August 31, 2018

The NEW YORKER Weighs In

Tudor City arrived in Manhattan around the same time as the New Yorker, an irreverent weekly launched in 1925 that famously advertised itself as "not edited for the old lady in Dubuque." It didn't take long for the magazine to cast its gimlet eye on the rising Tudor City, as seen in this Talk of the Town piece from August 20, 1927, entitled ELEGANT SLUMS.

"The fashionable East River continues to gain in favor, if our eyes serve us. The tiny centers of elegance, which used to be small community garden apartments above the roofs of tenements, are spreading and encroaching on the slums. East Forty-Second Street you will hardly recognize in its Fred F. Frenchiness, and the whole skyline northward along the river is changing.

Recently we walked pensively from Kips Bay to Hell Gate along the picturesque wooded shores of this popular and teeming stream. Aristocracy first begins where rise the lordly towers of Tudor City, flinging open their casements above the New York Veal & Mutton Company. Little old Prospect Place now gazes in surprise at lawns and privet hedges and the bungalows of the renting agents. Two units of the proposed community are already built, ready for occupancy in the fall, and the solid rock on the south side of Forty-Second Street is being chipped away for another skyscraper home. The spirit of the thing seems to have reached the merchants even this early, for we noticed one antique dealer had hung out a fresh sign: "Tudor Shoppe ‒ Interesting Things."

The magazine changed its tune once Tudor City was up and running. In January, 1928, The Sky Line column reported

"Vistas are all too rare in this rather rigid city of ours. Our streets and avenues stretch way into the distance with few accents to heighten their dramatic effect. The recent completion of the southern half of Fred F. French's Tudor City, at the east end of Forty-second Street, supplies an attractive emphasis to this thoroughfare. Seen against a bright morning sky, the picturesque terminals of the twin towers are distinctly agreeable."
In July, 1929, a Talk of the Town piece ran that lampooned the enclave's ubiquitous slogan, Live in Tudor City and Walk to Business
"After dining with a friend in Tudor City the other night, we emerged into the soft Fred F. French shade of Prospect Place. We started to walk away, for we are deeply sensible of Tudor traditions. At that hour we couldn't very well have Walked to Work, but we felt we ought to do the next best thing and Walk to Play. Quite to our astonishment, we were allowed to do no such thing. A doorman with a look of frenzy in his eye seized upon us and motioned us to stand perfectly still, not take one step; whereupon, having exacted our promise not to budge, he raced wildly up the little street, waving a flashlight. When he had attracted a cab, he bundled us into it and said, "Good night." Should we have tipped him, the disloyal rogue?"

More New Yorker reportage to come. . .

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