Posts Tagged ‘Times Square in the 1950s’

Shooting James Dean all around New York City

June 30, 2014

JamesdeandennisstocktimessquareIn early 1955, after wrapping up his third and final movie in California, James Dean allowed photographer Dennis Stock to chronicle his return to his hometown in Indiana as well as his adopted city of New York.

East of Eden had yet to be released, and Rebel Without a Cause wouldn’t premiere until shortly after his death in September.

But Dean was a rising celeb, and in a story titled “Moody New Star,” Stock’s images appeared in the March 7, 1955 issue of Life magazine.

These photos of Dean looking introspective as he walks through Manhattan lmost 60 years ago are part of a more extensive collection available in the wonderful Life archives.


Here’s Dean brooding in Times Square and another part of what looks like Midtown, with an old-school barber pole in the frame.

The photos helped solidify his image as an outsider before the public really got to see his onscreen persona.


And then there’s this shot of him in his tiny studio apartment on the top floor of a brownstone on West 68th Street. It was Dean’s home in the early 1950s, when he was one of thousands of struggling young actors trying to make it in the city.

[Photos: Dennis Stock-Magnum/Life magazine]

Hotel Piccadilly: toast of the Theater District

January 17, 2011

New York hotels go in and out of style just like clubs and bars, and once they outlive their usefulness, the get a date with the wrecking ball.

That’s the story of the Hotel Piccadilly. Its era as a hot place to book a room or meet for a drink was from the 1930s to the 1950s.

With about 700 rooms on West 45th Street, it was in the heart of the Theater District. “Smartly located in the center of everything” was its very midcentury-sounding slogan.

The Piccadilly also had the Piccadilly Circus Lounge, “gaily colorful spot in the thick of theaterdom patronized by show folk and show goers,” states a 1949 restaurant guide, Knife and Fork in New York.

It’s no surprise, of course, that when Times Square and midtown west went downhill, so did nearby hotels like the Piccadilly.

In 1982, it was torn down—and the Marriott Marquis built on its old site.

The coolest album cover of 1950s New York City

September 25, 2010

I’d never heard of the Norman Luboff Choir before finding this gem of an album cover. It captures the energy and magic of Times Square in 1958, just before the area started to slide.

There’s the Capitol Theatre, now the Paramount Plaza office tower, at 1645 Broadway; it showed its last movie in 1968. The Astor Theater is at front left.

The “Howard” sign must be for Howard Johnson’s. And the Brass Rail, at right, on Seventh Avenue and 49th Street, had a popular cocktail lounge.