August 18, 2019

Wayback Machine: The UNITED NATIONS SITE

   A look at the site of the United Nations over the years, as seen on historic maps. When Tudor City was constructed, the land was a gritty slaughterhouse district, and thus the complex was designed to turn its back on the East River and face west.
   We've tipped in a few street names for easier orientation, but the maps all show the same view, the blocks between 42nd and 44th Streets around First Avenue. Click on maps to enlarge.

   This post‒Civil War map shows the beginnings of industry along the East River. Among these enterprises were a brewery, a pencil factory, and the N. Y. Melting Association (specializing in the rendering of animal fats, a portent of the future).
   Between 43rd and 44th Streets lies Turtle Bay Park, a block-wide beer garden on the current site of The Manor. Opened around 1851, it was operated by the Turtle Bay Brewery across the street, the progenitor of the future Jacob Ruppert beer dynasty. The park was replaced by rowhouses around 1870, when the whole area enjoyed a building boom.

   Eighteen years later, Turtle Bay Park has been replaced by rowhouses, around the same time that Prospect Place was cut out of the street grid [lower left quadrant].
   Along the waterfront, slaughterhouses, rendering works, lumber yards, coal yards, and tallow shops have sprung up as part of the burgeoning meatpacking industry.

   What was now officially called the Abattoir Center was in full swing by 1899, anchored by two meatpacking titans, Schwarzschild & Sulzberger and United Dressed Beef, and their ancillary cattle and sheep pens, slaughterhouses, fat melting rooms, refrigeration houses, hide removal rooms, and wool-pulling sections.
   The block south of 43rd Street [lower right quadrant] housed only a handful of abattoirs, mostly given over to a stone yard, a wagon yard, and a gas-pipe storage area.

   By 1927, the year that Tudor City debuted, the Abattoir Center was still very much in business. The block below 43rd Street was then home to N.Y. Edison, a steam plant.

  The Abattoir Center was demolished in 1948, and replaced with the campus of the newly formed United Nations.  


This post was inspired by a reader tip for a wonderful Tudor City map archive on the web ‒ see it here.  More about the Abattoir Center here

August 14, 2019


A Woodstock unicorn, then and now.

This unicorn, watching over The Woodstock since 1929, was manufactured by Atlantic Terra Cotta, the largest producer of architectural terra cotta in the world at the time. The 'then' photo comes from a promotional brochure for the company, and was captioned
The figure of the unicorn modeled in the Atlantic Studios occurs on every corner at the thirty-third story level. Tudor City follows the modern trend in apartment house construction.  An exterior of architectural interest is a valuable asset and an important factor in attracting tenants. 

August 11, 2019

Anatomy of a Photo: The TENNIS COURTS

Beginning a new series, Anatomy of a Photo, taking a close-up look at a single photograph. Today's subject, above, is a bird's eye view of the Tudor City tennis courts, made from a Woodstock apartment window in May, 1935. The photo looks south, with No. 5 at upper left. [The tennis courts are now the site of No. 2].
Zooming in, the building in the center is 8 Prospect Place, the holdout rowhouse that refused to sell to Fred French, thus preventing development of the lot for nearly 30 years. More about it here. The smaller, pitched-roofed structure beside No. 8 is the tennis court office.
Cabs lined up at Tudor City's official taxi stand on the corner of 41st St. and Prospect Place, with the dispatcher's booth next to the street lamp. The Parmelee taxi company had an exclusive contract in the colony. More about Tudor City and taxis here.
Only one tennis court is in use, and its players have attracted a number of spectators, lined up against the fence. More about Tudor City's tennis courts here.

August 7, 2019

Tudor City on Film: THE JEFFERSONS

This installment of Tudor City on Film spotlights The Jeffersons, one of the longest running sitcoms in television history, premiering in 1975 and running for 11 seasons. Created by Norman Lear as a spin-off of All in the Family (the Jeffersons were Archie Bunker's neighbors), the show followed a newly prosperous couple who move on up from Queens to Manhattan, making a lot of cultural adjustments along the way.

Tudor City appears briefly in the opening credits.
The credits open with the Jeffersons' moving van exiting Queens for Manhattan. 
Cut to a shot of the truck passing through Tudor City. Granted, the sequence is about three seconds long, but after opening the show week after week, it made an indelible impression within the community.

August 4, 2019

The FRED FRENCH Sales Talk

Today, a closer look at Fred F. French, Tudor City founder and accomplished salesman. Below, an account of a pep talk delivered to his sales team, excerpted from a profile of French that ran in the New Yorker on June 1, 1929.

Every morning, in a special auditorium in the French Building at 551 Fifth Avenue, the sales force of the Fred F. French Company gathers to listen to the words of the founder. The doors are locked by one of the vice presidents precisely at nine o'clock ‒ those who arrive late must wait outside: they press against the shut doors, straining to catch the words ‒ while Mr. French steps to the rostrum and talks. 

Usually his lectures have little to do with selling; they deal with the more intangible assets of success. Learn to smile, he says: "Stand before your bathroom mirror and practice smiling for ten minutes in the morning and at night. . . Get smiling into your system."

He is muscular, broad-shouldered, tall ‒ he stands six feet two inches ‒ and the young men, serious young men fresh from Harvard and Princeton seeking the key to attainment, decide to practice smiling. 

His voice can be soft and persuasive, and he knows how to make it thunder on occasion, and he knows the effect its thundering will have on the listener. "The best example for a sales talk is the life of Jesus Christ!" he proclaims. "He was the best salesman of all time. He said, 'Knock and it shall be opened unto you,' What he meant was, 'Keep knocking until the door is opened and if it isn't opened pretty soon, kick down the door." The other young men, locked outside the doors of the auditorium, listen gravely. . .

More about Fred French here

July 31, 2019

A Room with a View

We've come across some wonderful photos of the colony on Instagram, all  made from a window in the Beaux Arts apartment building on 44th Street.

They were taken by Lucas D in NYC, Instagrammer extraordinaire, and depict the many moods of Tudor City. Check out his terrific New York‒centric feed here.

More photos to come in future posts. . .

Climate change Tudor City.

July 28, 2019