Posts Tagged ‘Carnegie Hall’

When Carnegie Hall almost met the wrecking ball

March 21, 2011

Imagine this at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue: a blood-red, 44-story skyscraper set back from the corner and surrounded by two sunken  plazas.

Sound gruesome? In the 1950s, such a building was proposed to replace Carnegie Hall, the city’s premier music hall and then the home of the New York Philharmonic.

Unfortunately, Carnegie Hall, funded by Andrew Carnegie and opened in 1891, was bleeding cash.

So developers offered to buy the site and raze the hall (above in a NYPL photo from around 1910). An architect’s rendering of the skyscraper ran in a 1957 issue of Life magazine, and a demolition date had been set for March 31, 1960.

“Although many wanted to save the Hall, and many committees to help rescue it were formed, it was only at the eleventh hour that the Committee to Save Carnegie Hall, headed by [violinist] Isaac Stern, was able to stop the impending demolition,” states

[Young ballerinas holding court on West 57th Street, trying to raise funds]

The city purchased the hall for $5 million; a nonprofit organization, headed by Stern, was chartered to run day-to-day operations.

And entertainers from Lenny Bruce to the Beatles to Judy Garland were able to perform there, along with classical greats like Pavarotti and Yo-Yo Ma.

A couple of vintage ads on Eighth Avenue

June 6, 2009

Looming over an empty lot on 46th Street is a two-fer: an ad for a a cheap hotel (hot & cold water!) superimposed over a cigar advertisement.


Vanishing New York and Fading Ad Blog spotted this one months back, but it’s in such a wonderful bit of old New York, it deserves more exposure.

Meanwhile, a pre-war apartment building near Carnegie Hall obscured by a post-war yellow residence of some kind features the kind of cigarette ad never seen anymore. This suave man smoking Barclays looks very 1980s. 


The pleasure is back! Actually, do they even sell this brand anymore?

Breaking barriers at Carnegie Hall

April 16, 2009

In 1892, soprano Sissieretta Jones became the first African American to perform at Carnegie Hall. Reportedly she sang “Ava Maria” as well as selections from Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the year-old music venue.

sissierettajonesShe was no New York City novice though. Jones had already made a name for herself singing both arias and popular tunes at smaller halls, like Wallack’s Theater on Broadway and 13th Street and Steinway Hall on 14th near University Place. At Steinway Hall she got the nickname the “Black Patti,” after Italian opera singer Adelina Patti.

A few months before her Carnegie Hall debut, she performed at Madison Square Garden as part of the “Negro Grand Jubilee” for an audience of 75,000.

Jones became nationally and internationally renowned. But frustrated by racism at many music venues, she eventually formed the Black Patti Troubadours, a vaudville-like music revue that toured major cities for decades.

She died in 1933, reportedly broke, in her hometown of Providence.