Posts Tagged ‘42nd Street’

From filthy slum to Tudor City

August 18, 2008

Nineteenth century New York had plenty of poor neighborhoods. But one of the worst was Dutch Hill, a shantytown of squatters and rag-pickers near 42nd and Second Avenue. This undated illustration gives the general idea:

 

In the 1870s the city razed the shacks and constructed tenements and brownstones. The housing improved, but it was still a poverty-stricken, predominantly Irish area ruled by gangs and composed of unpleasant industries like tanneries, breweries, and slaughterhouses. And the Second Avenue elevated train roared ahead all day and night.

But not for long. In the mid-20s the huge Tudor City complex was built on the site. A dozen apartment houses with more than 3,000 residences, plus shops, a hotel, and landscaped parks sprang up, all in the English tudor style popular in the 1920s. Tudor City was kind of a suburb within the city, and today, it’s a pretty, tranquil, non-trendy enclave.

There’s a good reason the apartments feature very few window facing East. Developers didn’t want prospective residents turned off by the nasty sight and smell of the factories along the East River that still existed when Tudor City was completed.

For more information on Dutch Hill and Tudor City, click here.

Peering underneath Grand Central Station

July 21, 2008

Let’s say you could peel back the street and view the subways and train lines criss-crossing one another beneath Park Avenue and 42nd Street. Here’s what you’d find, circa 1920.