A look at the site of the United Nations over the years, as seen on historic maps. When Tudor City was constructed, the land was a gritty slaughterhouse district, and thus the complex was designed to turn its back on the East River and face west.
We've tipped in a few street names for easier orientation, but the maps all show the same view, the blocks between 42nd and 44th Streets around First Avenue. Click on maps to enlarge.
This post‒Civil War map shows the beginnings of industry along the East River. Among these enterprises were a brewery, a pencil factory, and the N. Y. Melting Association (specializing in the rendering of animal fats, a portent of the future).
Between 43rd and 44th Streets lies Turtle Bay Park, a block-wide beer garden on the current site of The Manor. Opened around 1851, it was operated by the Turtle Bay Brewery across the street, the progenitor of the future Jacob Ruppert beer dynasty. The park was replaced by rowhouses around 1870, when the whole area enjoyed a building boom.
Eighteen years later, Turtle Bay Park has been replaced by rowhouses, around the same time that Prospect Place was cut out of the street grid [lower left quadrant].
Along the waterfront, slaughterhouses, rendering works, lumber yards, coal yards, and tallow shops have sprung up as part of the burgeoning meatpacking industry.
What was now officially called the Abattoir Center was in full swing by 1899, anchored by two meatpacking titans, Schwarzschild & Sulzberger and United Dressed Beef, and their ancillary cattle and sheep pens, slaughterhouses, fat melting rooms, refrigeration houses, hide removal rooms, and wool-pulling sections.
The block south of 43rd Street [lower right quadrant] housed only a handful of abattoirs, mostly given over to a stone yard, a wagon yard, and gas-pipe storage.
By 1927, the year that Tudor City debuted, the Abattoir Center was still very much in business. The block below 43rd Street was then home to N.Y. Edison, a steam plant.
The Abattoir Center was demolished in 1948, and replaced with the campus of the newly formed United Nations.
This post was inspired by a reader tip about a wonderful Tudor City map archive on the web ‒ see it here. More about the Abattoir Center here.
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