August 18, 2017

How Many Rooms Do You Really Need?

At last, the answer to a question often pondered in Tudor City.  Via a newspaper ad that ran on October 12, 1928.

August 16, 2017

The Tudor City GARAGE

Above, the facade of the garage, and at right, the passageway to it between The Cloister and The Manor. 

The Unique Garage, Tudor City's official garage, around the corner on 44th Street, was in place when the complex opened. The snippet below, from a 1930 brochure, explains it all.

The "short lighted passageway" was much ballyhooed, and indeed was an ingenious solution for providing garage service to the community without actual garage space within the enclave.

A 1962 view of the garage, at that point a Hertz Rent-a-Car outlet. 
The arched doorway in the lower left corner is the passageway to Tudor City. 
The garage is acquired by Hertz in 1959. For some reason, patronage from Tudor City dwindles after the acquisition, prompting Hertz to run the ad below. Its tone is typical of the smart-alecky advertising copy popular in the 1960s.


The garage was torn down in 1986 and replaced by 338 E. 44th Street, a mixed-use tower offering both commercial and residential space. Today, Tudor City's garage is in the basement of No. 2, and accessible to that building's residents by elevator.

August 14, 2017

CONFIDENTIAL: Peg Entwistle, the Hollywood Sign Girl

Returning to our Confidential series, we turn to resident Peg Entwistle, forever remembered as the "Hollywood Sign Girl." Hers is a sad story.
Born Millicent Lillian Entwistle, she's known
onstage as Peg, and to her friends as Babs.

Born in Wales in 1908, Peg comes to New York with her father in 1913. She dreams of being a stage actress, and makes her Broadway debut at the age of 17. She has talent, and is soon invited to join the prestigious Theatre Guild, touring the country doing repertory.

A young Bette Davis sees Peg perform in Boston in 1926, and later says "the reason I wanted to go into theater was because of an actress named Peg Entwistle. She looked just like me. A whole new world opened up to me."

Peg's personal life is not as charmed. She marries an alcoholic actor and discovers he has an ex-wife, a son, and overdue alimony and child support. He runs through her money. She divorces him.

In 1931, returning to New York after an extended stint on the road, Peg rents an apartment in Tudor City, which she shares with her best friend. Peg's name is on the lease.

Then Hollywood calls in the person of David O. Selznick, who offers her a term contract at RKO Studios. She much prefers the stage to the flickers, but the money is so tempting that she breaks an existing Broadway agreement ‒ burning some serious bridges ‒ and decamps to Hollywood. RKO eventually assigns her a small part in a forgettable picture, Thirteen Women. Shortly after the picture wraps, she's fired by RKO, part of company-wide cutbacks necessitated by the Depression.

Devastated, on September 16, 1932, Peg heads for the Hollywood Sign. At the time, it was the Hollywoodland Sign, erected to advertise a real estate development. The flimsy sign is constantly in need of repair, so workmen leave ladders in place behind each letter. Peg climbs up to the top of the 'H' and jumps off. She leaves a note behind:
I am afraid I'm a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.
Her body is discovered two days later in a ravine 100 feet below the sign. She is 24 years old.

Her suicide is a sensation in the press.

Back in Tudor City, Peg's roommate has fallen so far behind on the rent that she is evicted. James Zeruk, Peg's biographer, reports that "most of Peg's possessions, including her furniture, wardrobe and jewelry, were held against the back rent she owed to the Tudor City management ‒ she would never recover them."

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Over time, Peg becomes a cult figure, bubbling up into the culture every now and then ‒ as the subject of a British musical, inspiring songs from Steely Dan and Dory Previn, and most recently in Lana Del Rey's Lust for Life video, shot atop the Hollywood Sign.

August 10, 2017


There's nothing like stained glass on a summer day, so here are some cool windowpanes from No. 45, Prospect Tower.

Like all the leaded glass in the enclave, they were created by the company Richard N. Spiers & Son. While most of that firms's work in Tudor City features heraldic imagery or designs relating to neighborhood history, most of No. 45's glass celebrates Olde New York.

Above, two stock figures throughout Manhattan history, the sharpie and the rube. The images were painted on glass, then fused to the glass in a kiln. The sharpie and rube characters are repeated on different windows in No. 45 (below), with different results as each was hand-painted.

Above, two additional figures that are repeated on several windows: a drummer, and a cop with a nightstick (we think). The significance of this pairing is lost on us. 

Several windows in No. 45 are not figurative or heraldic, but rather purely abstract, above and below. We think they're among the most lovely in the complex.

August 8, 2017


Today, we return to an advertising campaign partially featured in an earlier post. Running April‒May, 1930, the campaign profiles some of Tudor City's earliest residents. Young, aspirational types, they were exactly who Fred French was hoping to attract.

Below, five different profiles with the same theme. We've summarized the copy for easier reading.
James Sparling, bond salesman for a "well-known Wall Street investment house." Single, salary $6,000 a year. His "great characteristic is his friendliness." Lives in a $100-per-month one-bedroom in No. 5. "Tudor City maid service looks after it for him. Tudor City valet service looks after his clothes. And Tudor City garage looks after his car."

Miss Lorie, a stylist for a leading fashion magazine. Lives alone in No. 5 in a $100-a-month one-bedroom. Often dines in one of the Tudor City restaurants and "orders what her fancy dictates." She plays golf on the 18-hole miniature golf course and "takes an occasional lesson at the golf school." Why she likes Tudor City: "Life couldn't be simpler anywhere else, so here I stay."

Herbert Grace, vice president of an engineering firm with offices in the Chrysler Building. Salary $12,000 a year. Married with a six-year-old daughter. Lives in a $191-per-month two-bedroom in Haddon Hall because he can "stay at the office as late as he likes and be home in five minutes." His daughter attends Miss Traver's local nursery school, leaving his wife "free to get out and look at the Fifth Avenue shops."

Marcia Havens, an advertising copywriter whose office is in the Chanin Building. Single, lives with a roommate in a one-bedroom Manor apartment, paying half of the $125-per-month rent. They alternate "doing the marketing by phone" at the Tudor City Grocery and have a maid who "comes in to clean and cook dinners." In the evenings, they stroll in the park, stop by the Circulating Library or get show tickets from the enclave's Theater Ticket Agency.

James Clare, employed by a downtown brokerage house. Single, earns $9,000 a year. Lives in a 21st-floor Prospect Tower one-bedroom at $127 a month. His "greatest interest apart from his work is the theater," which he attends once or twice a week. Appreciates the "conveniences which make life in Tudor City so pleasant for a bachelor."

August 6, 2017


Signs of life at last in Prospect Tower's longtime restaurant space. The sign says it all, Tudor City Steakhouse. We hear there's also sushi. Stay tuned.