid Twist” Reles plunged to his death from his sixth floor room there under mysterious circumstances.

Mayflower 9-3800! But why was Coney Island’s phone exchange called Mayflower?

The banker called the “East Side J.P. Morgan”

June 14, 2012

The Lower East Side was already a growing Eastern European neighborhood by the time Alexander “Sender” Jarmulowsky arrived in 1873.

Those immigrants needed a bank they could trust, one with connections to their homelands.

So Jarmulowsky, formerly a Talmudic scholar from Russia and now the wealthy owner of a shipping business, started one.

His eponymous bank, at Canal and Orchard Streets, was a huge success.

Jarmulowsky earned a rep as an honest businessman nicknamed the “East Side J.P. Morgan” who paid 100 percent on the dollar during the occasional bank run.

States the Museum at Eldridge Street: “As one Yiddish newspaper described him, ‘Jarmu-lowsky was living proof that in America one can be a rich businessman but also be a true, pious Jew.’”

The 12-story bank building at Canal and Orchard Streets he built in 1912 still stands today. Unfortunately Jarmulowsky never got to see it; he died that year. His sons took over, but they were more Bernie Madoff than J.P. Morgan.

When customers went to withdraw their money to send to relatives abroad during World War I, they found out their savings were gone.

The Jarmulowsky building was sold for $36 million earlier this year—way too late to benefit any of the account holders who lost their savings.

Where gentlemen got their hair done in 1852

June 7, 2012

The St. Nicholas Hotel, between Spring and Broome Streets on Broadway, was an opulent marvel of a hotel that catered to New York’s wealthy elite in the years before and after the Civil War.

Opened in 1853, it was the first hotel to offer “water closets” with hot and cold water as well as gas in every room.

Guests also had the opportunity to get coiffed and groomed, thanks to Phalon’s, the “hair dressing establishment” located in the hotel.

“A clean hairbrush for every visitor” Phalon’s advertised, reports a 1934 New York Times article on wood engravings, from which this 1853 print was likely made [from the NYPL Digital Collection]

The St. Nicholas bit the dust in 1884.

Vacation homes hidden on downtown rooftops

May 17, 2012

I love the compact rooftop houses that pop on on residential buildings all over the city—especially when they look like they belong on Cape Cod or in the Catskills rather than Chelsea or the West Village.

This sweet little ranch resembles something you’d find out West. Even the few trees shading the house have a big-sky vacation feel.

If you lived here, you’d wake up each morning under one of the coolest faded ads in Manhattan.

New York City doesn’t have too many saltbox houses. But then there’s this little bit of Massachusetts on a rooftop just south of Madison Square Park. The drawback: living steps away from an Apple billboard.

This Eighth Avenue and West 13th Street three-story home could fit near the dunes in Amagansett, no? It’s a smaller, contemporary version of the building it’s perched on top of.

Check out more incredible rooftop living quarters here.

Long-defunct clubs of 1980s Manhattan

April 12, 2012

They’re physically gone, but these performance spaces still live on in vintage newspaper ads—in this case the September 1984 issue of monthly East Village arts paper East Village Eye.

It must have been rough getting over to Chandalier, between Eighth and Ninth Streets off Avenue C. In 1984, this wasn’t exactly gentrified territory.

“The door opens onto a long narrow room, the front half of which serves as the performance space and seating area,” states this reference. “The back half houses the wooden bar with several wobbly stools, a fireplace that doesn’t seem to work, and piecemeal old furniture where spectators sit waiting for the performance to start.”

Today the building houses a hardware store.

The Shuttle, not far away on East Sixth Street between Avenues A and B, opened in 1984. A former squat, the space hosted readings, art exhibits, and East Village character/character actor Rocket Redglare’s cabaret show.

121 West 31st Street is an unmarked storefront, and almost no trace of Pizza a Go Go—a former dance club?—remains.

But there is this reference to the place; it’s on a page of party pics featuring a young Madonna and other cool kids from a monthly paper called NY Talk.

“The best New York bands of the late ’70s”

January 16, 2012

That’s according to this early 1980s ad, offering a free cassette (cassette!) of the best 1970s downtown rock to anyone who forks over $12 for a year’s subscription to the East Village Eye.

Television and Patti Smith are at the top of the list, as well as lesser-known bands who haven’t been quite so mythologized, such as The Model Citizens and Theoretical Girls.

It was a very different East Village scene than the one we have today, explains Lisa Robinson in a 2002 Vanity Fair article, by way of Bryan Waterman’s 2011 book, Marquee Moon:

“No one talked—ever—about the stock market. No one went to the gym. Everyone smoked. Bands did two sets a night. Television jammed for hours at a time. Onstage (and off), Patti could talk like nobody’s business. . . . Patti Smith and Television and the Ramones and Talking Heads and Blondie were like our own little black-and-white 8mm movies that we thought would conquer the world.”