February 16, 2018

STRANGE BUT TRUE : The Gal, The Gob, The Diamond Ring, and The Carrier Pigeon

Today's Strange But True entry recounts the believe-it-or-not story of Pete the carrier pigeon who flies a diamond ring cross country to a lucky lady in Tudor City.

Here's the story, verbatim, as reported by INS (International News Service, a competitor of AP and UPI). It runs in syndication across the country.

New York, Jan. 22, 1939 ‒ (INS)

  Attention ‒ Miss Emily Calloway!

  Pete the Pigeon came through. He brought you a note and a diamond ring from Larry, and police of the West 47th St. station are keeping them for you.

  Pete was eating corn with other pigeons in a leisurely manner in front of the Public Library on Fifth Avenue Sunday afternoon when Howard Lax noticed him. There was a carrier capsule on Pete's leg, and a diamond ring attached by a piece of wire.

  Lax took the bird to the police station. Police opened the capsule. 

  First of all, it was addressed to Miss Calloway at Windsor Tower, Tudor City, Manhattan, and was from Larry Nicehazo, US Navy, Setkan, Alaska.

  The message, dated December 2, read:

  "This comes to you with all my love. Wear it until I get back in August, and we can make it official. 'Pete' is bringing it to you. He arrived in San Diego as we were leaving, and this is the first chance I've had to acknowledge his receipt. Love, Larry."

  Police learned that Miss Calloway had moved. They found her roommate, Miss Elbrun Bomboy, who was to explain the situation to Miss Calloway when she returned from a cocktail party.

  Miss Calloway is 22, a salesgirl, and comes from Illinois. She occasionally mentions her sailor friend, who was here last summer.

  Pete is now at the ASPCA shelter, waiting a claimant. His registration number is TFC 142 AU 1935.

The trail goes cold here ‒ although things don't sound too swell for lovelorn Larry, whose would-be fiancĂ©e 1) speaks of him only "occasionally" 2) has changed her address without telling him and 3) can't be reached because she's out at a cocktail party. Pete's prospects are similarly dismal. 'Rescue pigeons', then and now, are an oxymoron.

At least the papers had some fun with it.

February 14, 2018

PROGRESS REPORT: 685 First Avenue

Today, photographic evidence of the progress of 685 First Avenue, our new neighbor rising opposite No.5. (See our earlier posts on Richard Meier's first all-black tower here and here).
685 First Avenue at left, No. 5 at right. We believe that the unfinished horizontal stripe in the center of Meier's tower will be part of the final design.

The tower as it appears from atop The Woodstock.

February 12, 2018

Special CARTOON Edition

The Perks of Tudor City, rendered cartoon-style, from a 1930 ad campaign:

In the beginning, Tudor City is targeted to a young, up-and-coming demographic, as pictured above ‒ a comely, cloche-hat-wearing crowd that likes miniature golf, maid and valet service, and is especially fond of dining out and being waited on. 

February 10, 2018


Fresno Bee headline, March 8, 1936
Labor strikes are a common occurrence in Depression-era America, and Tudor City finds itself caught up in a citywide strike in 1936.

The Building Service Employees Union ‒ a group of apartment-house elevator operators, porters, chambermaids, doormen, furnace men, and the like ‒ calls the strike. Its primary demands are an $8-a-month wage increase, and a 48-hour work week (currently 54 hours).

The strike begins on March 1, 1936 on the Upper West Side, and day by day rolls across Manhattan. No elevator service is the chief concern, and the Board of Health worries about the aged and infirm "marooned in their apartments" ‒ not to mention an accumulating garbage problem. Other issues include no heat and no telephone connection to house switchboards.

The number of elevator operators seems exaggerated.
Tudor City at the time has about 50 elevators.
On March 7, the strike reaches Tudor City. Picket lines go up, and cops are stationed at each building entrance to maintain order. (There have been several violent outbursts during the strike, including a testy, 5,000-strikers-strong march down Park Avenue where windows are smashed and stink bombs detonated). 

By now, the strike is nearly a week old, so the French Company has had time to prepare, hiring a skeleton crew of non-union elevator operators. The scabs are jeered as they cross the picket lines. By contrast, there's "cheering when someone announces he is about to climb to an upper-story apartment." On the second day of the walkout, the New York Times reports that life in Tudor City is "relatively peaceful, apart from some noise made by sympathizers with the strikers."

The strike ends a week later on March 14, when the union signs a three-year contract calling for immediate arbitration of minimum wages and maximum hours.

February 8, 2018


Northern view from a Woodstock terrace. . .

. . . guarded by a terra cotta unicorn, heraldic symbol of courage and strength.

February 6, 2018

RESIDENTS: Alice Brady

Continuing our profiles of accomplished area residents, today we turn to Alice Brady, celebrated stage actress, Academy Award‒winning movie star, and Tudor City lease-breaker. Here's her life, in bullet points:

✫ Born in 1892, daughter of theatrical producer William A. Brady and Parisian dancer Rose Rene.

✫ Makes Broadway debut in 1911 in the chorus of The Mikado, the start of an acclaimed stage career. Appears in everything from light comedies to the original production of Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra.

✫ Augmenting her nighttime stage work, Brady acts in silent movies during the day. At the time, New York City is the center of the film industry, and she's soon considered one of its top draws, going on to make 53 silent flickers.

✫ Transitions easily to talking pictures in 1933, with starring roles in 'B' movies and supporting parts in such 'A' titles as The Gay Divorcee, The Gold Diggers of 1935, My Man Godfrey, One Hundred Men and a Girl, and Young Mr. Lincoln.

✫ Wins a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1938 for her portrayal of Mrs. O'Leary (owner of the cow that started the great Chicago fire) in the film In Old Chicago. 

Brady playing a ditsy society matron ‒ one of her specialties ‒ in My Man Godfrey, 1936.

In 1932, she takes a four-year lease on a Windsor Tower penthouse for $22,000 ‒ or $458 per month, a not unsubstantial sum during the Depression. She remodels the place and installs a French bistro‒esque living room, complete with a piano and a chic zinc-and-mahogany bar.

Soon thereafter, she has some financial setbacks. In 1935, a tax warrant is filed against her for nonpayment of $1,550 in income taxes. (She defends a $750 deduction for massages on the grounds that "beautification is a legitimate business expense" for an actress, "just like a depreciation allowance for industry"). The following year, she's living full time in Hollywood and is sued for $8,600 by Windsor Tower for breach of her four-year lease.

The outcome of this suit is unknown. Brady's health swiftly declines, and she dies of cancer, aged 46, in 1939.

Her name above the title in a forgotten comedy from 1936.