November 4, 2020


This edition of Tudor City in Literature examines Love Preferred, a 193os romance novel. Its author, Edna Robb Webster, was a specialist in tales of 'modern youth,' and the author of seventeen novels, among them Dad's Girl, Five O'Clock Girl, Lipstick Girl, and Occasional Wife.

Love Preferred, subtitled "The Romance of a Business Girl," first ran as a newspaper serial, then was published in book form by Grosset & Dunlap in 1932. The novel tells the story of a man loved by two sisters: the "beautiful, self-sacrificing" business girl, Mary Vaughn, and her "selfish but dazzling" sibling, Bonnie.

Tudor City appears midway in the book, in a conversation between Mary and her boss, Ronald Foster; he's sweet on her, but she feels "no trembling delight in his presence." Mary has been staying with friends, and has just announced her intention to get her own Manhattan apartment.

[The idea of moving to the enclave never materializes, and Mr. Foster's romantic impulses are similarly squashed.]

We're rather surprised to learn that Tudor City apartments were financially out of reach for most workers, "even those with a good salary." But then again, the colony did enjoy a swank reputation in its early years.

November 1, 2020

That Noir Feeling

Some moody, noirish views of the colony found on Instagram. 

Rain on the bridge, by street.classics.

On a balcony of No. 2, by walkingwithlucy.

Tudor City Place by night, by _sweetlow_.

Flyover, by jakeblucker.

Snow on the bridge, by nycprimeshot.

More Tudor City Noir here.

October 28, 2020


A return to the Inquiring Fotographer, the Daily News' long-running question/answer/foto column that's a favorite of this blog. Today's entry is of interest as the place where the question was posed was the Hotel Tudor lobby. 

The column ran on September 26, 1938, toward the end of baseball season. Hank Greenberg, the Detroit Tigers first baseman, had knocked out 56 home runs to date and was poised to challenge Babe Ruth's record. Over to you, Jimmy Jemail:

[Hank Greenberg ended the 1938 season with 58 home runs. The Bambino's record was finally broken in 1961 by Roger Maris.]

October 25, 2020

CONFIDENTIAL: Isobel Steele, Girl 'Spy'


HOME FROM NAZI DEATH THREAT ‒ Isobel Lillian Steele, American violinist, yesterday told the true story of her four months in German prison as a suspected spy. It is a story of intrigue, hate and suspicion. She's shown in the Hotel Tudor reading telegrams that greeted her arrival.

This installment of our Confidential series spotlights Isobel Steele, a 23-year-old American who had gone to Berlin in 1933 to study the violin. At the time, the country was in chaos; the new Nazi regime had already muzzled the press, rescinded most civil liberties, and decreed that police could detain enemies of the state indefinitely without formal charges.

Young and rather naïve, Steele socialized with a louche crowd of minor aristocrats, centered around the dashing Baron George Sosnowski, a Polish spy (who used the "arts of Casanova to obtain military secrets from impoverished noblewomen," according to the News). Steele too was infatuated with him.

The Baron was soon arrested by the Gestapo, and Steele wrote an on-spec screenplay about him, which came to the attention of the police. She was jailed on August 10, 1934 on suspicion of espionage ‒ guilty by association ‒ and eventually transferred to Berlin's dreaded Moabit Prison.

There she languished for four months, until her plight began to generate headlines in the United States. After the intervention of the American Consulate, she was finally deported in December, 1934. When her boat docked in New York harbor, she was besieged by a crowd of reporters, but quickly ushered away without comment by a representative of the Daily News. To whom she had sold her exclusive story.

Quarters were booked for her in the Hotel Tudor, no doubt for its convenience for the reporters and photographers working in the Daily News Building. The photographs above, made in her hotel room, accompanied her exclusive story.

For the next few years, Steele kept the story alive with magazine articles and a memoir. In 1936, the inevitable exploitation movie was released, above. The Times review dismissed it as a "crudely produced and performed" feature that was "less an exposé of Nazi persecution than a mirror for Miss Steele's rather amazing unsophistication."

October 21, 2020

ARTIFACT: 1947 Picture Postcard


Today's artifact is a postcard picturing the South Park, The Cloister and The Manor, postmarked November 6, 1947.

Detail of the postcard, showing the popularity of the gazebo

On the reverse, the message reads
Dear Emmie, I hope your Thanksgiving is a nice one. I thought you'd enjoy seeing part of the development in which I live. Love, Mary

Addendum at top reads  
This is the adult park in the development. The bldgs in the background are part of the same. [For many years, the South Park was reserved for grown-ups, with children permitted only in the North Park.]

Adding some local cred to the item, the postcard is stamped on the reverse with the name of its publisher: The Windsor Bookshop. Set in No. 5 in the 41st Street cul-de-sac, the shop also sold cards and gifts. 

October 18, 2020

Tudor City and the TV Transmitter

Photo of the day is this striking rendition of the Daily News Building, bathed in klieg lights, topped by a 307-foot-tall transmitter and all the more thrilling given the cameo appearance of the Tudor City Sign, center left.

The date was June 15, 1948; the occasion, a party for the debut of WPIX, the new television station owned by the Daily News, whose call letters were derived from the paper's slogan, "New York's Picture Newspaper."  

There were four hours of programming that first night, including Inquiring Fotographer Jimmy Jemail interviewing VIPs at the door, columnist Ed Sullivan in a remote hookup from the Latin Quarter nightclub, and the first episode of "The Gloria Swanson Hour," a talk show.

The new station was relentlessly promoted in the News, in particular a never-ending slogan contest (at left). For the record, the winning entry was "THE FIRST WORD IN NEWS, THE LAST IN ENTERTAINMENT."

The antenna proved to be a short-lived structure, moved in 1951 to the Empire State Building because it was, well, higher. WPIX still broadcasts from the News Building, now as the East Coast flagship of the CW network.

    No. 45, The Woodstock, the Empire State Building, and the News Building and its antenna, as seen from the East River, circa 1950.

October 14, 2020

Yoga, Anyone?

A yoga interlude today, courtesy of some nimble Instagrammers.  

The Vrikshasana pose on the roof of The Manor, by themanornyc.

Trikonsana atop No. 45, by switchgrassfarmer.

Vrikshasana in the North Park, by tudorcityyoga.

Natarajasana and the Downward-facing Dog atop The Manor, by tudorcityyoga.

Instagrammer tudorcityyoga ‒ aka Stephanie DeYoung ‒ has been offering classes around the enclave, including the roof of The Manor, for several years. For the moment, classes are being held on Zoom, details here