April 17, 2019

The Tudor City Tulip Festival REVISITED

We discussed the Tudor City Tulip Festival in an earlier post, and recently came across more photographs from the festival over its short life, from 1936 to 1940. All photos were made in the North Park, and originally appeared in Tudor City View, the enclave's monthly magazine.

Looking down at the crowd at the 1939 festivities from a window in No. 45. 
A temporary stage [hidden behind the tree] was home to a variety of performers. 

Baritone Glenn Darwin performing on the temporary stage, 1939. 

Students from Miss Traver's School, the local kindergarten, decked out in Dutch costumes and not looking especially thrilled about it, 1939.

1936. Mannequins modeling outfits from Windsor Gowns, the local dress shop in No. 5. 

Interpretive dancer Calliope Charisse, performing a dance of her own creation, "La Tulip Noire," in 1937. She is accompanied by five of her children, who often performed with her.


Tudor City continues to offer entertainment in its parks thanks to the efforts of Tudor City Greens. See the 2019 schedule of events here.

April 14, 2019


Without a doubt, the view down 42nd Street from the Tudor City Bridge is the enclave's most Instagramable attraction. Below, some of the more interesting efforts culled from many, many entries.

April 10, 2019


Above and below, Mercedes Matter photographed by her husband, Herbert, in 1940.

This episode of notable Tudor City residents profiles painter Mercedes Matter, a player in the New York art scene of the 1940s. Her life, in bullet points:

✫  Born Mercedes Carles in 1913, daughter of an artist and a model. Shows an early interest in art and begins to paint in the abstract style in her teens.

✫  Hired as an assistant/translator for Fernand Léger, famed French painter, in 1936. Léger goes on to introduce her to her future husband, Herbert Matter, a Swiss photographer and graphic designer.

✫  The couple hit it off immediately and Mercedes is soon living with Herbert in No. 45, where he rents two apartments: a modest studio used for sleeping, and a grand penthouse used for working.

Two illustrations of the work space, below.
Studio in New York (Tudor City) by Herbert Matter, ca. 1937.

Herbert Matter's Studio by Mercedes Matter, ca. 1937

✫  They marry, and relocate to a rowhouse at 328 E. 42nd St. [since demolished], next to The Woodstock. Active in the emerging New York art scene, the couple socializes with a number of about-to-be-very-famous artists: Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning and Alberto Giacometti, among others. Given her striking looks, Mercedes is considered something of a femme fatale within the group.

Mercedes photographed by Herbert in Provincetown, 1940

✫  The Matters leave Tudor City around 1943, eventually setting down roots in Greenwich Village and East Hampton. In 1964, Mercedes founds the New York Studio School, a highly regarded art school emphasizing drawing from life, which proves to be her legacy.


Years later in 2003, the Matters' only child, Alex, discovers a cache of reputed Jackson Pollock paintings in his father's storage locker. But that's a whole other story.

April 7, 2019


Today the wayback machine travels way back to 1941, a simpler time when Tudor City offered its tenants a wide variety of community activities ‒ everything from bridge groups and photography clubs to art exhibitions, amateur theatricals, and tulip festivals. 

Among these entertainments was exhibition dancing, in this case courtesy of Arthur Murray, the ballroom dancer/instructor who became well-known in the '30s after introducing America to two new dance crazes, the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. He quickly parlayed this fame into a nationwide chain of learn-to-dance studios that's still in business. The hip-shaking rhumba [pictured above] was a popular exhibition choice ‒ it was fun to watch. 

April 3, 2019

REAL ESTATE REPORT: What's Your Apartment Worth?

Our occasional survey of recent sale prices in Tudor City, via Streeteasy:

Vintage sign in No. 5's lobby
The Cloister 
$286,000, Apt 703, studio
$315,000, Apt 715, studio

Essex House
$1,590,000, Apt PH1, two bedroom
$290,000, Apt 503, studio

Haddon Hall
$825,000, Apt 504C, two bedroom
$925,000, Apt 603C, two bedroom

Hardwicke Hall
$885,000, Apt 401B, two bedroom
$359,000, Apt 306, studio

Hatfield House   
$305,000, Apt 206, studio
$350,000, Apt 1404A, studio

The Hermitage 
The Hermitage is a rental-only building. Recent monthly rentals:
$4,250, Apt 701, three bedroom
$1,995, Apt 403, studio

The Manor  
$542,000, Apt 806, one bedroom
$520,000, Apt 714, one bedroom

Prospect Tower, No. 45
$935,000, Apt 607, two bedroom
$355,000, Apt 1521, studio

Tudor Gardens, No. 2
$740,000, Apt 11KN, one bedroom
$675,000, Apt 5LS, one bedroom

Tudor Tower, No. 25
$415,000, Apt 1708, studio
$335,000, Apt 1401, studio

Windsor Tower, No. 5
$415,740, Apt 421, studio
$290,000, Apt 1437, studio

Woodstock Tower
$570,000, Apt 1210, one bedroom
$448,000, Apt 2611, one bedroom


This cycle's Big Ticket is Penthouse 9 in Windsor Tower, now on the market for a cool $2,850,000. This two-bedroom two-bath triplex's wow features include a fireplace-equipped double-height living room with 24 casement windows, and a 1,000-sq-ft private roof terrace. Monthly maintenance: $5,030.

See its Brown Harris Stevens listing here.

ALSO: This blog's favorite balladeer, Vincent Cross, will be performing his Paddy Corcoran compositions this weekend at the Brooklyn Folk Festival. Details here.

March 31, 2019

Ode to Spring

At last, spring has sprung, prompting this selection of vintage ads touting the joys of the season in the colony.




March 27, 2019

Prospect Tower MODEL APARTMENT, 1936

Redecorated living room of Apartment 1410, Prospect Tower.

A look back to 1936 when a Tudor City apartment was remodeled for a Woman's Home Companion article entitled "A Small Home on a Small Budget."

Virginia Hamill, the magazine's Interior Decoration editor, explained how the apartment was chosen. "We selected an average two-room-kitchenette apartment from hundreds of similar ones, being careful to choose one that possessed no unusual decorative or architectural features. . . This particular apartment is located in Prospect Tower, Tudor City, and will be on exhibition during the month of June. . ."

The design scheme was simple: "Both rooms were done in much the same color scheme, to give an impression of spaciousness and to allow interchanging of furniture." 

The cost of the renovation was a bargain $250 (roughly equivalent to $4,600 today). The article wistfully concludes "of course, with only $250 to spend, we couldn't buy everything of a quality that would last your lifetime, but we did buy nicely designed colorful things that should last until your ship comes in."

Another view of the living room. The couch does double duty as a day bed, which "originally stood a little higher on its legs than we wanted. We sawed off two inches from the two front legs and two and a half inches from the rear legs, giving the bed a slight backward slant so that it would be more comfortable for sitting, and still be comfortable for sleeping."

The bedroom, above, continues the same color scheme with "a brief touch of frivolity in the ruffled dressing-table skirt. Three colorful flower prints on the wall at the head of the bed give it height and make up for the lack of head and foot boards."


Editor Hamill would return to Tudor City the following year to refurbish an Essex House one-bedroom. Read all about it here.