Posts Tagged ‘vintage postcards New York’

A “Victorian folly” in the middle of Central Park

April 1, 2013

Aside from many beautiful churches, there’s not a lot of Medieval-style architecture in New York City.

But there is Belvedere Castle, a Gothic structure in the middle of Central Park with a stone facade and turrets that’s meant to invoke the idea of a romantic Medieval villa.


Like so much of the nature-inspired yet artificial park, it was created purely out of Victorian folly, with no other purpose than to enchant visitors.

“Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park, created the miniature castle in 1869 as one of its many whimsical structures intended as a lookout to the reservoir to the north (now the Great Lawn) and the Ramble to the south,” states the Central Park Conservatory.

CentralparkbelvedereBuilt as an open-air structure without doors or windows on a part of the park called Vista Rock, it almost looks as if the castle is rising out of the rock itself.

Belvedere Castle was called into service in 1919, when the United States Weather Bureau moved its observatory there. As the castle and the park fell into disrepair in the 1970s and 1980s, the weather bureau departed to another compound in the park.

It’s now a renovated and spiffed up visitor’s center and nature center, and climbing the winding stone steps leads to a wonderful vantage point to “take the view,” as Victorian-era New Yorkers would have said.

[Photo: Central Park Conservatory]

The most beautiful police headquarters ever built

March 13, 2013

This turn-of-the-century postcard can’t stop boasting about 240 Centre Street, built in 1909 to serve the newly consolidated police department in the now five-borough city.


According to the back of the card, it’s made of Indiana limestone, cost $1.5 million to build, holds a detectives bureau, rogues gallery, 75 basement cells, a drill room, and a gym.

Oh, and perhaps my favorite, there’s a “play-room for lost children.” Were lost kids a problem in 1909?

I wonder if the police force of a century ago could have ever imagined that their headquarters would become the Police Building co-op apartments in 1988, and that the neighborhood would go from Little Italy to a posh enclave known as Nolita.

This Zillow listing for a one-bedroom (it costs more than the entire structure did in 1909!) gives a nice glimpse of the marble lobby and cupula.

Madison Square Garden moves to Eighth Avenue

March 4, 2013

This 1930ish postcard shows what was then the “new” Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue and 49th Street.

It’s the third incarnation of New York’s iconic arena, and the first one located no where near Madison Square.


It moved here in 1925, and for the next four decades hosted boxing matches, circuses, rodeos, Billy Graham revivals, ice shows, and of course the Rangers and the Knicks.

Was this a good place to watch a game? It looks awfully cramped and crowded from outside.

In 1968 the Garden moved again, this time to its current home at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue. In its place we have the office tower Worldwide Plaza, which looks strangely similar to the old MSG.

Some great old photos of the Garden and its very cool marquee can be found at Wired New York.

Before there was Battery Park City

December 12, 2012

Before the Hudson River Greenway, the new Stuyvesant High School, and landfill from building the World Trade Center was dumped off the lower west side to create Battery Park City, this part of Manhattan was a collection of piers.


The Singer Building opened in 1908, and the back of the postcard is stamped 1911. This glimpse into the past, then, captures a moment within those three years.