Posts Tagged ‘East River waterfront’

What Tudor City tells us about an older East Side

January 2, 2017

When ground broke for Tudor City in the 1920s, the idea was to create a modern and pretty mini-city at the foot of a rocky projection at 42nd Street known in Revolutionary War times as Prospect Hill.

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But before they could build apartment towers and gardens, the developers had to do something about the unsavory occupants of this far East Side neighborhood—a former 19th century gang hideout called Corcoran’s Roost (also known as Dutch Hill) and even then a major Manhattan industrial zone.

tudorcityad“The view of even 75 years ago is no more,” stated the New York Times in a 1926 article about Tudor City and the area’s history. “Swaying tree tops made way for factory roofs with their black smoking chimneys.”

“Seventy feet below the crest of the hill, running parallel with the river and lying directly under the overhanging cliff, is First Avenue with its lumber and coal yards, its slaughter and packing houses, its poor dwelling places, and with the great Edison power plant occupying four blocks of the waterfront.”

By the time the first apartment houses of a scaled-down Tudor City opened—with all the decorative bells and whistles of the English Tudor era, which was fashionable at the time—developers had bulldozed blocks of rowhouse slums.

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But there wasn’t much they could do immediately about the factories and power plant along the river below.

The solution? Construct attractive apartment towers that turn their backs on the waterfront, literally.

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Only very small apartment windows in Tudor City’s residential buildings open onto the East River. This way, the well-heeled residents wouldn’t be put off by the noise and stench of industry.

[Top photo: MCNY, 1935, X2010.7.2.6334; third photo: unknown]

Who stole this Peter Pan statue from a city park?

November 22, 2012

You’d have to be pretty brazen (or very drunk?) to abduct a statue from a city park.

But there’s something extra heartless about making off with Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up.

It happened 14 years ago in Carl Schurz Park, along the East River. There, a bronze Peter Pan has held court in the middle of a garden since 1975.

One morning in August 1998, however, Peter Pan vanished. “The statue was made by Charles Andrew Hafner in 1928 and showed the slender youth in his distinctive feathered cap and belted tunic sitting on a tree stump with a fawn, a rabbit and a toad at his feet,” wrote The New York Times.

“It had been cut off its stone base and weighed about a thousand pounds, officials said.”

Dozens of police officers investigated—this is the park that’s home to Gracie Mansion, after all. The next day, a scuba team found it at the bottom of the East River.

After divers recovered the statue, Peter Pan went back up in his usual spot in the park, where he’s been enchanting visitors ever since.

So who did it? Though no suspect was ever identified, “investigators said the disappearance of the beloved statue from Carl Schurz Park appeared, appropriately enough, to be the work of a band of overly high-spirited youths, perhaps latter-day Lost Boys who turned on their own icon,” a follow-up Times article stated.

“New York Riverfront at Night”

December 27, 2011

By day, the turn of the century waterfront must have looked industrial and gritty, the air choked with smoke.

But at night, as this vintage postcard shows, it’s another world. The city is enchanting—lit up by the glow of the moon and electric lights inside and outside buildings.