Posts Tagged ‘Lorraine B. Diehl’

Stripping the grand Ansonia Hotel of its cornices

September 23, 2010

This website is a big fan of New York City building ornamentation: statues, grotesques, lanterns, and other eye-catching decorative elements. 

So it was quite a shock to come across this 1942 photo (published in Over Here: New York City During World War II, by Lorraine B. Diehl) showing workmen removing a cornice from the roof of the Upper West Side’s Ansonia Hotel.

But there was a reason: a World War II scrap metal drive. By the 1940s, the once-grand Beaux Arts gem on Broadway and 72nd Street had fallen into disrepair.

Apparently management did not think the building, which would eventually become luxe condos on the again-fashionable Upper West Side, would miss its cornices.

If the Blitz crossed the Atlantic to New York City

July 29, 2010

Even before the Blitz began in England in September 1940, city officials had feared German air attacks here in New York. 

“Knowing that his city would be a prime target, [Mayor La Guardia] believed it was imperative that New York City begin taking steps to protect itself,” writes Lorraine B. Diehl in Over Here! New York City During World War II.

In June 1940, “In addition to 62,000 air-raid wardens, the mayor was asking for 28,000 specially trained volunteers to manually turn off the city lights in the event of a blackout. A fire auxiliary force was already being trained, and volunteer ‘spotters’—who would remain on rooftops should enemy planes attack—were being canvassed.”

This 1940 poster, by editorial cartoonist Rollin Kirby, pulls no punches letting New Yorkers know how devastating a similar attack here would be.

It and other vintage posters are on display starting Friday at Swann Galleries and will go up for auction August 4.