February 16, 2020

That White Packard, Explained

The Packard in front of the flagship Madison Avenue store.
Several months ago, a reader spotted a vintage white Packard in the enclave and wondered what it was doing there. Today, the mystery unraveled.

The car was part of a promotion by Paul Stuart, the fancy clothier on Madison and 45th. To celebrate the relaunch of its e-commerce site, the shop was offering free delivery ‒ via a white 1938 Packard ‒ to anyone in Manhattan spending $1,000 or more online. (The car's 1938 vintage was a nod to the store's founding in 1938.)

The Packard was photographed in Tudor City as part of the promotion. 

In front of No. 2, with merchandise spilling out the door.

Above and below, a delivery at The Manor.

Another vintage car sighting here.

February 12, 2020

MARRIAGE Tudor City Style

A post about married life in Tudor City ‒ or at least married life in Tudor City as imagined by advertising copywriters of yore.

No surprise, Tudor City is ideal for the courtship stage preceding marriage. At left, a 1931 art deco ad accompanied by a poem conjuring up a dreamy enclave of "river breezes," "violet hazes" and "distant murmurs of the metropolis," made for marriage proposals. 

The poem, in full:

Over in the West gleaming lights
Stretch skyward tier on tier.
A violet haze softens the outlines of miraculous buildings.
At your feet lies a park-like lawn bordered with glorious flowers.
A river breeze stirs your curtains with its cooling breath.
And the distant murmur of the metropolis fades away ‒
As Evening comes to Tudor City.

Budget-friendly rents and relief from "hit-and-run housekeeping" keep marriages on track, in the above ads from 1940.

A pair of 1939 ads promising "married life free from needless housekeeping worries" plus "real country atmosphere" and "two extra hours a day of leisure."

Below, the concept that Tudor City can save marriages by making one's husband feel "more like a man ‒ and less like a mashed potato." This 1929 gem ran in, where else, the New Yorker.

February 9, 2020


The Wayback Machine revisits Paddy Corcoran, Civil War‒era gang leader and the cause of much mayhem on Dutch Hill, today home to Tudor City. Herewith, a lightly edited transcript of Corcoran's New York Times obituary, which surprises given its benevolent tone. It ran on November 18, 1900.

James J. Corcoran, an octogenarian truckman, who from 1850 to 1880 was regarded as the champion of the Irish immigrant class. . . lay dead yesterday at 317 E. 40th Street, shrived and regretted. He was known to his legion of acquaintances as 'Jimmy' Corcoran of Corcoran's Roost.
Born in Ireland in 1819, he came to America when 25 years old. . . Just before the war, he started in as a truckman in this city. At that time green Irishmen had to be circumspect. They were ill-viewed in certain quarters and were compelled to be clannish. 
Corcoran found a colony of squatters on Dutch Hill, an earth mound south of the rocks at 40th Street and what is now First Avenue. He built him a shanty. . . and from small beginnings came to be a boss truckman. 
Part of Dutch Hill was known as Clara Hill. . . and on the two hills were about 90 families. Corcoran was tacitly accepted as the head of the colony. Donnybrook Fair encounters between factions were common, and the police made affairs interesting. . . Now and then an arrest was made, and Corcoran appeared to bail out the prisoner. He had a caustic tongue and ready wit, and always had his say at the station house. 
Corcoran abandoned squatting 18 years ago, when he moved from his shanty to where he died. His end was hastened by grief over the death of his wife, the mother of his ten children, last August. . . He leaves an estate of about $25,000, including several road horses.

The obit sidesteps Corcoran's notorious past, save for the "Donnybrook Fair encounters" reference, longhand for "brawls." Since Corcoran had been out of the game for nearly 20 years, we suspect he became respectable by outliving his past.

More about Paddy here and here

February 5, 2020

The Instagrammable UNITED NATIONS

The reflection of Tudor City and midtown Manhattan on the Secretariat Building's glass wall is a very popular Instagram subject. Some choice examples, below.

Instagrammed by veeway                                themanornyc

photovillagenyc                                   manhattanjej

jazzy_belle                                           jnettelfield

February 2, 2020

Ad Campaign, 1931

Herewith, selections from an ad campaign headlined TUDOR CITY'S RENTS ARE MODEST, which ran in October, 1931. The Depression was ever worsening, and thus the copy pitched the value-for-your-money angle via the many perks the community offered. [The lowest price rental at the time was $60 for a one-room apartment; by 1933, the same unit would be discounted to $50 per month.]

Below, we've zoomed in on some of the more pertinent reasons 
for living in the colony ‒ private parks, quiet bedrooms and kindly clocks, among them.

January 28, 2020


The Tudor City Sign, January 27, 2020.
Regular readers are well aware of this blog's obsession with the renovation of the Tudor City Sign, so it's a thrill to report that the netting and scaffolding were removed Monday, and the sign can now be seen in all its refurbished glory.

In place since Tudor City opened in 1927, this historic sign ‒ said to be the only extant sign in Manhattan advertising an apartment complex ‒ has had many alterations over the years. Originally lit with incandescent bulbs, it was converted to neon in 1939, then completely rebuilt after toppling over during a storm in 1949. Around 1990, it went dark, and has been in a state of advanced decrepitude ever since. This latest renovation, eight months in the making, was begun in May, 2019.

A then-and-now comparison, below.

The renovation included refabricating the deteriorated steel inlays of the letters, which were painted metallic gold, mimicking an earlier color scheme. The framework was structurally sound, and repainted black. 

At present, there are no plans to illuminate it, though our dream is to see it softly floodlit at night, like the Silvercup Studios sign in Long Island City. But for now, it's great to see this neglected landmark back in the game and looking so snazzy.

A more detailed history of the sign here

Thank you to Anne Stoddard for the progress reports.

January 26, 2020

Confidential: PULP FICTION Edition

Today, a look at the Murder of the Clergyman's Mistress, a 1931 detective novel wherein Tudor City makes a cameo appearance.

The book opens with the discovery of two dead bodies ‒ 
a clergyman and his mistress ‒ in a dinghy in the East River. [The novel is loosely based on the sensational Hall-Mills murders of 1922, whose principals were known in the tabloids as "the Minister and the Choir Singer."] Enter Thatcher Colt, who is the New York City Police Commissioner and, not incidentally, an excellent amateur sleuth. 

Tudor City is introduced early on when the bodies are found:

Later, Thatcher Colt sniffs around Tudor City for clues: 
The "real estate troubadours singing their most plaintive ballads" is a snarky reference to Tudor City's ubiquitous advertising campaigns at the time.

In the end, Thatcher Colt solves the mystery. The clergyman killed his mistress ‒ and then his other mistress killed the clergyman.