June 16, 2019

New York The Wonder City

Today, a look at a two-page spread (above) from a 1932 book written by W. Parker Chase: New York the Wonder City ‒ subtitled An Illustrated Story of New York with Statistics and General Data Concerning New York's Vastness, New York's People, New York's Activities, and New York's Intimate Inside Life of 1932.

Written at the height of the Depression, the book is a work of unabashed civic boosterism. New York is "home of the world's greatest captains of industry and the world's most  stupendous structures, the veritable center of our country's wealth, culture and achievement."

Tudor City earns a two-page spread since this "marvelous achievement" is a "complete city in itself," with "palatial buildings," "refined type of neighbors," and "genuine parks with grassy lawns and real shade trees."

Tudor City "does not appeal to millionaires," however. It's geared toward "people who spend carefully."

June 12, 2019

Residents: EDMUND T. ALLEN

This installment of notable Tudor City residents spotlights Edmund T. Allen, aviation pioneer and Woodstock Tower resident. Here is his life, in bullet points:

Allen at the controls of a B-17.
✈ Born 1896 in Chicago. Begins his aviation career in World War I as a pilot instructor in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

✈ Works as a freelance test pilot in the 1920s, and is the first to fly famous aircraft like the Douglas DC-1, the Curtiss C-46 Commando, and Boeing's 307 Stratoliner. Becomes known as "the dean of test pilots."

✈ Takes an apartment in The Woodstock in the late 1930s, and is the subject of a profile in Tudor City View, the neighborhood gazette. Some excerpts:
Mr. Allen is at the top of the test-flying field, and takes them all on, from the tiniest pursuit plane to the mammoth craft that seemingly outwit all laws of gravitation. . . He spends days, and sometimes weeks, on the ground with a plane before taking it aloft. . . His practical experience and technical knowledge take a certain amount of risk out of test-hopping, and he can size a plane up and know whether to take it aloft or walk away from it. This latter alternative doesn't happen often. 
Allen in front of The Woodstock, with
a sign for the Tudor City Rental Office behind him.

✈ Appointed head of Boeing's Research Division in 1939, in charge of all flight testing. After America enters World War II, Boeing is awarded a contract to build the most technologically advanced airplane of the time, the B-29 Superfortress. Allen will be the first to fly it.

✈  On February 18, 1943, he is maneuvering the Superfortress over Seattle when an engine fire breaks out. He makes a desperate run for Boeing Field, but the aircraft crashes into a nearby meatpacking plant, killing Allen, his eight-member crew and 19 people on the ground. The aviation community is stunned, and the disaster a major setback for the war effort.  

Allen is later honored with posthumous awards for his contributions to aviation, including the Distinguished Flying Cross from President Truman.

June 9, 2019


The North Park, then and now.


This episode of Then and Now contrasts the sorry state of Tudor City's parks in 1988 to their current lush iteration. 

Following real estate titan Harry Helmsley's acquisition of Tudor City in 1970, the parks' maintenance went into serious decline. Helmsley had announced plans to replace them with luxury apartment towers, and thus saw no point in their upkeep. Though this controversial plan never happened, it unfolded over 15 long years, and the parks suffered. (More about the Helmsley era, here.)

The 'then' photographs in this post come courtesy of Tudor City Greens' archive, and were made in 1988, the year the Greens was founded, most likely to record what the Greens had inherited.  


June 5, 2019


As of May 30, 2019
Readers have been asking what's going on with the Tudor City sign, shrouded in scaffolding and netting for the last few months. Here's what we know:
✪ Though the framework is structurally sound, the steel inlays of the letters have deteriorated and must be refabricated. 
✪ Colorwise, the framework will remain black, and the letters painted a golden yellow hue, matching an earlier paint treatment around 1960 (below). There are no plans to light the sign at present. 
✪ The completion date is sketchy, given that the restoration plan must be approved by the Landmarks Commission before work can begin. The most optimistic projection forecasts completion of the project in eight months. 
Our congratulations to the shareholders of No. 45 for underwriting this long overdue restoration, which will benefit the whole community.

Circa 1960

June 2, 2019


Today's artifact, "Where Shall We Dine?", is a circa-1939 flyer promoting the enclave's restaurants. There were four options for dining and drinking at the time. 



Item from the collection of Mary Frances Shaughnessy. Thank you, MFS!

May 29, 2019

Secret Tudor City: WEATHERVANE Edition

Hidden in plain sight atop a pavilion on No. 5 is Tudor City's very own weathervane.
This copper vane has been in place since 1930, and appears to be in good shape, though the N and W letters are missing. It was made by E.G. Washburne and Co., a prominent manufacturer of the time, again demonstrating Fred French's penchant for employing the finest craftsmen for Tudor City's details ‒ firms like Atlantic Terra Cotta and Richard Spiers & Son (who did the stained glass).

No. 5's weathervane is the sole survivor of a trio of vanes that once lined Tudor City Place, as pictured below.
The vanes atop Nos. 25 and 45 are both gone with the wind, who knows why or when. What remains today, below.
Vane holder, No. 45
Vane holder, No. 25

May 26, 2019


In breaking news, there was some excitement in the colony Wednesday morning after a fire broke out in an apartment in Windsor Tower. 78 firefighters and a fleet of trucks arrived on the scene, quickly containing the fire without any injuries. The FDNY ruled the fire "accidental, caused by cooking."

What made the story newsworthy was its rather unlikely hero, a black terrier schnauzer named Scotch. The sole occupant of the apartment where the fire broke out, Scotch managed to open the window himself, allowing the firefighters to climb up and rescue him. "He does it all the time, he loves to do it," said his owner, Susan Capozzoli. "With his nose, he opens the latch and then he pushes the window out."

A human interest story if there ever was one, Scotch's rescue ‒ via fire ladder ‒ ran in the Post, the News, and on local affiliates of ABC and CBS.

The daring rescue, above. Scotch reunited with his owner, below right.

More about Tudor City and dogs, here