October 14, 2018

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Today's picture, made from a window in the Chrysler Building, captures Tudor City and the world around it on a specific day ‒ November 16, 1929. The boulevard on the left is 42nd Street. At lower right, the white building under construction is the future home of the Daily News. The smokestacks at top right, part of the Con Edison steam plant, are evidence of how industrial the riverfront still was at this time.

Of particular interest to this blog are the three signs in the photo, blown up below.

Showing the twin TUDOR CITY signs bracketing 42nd Street, atop Nos. 45 and 25. (The latter sign had a short life, removed in 1933, while No. 45's version remains in place to this day.) The warehouse buildings behind them were part of the East River's slaughterhouse district, then in full swing.

Facing the East River, there's a bonus sign for THE NEW YORK EDISON COMPANY, the neighborhood steam plant. How long this sign remained in place is anyone's guess, but the smokestacks were demolished in 2007.

October 12, 2018

Lost Tudor City: The GAZEBOS

This episode of Lost Tudor City spotlights two long-gone gazebos that once graced the South Park.

Octagonal pavilions made of heavy timber with shingled roofs, the gazebos were in the English style, in keeping with the overall design of the parks. Set on the north- and southeast corners of the park, they were in place from 1930 to 1949.
The southeastern gazebo, with No. 5 in the background.
Above, the northeastern gazebo depicted on a postcard, and on a wintertime cover of Tudor City View (photo by resident Sidney Lehman).

The gazebos were removed in 1949, when both parks were redesigned as part of the neighborhood upgrades for the arrival of the U.N. The redesign was not in the English style, and the gazebos never returned.

October 10, 2018

THEN AND NOW

The United Nations, then and now.


2011
2018
In 2011, the United Nations was in the midst of a eight-year-long renovation to refurbish its facilities. Asbestos was removed, glass walls replaced, and systems brought up to current building codes. The project was completed ‒ to the tune of $2.15 billion ‒ in 2017. 

We're happy to report that the reflection of Tudor City and the Midtown skyline on the Secretariat's glass curtain wall remains as Instagram-worthy as ever.

October 8, 2018

Strange But True: DONALD TRUMP, PARKS SAVIOR

Hard as it may be to imagine, Donald Trump played a role in preserving Tudor City's parks.

Trump and a model of Trump Tower, 1980.
Flash back to Manhattan, 1981.  Donald Trump is 35, a brash striver in the real estate game, not unlike another young up-and-comer from another era, our very own Fred French.

At the time, renowned real estate mogul Harry Helmsley is having problems with Tudor City. He bought most of the complex in 1970, and for the last decade has been trying to build apartment towers on Tudor City's two parks. There has been fierce opposition from the community, backed up by increasingly irate newspaper editorials. Helmsley's reputation is in tatters.

The current proposal on the table is a land swap ‒ the parks would be spared and Helmsley would be given a city-owned vacant lot on the corner of 42nd St and First Ave, the site of a public playground.

Enter Andrew Stein, Manhattan Borough President and parks supporter. Stein is friendly with Donald Trump, who has informed him that the playground lot is, in fact, waterfront property, and worth far more than its appraised value. Stein arranges a meeting on the eve of the Board of Estimate vote, and invites Trump to attend.

It's a set-up. Not long into the meeting, Trump effectively kills the swap by offering to buy the playground for the tidy sum of $25 million. He pulls out his checkbook and waves it in the air. "This is good," he announces. "You can call the bank to find out."

He doesn't have to say much more. The folly of the city trading valuable property for the two parks is quite plain. The playground land swap never even comes to a vote. Instead, a less desirable First Ave property is offered to Helmsley, and more debate ensues.

In the end, Helmsley finally yields in 1985, selling the complex altogether. His reputation never fully recovers from the Tudor City debacle. Years later, Andrew Stein is arrested for income tax evasion, and Donald Trump is elected President of the United States. Strange but true.

October 4, 2018

Tudor City Artifact: SUGAR CUBE Edition

Proving yet again there is no subject too arcane for this blog, today we present a truly ephemeral item ‒ a sugar cube from a Tudor City restaurant that has somehow survived in its original wrapper. We believe it dates from the 1930s.
One side promotes Tudor City and the French Company,
while the reverse identifies the contents ‒ Jack Frost brand sugar.

Sugar cubes disappeared from modern restaurant tabletops long ago, replaced by packets of granulated sweetener. Tablecloths, salt and pepper shakers, and spoons have similarly gone missing from contemporary tabletops.

October 2, 2018

Today's Chuckle

Today's chuckle comes via the Inquiring Fotographer, the question-and-answer Daily News column profiled earlier. The item ran on October 14, 1945.