Posts Tagged ‘St. Patrick’s Cathedral’

Rhinelander Gardens: then and now

December 30, 2009

Designed by James Renwick—architect of Grace Church on Tenth Street and Broadway and St. Patrick’s Cathedral—these “three-decker” row houses stood at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 11th Street since 1855.

I’m not sure what connection they have to the Rhinelanders—an old New York family—but the family probably owned the land they were built on, hence the name.

Another Rhinelander real estate site is just around the corner on Seventh Avenue.

Berenice Abbott took the photo in 1937. Rhinelander Gardens only lasted another 20 years. Amazingly, the city tore them down (and their lovely front lawns and cast-iron balconies!) to build P.S. 41.

The school is very 1950s. The tenement apartment building on the far right, the Unadilla, still exists.

Lost New York, by  Nathan Silver, published in 1967, has this to say:

“The setback fronts of the houses were the result of the imperfect match of the old Greenwich Village street pattern with the upper Manhattan grid. Some deep fronts can still be seen on 11th Street, but the Rhinelander row was demolished in the late 1950s.”

The second-worst fire in New York City history

September 11, 2009

You know what the worst is. Next on the list—in terms of loss of firefighter life, that is—comes the 23rd Street Fire in 1966, which killed 12 firefighters.

23rdstreetfirefuneralIt started in a brownstone at 7 East 22rd Street at 9:30 p.m. on October 17. An art dealer stored paint in the cellar, which fueled heavy smoke and a raging basement fire.

Unable to make their way to the source of the flames, firefighters went around the block to 23rd Street to try to enter through a building that shared the cellar.

Firefighters didn’t know that after a renovation, a wall in the shared cellar had been moved, weakening the floor. The entire first floor soon collapsed into the basement inferno, killing 10 firefighters. Two more died in another part of the building.

The city was astounded and distraught. Days later, 10,000 firefighters flanked Fifth Avenue as fire trucks carried coffins to St. Thomas Episcopal Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Above photo: FDNY. Below: The New York Times)

23rdstreetfire

The site is now home to a high-rise apartment house, just across from Madison Square Park. A small plaque honors the men who lost their lives there 43 years ago.