Posts Tagged ‘New York City 1900’

The midtown block dubbed “Rubberneck Row”

May 18, 2011

These days, West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues probably isn’t a double-decker tourist bus hot spot.

But it was around 1900, when this block reeked with power—home to the gorgeous headquarters for the Harvard Club, Yale Club, New York Yacht Club, and the New York Bar Association.

Rich New Yorkers lived on 44th Street’s new Algonquin and Royalton residential hotels. And they dined on the block in the city’s most prestigious restaurants, Delmonico’s (at the corner of Fifth and 44th Street in 1903, below) and Sherry’s.

No wonder this stretch of midtown was known as Rubberneck Row. As a 1905 New York Times article put it:

“This name was given to the street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues by the barkers on the sight-seeing coaches because of the frequency with which the passengers had to turn their heads from side to side to look at the Yale and Harvard Clubs, the Bar Association, and various other things of interest . . . while driving through it.”

When 11th Avenue was known as “death avenue”

August 16, 2010

Poor 11th Avenue. About a century ago, this unpretty stretch along Manhattan’s West Side, surrounded by factories and warehouses from Chelsea through midtown, also had train tracks on its surface to accommodate the New York Central freight line.

Problem was, cars, carriages, and pedestrians often found themselves in the way of the freight trains, earning 11th Avenue the colorful moniker “death avenue.”

To warn vehicles and people away from oncoming trains, a group of men on horseback called the West Side Cowboys rode ahead of the trains, waving a flag.

But not everyone paid attention—note the guy in white crossing in front of a train in this undated Bain News Service photo.

After years of community group and city pressure, the tracks were torn up in the 1930s. They were replaced by the High Line, which picked up its last shipment from one of the avenue’s factories in 1980. 

“After the Rain” in Madison Square

April 24, 2010

Paul Cornoyer painted a darkened, rain-slicked Madison Square Park around the turn of the century.

Madison Square looks almost the same on a rainy evening more than a hundred years later, doesn’t it?