June 3, 2020

ARTIFACT: 1859 Manhattan Land Atlas

Today we go back in time to 1859 for a look at a land atlas depicting the area around Prospect Hill, Tudor City's future site. Recorded by cartographer William Perris, our selections are taken from his book Maps of the City of New York. Like most city atlases from this era, it was made for fire insurance purposes.

Pink shading denotes brick structures, yellow for wooden ones.

Above, north of 42nd Street, the Second Avenue frontage is much more developed compared to First Avenue. The blank white quadrant (bottom right corner) was home to Prospect Hill's shantytown of squatters, whose makeshift huts weren't deemed worthy of the map.

Zooming in on the northern side of 43rd Street, site of a varnish factory, a store-house, and the stables of the Second Avenue Railroad Co.

On the south side of 43rd was a depot for the Second Avenue Railroad, a horse-powered railway that naturally enough had its own on-premise blacksmith shop. The railway was replaced by the Second Avenue El in 1880.

Looking south from 42nd Street, there's little development save for a group of rowhouses on either side of 41st Street. They would survive until 1925, when they were purchased and demolished by the French Company. The 3-H's and Essex House now stand in their place.

Zooming in, the only commerce recorded in the area was a slaughterhouse and the mysterious Lamphene along Second Avenue.

See the same area in 1920 here.

May 31, 2020

Views from the Bridge: TRICK PHOTO Edition

The best of Tudor City on Instagram continues with these tricky nighttime views of 42nd Street made from the Tudor City Bridge.
Instagrammed by crxss.shot

By kojimero17 & silas_raseri

By  david_imageny & _dirklange_

By pointofviewimage

May 27, 2020

ARTIFACT: 1945 Calendar

Artifact of the day is a 1945 photo calendar issued by the French Company to promote Tudor City, a followup to a successful edition published the previous year. 

At left, an ad for the calendar featuring a collage of its photographs. The ad copy promises that the calendar "will serve either as a handsome souvenir or as a holiday gift for those to whom you want to send something extra special."
A spiraled-bound product featuring the Tudor City Christmas tree on the cover, the calendar pictures all of the enclave's buildings inside.

Our favorite photo is naturally January's, which in closeup reveals the colony's two neon signs.


The calendar originally cost fifty cents; the other day, a 1944 edition sold on eBay for $67.

May 24, 2020


Gladys Parker drawing Mopsy.
In this installment of notable Tudor City residents, meet Gladys Parker, creator of the cartoon character Mopsy. One of the few female cartoonists of her era, Parker (1908-1966) was one of many illustrators who lived in Tudor City.

Mopsy ‒ a willowy fashion plate with countless beaux ‒ was based on Parker herself. "I got the idea for Mopsy," she later explained, "when the cartoonist Rube Goldberg said my hair looked like a mop." Like Parker, the character was a tousled working girl who was endearingly scatterbrained.

Mopsy debuted in 1937, with some of the earliest cartoons appearing in Tudor City View, no doubt to publicize the budding enterprise. The strip wound up running for 30 years, at its peak appearing in over 300 newspapers.

A single-panel feature, Mopsy ran daily with a multi-panel story on Sundays.

In the 1950s, Mopsy was popular enough to have her own comic book and paper dolls; by the 1960s, her skirts grew shorter and her morals looser, in keeping with the times. The strip ended with Gladys Parker's death in 1966.

Dopplegangers: Gladys Parker and Mopsy

May 20, 2020

Tudor City's Roof Restaurant, Revisited

Another look back at Tudor City's sole attempt at rooftop dining, the restaurant atop No. 25 that ran for two seasons in 1936-37. Above, a rare photo showing the restaurant in operation from a 1937 issue of Tudor City View. It illustrates a story in the magazine's Letters to the Editor column,  reprinted below. 

To the manager of the Tudor Tower Roof Garden: I feel obligated to express my appreciation of the pleasure I derived from dining on the roof last night. The food was good, the service pleasant, and the view simply marvelous. I was surprised at the small number of people taking advantage of this wonderful setting. Why? I am even surprised that it's possible to get a table without making reservations.

Having visited several of the other dining roofs in the city, I feel the Tudor Tower roof equals all and surpasses many. . .Very truly yours, Miss T. C. B.

[The editor responds]. Thank you for your letter. The night you visited the roof must have been a cool one, as people stay away when it's cool. And despite many notices placed around Tudor City, many tenants don't know that the roof is in operation. Last year, we had to add tables to accommodate guests. It may be that this delightful spot is not being properly publicized. Here are some questions that all can be answered in the affirmative.

Do you know that it is the highest open roof in New York? That it's open for dinner from 6:00 to 9:30, with no minimum or cover charge? That after dinner one may linger and partake of soothing drinks until midnight? That the roof is a wonderful place for a snack and a last look at the stars before retiring? That, in the event of inclement weather, there is a large studio room ‒ the South Studio ‒ where one may enjoy dinner and still have an excellent view?

If you have any more questions, Miss T. C. B., drop me a line.

Curious about the South Studio, this blog examined another photo of the rooftop, above, in a view looking north. 
Zooming in, we believe the South Studio space is the tented area at the top left corner. It doesn't look like much, but certainly fine enough for a snack and a last look at the stars before retiring.

Update: Reader Jeffrey Jones suggests another possible site for the South Studio space ‒ No. 25's south penthouse (assuming it was vacant at the time). This makes sense as the penthouses were then referred to as "studios." Below, a close-up of the windowed space at center.
Apparently business never picked up, and the rooftop closed for good at the end of the 1937 season. More about the restaurant here.

May 17, 2020

It's a Dog's World

Dogs everywhere are having a moment during the Great Quarantine, especially on Instagram. Today, some comfort photos of the dogs of Tudor City, Instagrammed by king_indigo_princess_marigold, sesamenyc, helium_russell, lionchohmelian, scooby_nyc and maxinmanhattan.

Dogs have gotten a mixed reception in Tudor City over the years ‒ except for Scotch the Wonder Dog, admired by all.

May 15, 2020


If the pandemic is not bad enough, Tudor City's graffiti epidemic, reported earlier, continues to spread. The latest sightings, below:

Eastern wall, No. 45.
42nd Street north stairwell.
Tudor City Bridge.

Thank you David Reiff and Garth Justice for the intel and photos.