The remains of some of New York’s loveliest buildings can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places.
Take this carved stone head of a goddess. For decades, it’s sat outside the parlor floor window (between the garbage cans and coal hole cover) of the 1883 brownstone at 52 East 80th Street.
The theater, financed by William Randolph Hearst, opened to great fanfare; Florenz Ziegfeld’s renowned Follies were staged there.
But within six short years, it became a second-run movie house. By 1966, it met the wrecking ball.
Yet the goddess head survived the demolition—and it ended up on East 80th Street (below, with the copper bay window) because the owner of the home, a theater producer named Jerry Hammer, asked the right person for it.
“Mr. Hammer said that in the 1960s he was riding in a limousine with the developer Zachary Fisher, who motioned to the old Ziegfeld Theater, at 54th Street and the Avenue of the Americas, and said he was going to demolish it for a new office building,” stated the New York Times in 2004.
Hammer asked Fisher jokingly if he could have it. About four months later, ”’I hear noises outside, and it’s a truck with a crane, and a head, and they ask me where I want it,'” wrote the Times.
Hammer moved out, but the goddess head remains, a glorious relic of Roaring ’20s New York City.
[Second photo: Cinema Treasures; third photo: Google]