March 19, 2023

All in the DETAILS

The Tudor City Sign atop No. 45 and part of No. 25, at night.

South Park walkway to the Gazebo.

A riverview of No. 5, No. 25, No. 45, and The Woodstock.

An opposing view shows The Woodstock, No. 25 and No. 5.  

No. 45, caught between the Chrysler and Chanin Buildings.

March 12, 2023

FRED F. FRENCH and The Tin Box Parade

Judge Seabury and Fred French
in court, November 16, 1931.

Fred F. French had always been a straight-and-narrow kind of fellow. He prospered on his ambition and his clean living; he was a great man for pep talks and inspirational meetings. His treatment by the press was equally positive.

Then Judge Samuel Seabury ordered French to testify about a fee paid to a law firm that persuaded the Board of Standards to rule in his favor. To French, it was a common enough business practice; to Judge Seabury, it was against the law. An eyewitness wrote:
French was, from a coolly scientific viewpoint, a highly amusing witness. His antics were those of a Wagnerian prima donna with a burr in her seat. He felt in the episcopal Seabury a subtle lack of appreciation for his position as a leading citizen of the community. . . Any intimation that he had bought political pull, French was convinced, might place him in a bad light before the general public and cast doubt on his moral fervor. This, of course, was arrant foolishness; in New York the ownership of one million dollars is, very sensibly, an automatic certification of good character and moral infallibility. 
French was angry when he took the witness stand, and he was angry and almost apoplectic when he stepped down. He started the day in a jolly fashion by refusing to waive immunity from criminal prosecution. . . The investigative committee permitted French to retain his immunity, and the questioning, marked by frequent outbursts of temperament, proceeded. The witness resented the questions, and he resented the newspaper cameramen present.

French ended the day facing contempt of court charges when he refuses to answer questions.

Headline of Brooklyn's Standard-Union, November 17, 1931.

The following day, the papers spun the story as they will, with one journal in Brooklyn giving it front-page treatment, above. Suddenly aware that he had gone too far, French apologizes for his earlier statements, and eventually was excused. 

Later, the tale reappeared with the publication of The Tin Box Parade in 1934. The story of Seabury's investigation ‒ the 'tin box' referring to where the guilty hid their money ‒ came with a political cartoon on its cover depicting Roosevelt's shoe giving Sheriff Farley's rear end the heave-ho.

A section entitled "The Boy Wonder of Building" is about French's role in the affair.  The long quote (above) comes from this book. 

Thank you to Brian Thompson for the tip. 

March 3, 2023

The Little Dogs of TUDOR CITY


This is a story about a new children's book, The Little Dogs of TUDOR CITY that has come to our attention. Written by Jay Bua and Ralph Pope, it's frankly aimed at smaller fry, but entertaining nonetheless.

It's the story of some dogs in Tudor City whose adventures take them all over town.

We don't want to give away much more, but suffice it to say there are enough city blackouts and daring subway escapades to keep the plot hopping. Order it from Amazon or eBay.

February 26, 2023


42nd Street comes to an abrupt end at the East River, then and now. 


Above, the intersection of 42nd Street and 1st Avenue in 1940. The buildings all have something to do with the meatpacking industry. There is not much happening in the river, nor on the Long Island City side either.


83 years later, the atmosphere is quite different. On the left there are buildings part of the United Nations, and on the right the air duct for the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Across the river, once sleepy Long Island City is not so sleepy anymore. About the only thing surviving is the bed of rock in the river left over from the excavation for two trolley tunnels linking Manhattan to Queens in 1890. Today, the islet is owned by the state and is used as a sanctuary for migrating birds.

February 19, 2023

Hotel Tudor's Balconies

Above, a slightly different view of Tudor City ‒ the Westgate New York (aka Hotel Tudor), The Woodstock, Essex House, No. 25, No. 5, No. 2, and the 3Hs. The picture is enhanced because it was photographed with a fish-eye lens. The following photos all came from the hotel's Instagram account, westgatenyc, and show a different point of view.

An early-morning commune with nature.

Using The Woodstock for dramatic effect.

Beauty and the Beast.

Wedding day. 

What is he thinking?


February 11, 2023


Herbert Matter in 1937

In this installment of Tudor City notables, meet Herbert Matter, Swiss photographer/designer, and former resident of No. 45. His innovative work helped shape the vocabulary of 20th-century graphic design.

Between the years 1932-1935, he designed a series of posters for the Swiss National Tourist Office. They are much admired ‒ the Museum of Modern Art acquires them for its permanent collection ‒ and he was off and running; he left for America in 1935.

He lands in New York City where he meets Alexey Brodovitch, art director of Harper's Bazaar, who hires him as a freelance photographer. This leads to many magazine covers, above. The painter Fernand L├ęger introduces him to his future wife, Mercedes, and she moves into his Tudor City digs, a small studio in No. 45 for living and one of its penthouses for working.

The couple become friendly with some of the artists of that time: Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Alberto Giacometti, and Jackson Pollock. They leave Tudor City for good in 1943, eventually settling in Greenwich Village.

In the years that followed, Matter worked as a design consultant for the furniture company Knoll, taught photography at Yale, and was design consultant for the Guggenheim Museum. Above, a sample of his work for Knoll and the cover design for a Guggenheim show on Alexander Calder.

Matter died in 1984. His wife (pictured above) was a notable artist herself and profiled earlier by this blog. And it was their son, Alex, who raised a ruckus some years later. 

February 1, 2023


Above, an advertisement extolling the merits of the New York World-Telegram which ran in the April 29, 1940 issue of Time magazine. Let's take a closer look.

A popping headline ‒ with the all-caps word MANHATTANITES ‒ gets the message across. "They want to be near the office, yet part of the taxi-riding, theater-going, supper-clubbing night life that is the glamour of New York." 

Two families are chosen and interviewed: the "Whitbys" of West End Avenue and the "Taylors" of Tudor City. 

The Whitbys make typical pronouncements of young Manhattanites.  

Strikingly, the Taylors of Tudor City feel the same way.

After some long-winded statistics comes the result: better than 1 out of 3 families (paying $100 or more per month rent) read the World-Telegram. That's not bad at all.