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New York City Above Forty Second Street - Part 1
( Originally Published 1936 )
The main north and south artery of New York from 8th Street to 59th Street is Fifth Avenue. Everything is reckoned as east or west of Fifth Avenue.
Starting north from 42d Street to visit the main points of interest to strangers, you would almost certainly use Fifth Avenue. East of it is Madison, running due north to 137th Street, the lower reaches of it, from 42d Street north, lined with fine hotels, shops, office buildings. East of Madison Avenue is Park Avenue, the thoroughfare of super-luxurious hotels, apartment houses, and small specialty shops. East of Park Avenue is Lexington Avenue, with many big hotels and small, less-expensive shops. East of Lexington Avenue you are little likely to go except to see some of the ultra-smart residential developments at certain points along East River between 42d and 86th Streets.
West of Fifth Avenue the north-and-south avenues are Sixth Avenue, which is of small concern to visitors except as it passes Radio City Music Hall at 50th Street; and Seventh Avenue, which has many big hotels and is an important artery of the theater district. Then Broadway, which crosses Fifth Avenue at 23d Street, Sixth Avenue at 34th Street, Seventh Avenue at 42d Street. Beyond Seventh Avenue, or Broadway, there is not much to concern the visitor except the many theaters between Broadway and Eighth Avenue from 42d Street to 50th; and the steamship docks along the river north of 42d Street and south of 60th Street.
Broadway from 42d Street to about 52d is `the Great White Way,' the greatest amusement area in the world. The time to see it, for its lights and its crowds, is at night, between 8 and 12. As the time to see Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, and Park Avenue is in the daytime.
Starting up Fifth Avenue from 42d Street, the first interest of the sight-seer will probably be looking westward from the Avenue along 43d, 44th, and 45th Streets, whereon, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, lie many noted clubs: the Harvard, the Lambs', the New York Yacht, the City Club, the Town Hall Club, the Bar Association, and others. Much that is interesting in New York life for a considerable part of her population has to do with that group of clubs and with others of like sort which are not very far away.
At the northeast corner of 47th Street is the old-fashioned residence which was once that of Jay Gould and then the home of his daughter, the late Mrs. Finley J. Shepard. It is almost the last of the famous millionaires' homes which used to line Fifth Avenue south of Central Park. Another is the home of Robert W. Goelet, at the southeast corner of 48th Street. On the northwest corner of 48th Street and the Avenue is the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, tracing its ancestry to `the church in the fort' of early New Amsterdam. Theodore Roosevelt was a member of this church.
Mrs. Russell Sage, whose immense benefactions are too little remembered, it seems to me, lived at 604 Fifth Avenue, adjoining the Collegiate Church on the north. She gave away, during her lifetime and by bequest, more than $75,000,000. Mr. Sage was an associate of Jay Gould's in the development and sale of railways, and was a money-lender on a large scale. The dispersal of his wealth he left to Mrs. Sage.
Now you come to Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Thomas's Church, and other buildings which make this area of some four blocks the `hub' of New York.
In 1801, the twelve acres of land which now comprise Rockefeller Center, were purchased from the city for $4807.36 by Dr. Hosack, professor of Botany and Materia Medica at Columbia University, who established there a botanical gardeD, the first in the United States. In 1814 this land became the property of Columbia, whose trustees rented it, in 1823, for $125 a year and taxes. Today the university has from it an annual rental of $3,000,000.
As the nineteenth century wore on toward its middle years, the trustees hoped that the university, then located at Barclay Street, well south of where City Hall Park is today, would be permanently situated on this property. And there is a tradition that St. Patrick's Cathedral was located where it is in anticipation that it would always face the quiet garden of the university.
But by 1851 the tract had been divided into city lots. And by the time the Civil War was over there were a few homes built in this semi-suburban section. No. 4 West 54th Street was one of these. Built by C. P. Huntington, the California railway magnate, it was bought in 1884 by John D. Rockefeller whose city home it remained until his death. His son lived at No. 10 in the same street. Both houses have been recently demolished.
When the senior Rockefeller took up his residence in 54th Street, the Standard Oil Company was fourteen years old; and young John D. was ten. St. Luke's Hospital was at Fifth Avenue and 54th Street. And Columbia University, with a staff of eleven professors in the Liberal Arts College, and a grammar school attached, was at Madison Avenue and 49th Street. On Fifth Avenue between 51st and 52d Streets there was a Catholic Orphan Asylum, surrounded by lawns and trees. Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., creator of Rockefeller Center and benefactor of half the world, has seen tremendous changes in this neighborhood since he came to it, a boy of ten. And not to be a little bit conscious of this is, I think, to miss much more than a little bit in our impressions of Rockefeller Center, which, along with St. Thomas's Gothic Church, occupies the `back lots' where little Johnny Rockefeller played his boyhood games.
St. Patrick's Cathedral was begun in 1858 and dedicated in 1879. Its architect was James Renwick — which was a strange name to be associated with St. Patrick's, for an earlier James Renwick was the last of the Covenanting martyrs — and al-though some critics find flaws in its rendering of Gothic and most people agree that it is less perfect architecturally than St. Thomas's, over the way, I think there can be no one who does not feel that it is a noble structure and one whose beauty adds immeasurably to this vicinity. Nor is it, I think, dwarfed by the colossal structures facing it. I think it holds its own with fine dignity.
Certainly it functions almost ceaselessly. Almost any time one passes it, except in the dead o' night, he is conscious of it as a temple of a living faith which is sought, in prayer, by multitudes of people in every walk of life.
To the south of it, across East 50th Street, is Saks' big store for luxury apparel. North of it, across East 51st Street, used to be the fashionable Union Club (now at Park Avenue and 61st Street), whose founders were from the most distinguished families of early New York. Opposite are the imposing edifices of Rockefeller Center, culminating in the R.C.A. Building which rises to a height of 70 stories.
Rockefeller Center covers 2M full-size city blocks on Fifth Avenue, between 48th Street and 51st Street, and back, a very long `east-and-west block' to Sixth Avenue. The northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 48th Street it cannot lease, because the Church of St. Nicholas holds it in perpetuity.
Originally, the plan was to build a superb new Opera House there, and surround it with smart restaurants, shops, etc. But after Mr. Rockefeller had leased the `Hosack farm' from Columbia for $3,000,000 a year rental, the Metropolitan Opera Corporation decided that its resources did not warrant such an expensive move. So it stayed on in its dingy building of glorious memories, on Broadway between 39th and 40th Streets, where it has been since 1883. And Mr. Rockefeller had to find something else to do with his lease. So he engaged John R. Todd, whose firm had erected many of the city's great buildings, to submit a plan. Mr. Todd is an engineer — but he is much more: he has brilliant ideas not only for construction, but for making construction pay. To him are attributed many of the features which make Rockefeller Center so very much more than a marvel of steel and masonry and architectural effect; which keep it `in the news' and in the forefront of consciousness not of New York's millions alone, but of the nation's and the world's.
Rockefeller Center is undoubtedly the first objective in New York of a vast majority of visitors. And it is a daily, or at least a frequent, objective of tens of thousands who are resident in New York.
Besides the $3,000,000 ground rent there are $2,000,000 to pay annually in taxes, $1,500,000 for operating costs, and interest on the money borrowed to put up the buildings, estimated to cost $65,000,000.
Rentals have been extraordinarily good, considering the `depressed' times in which they have had to be made. But if any Rockefeller draws from Rockefeller Center money for world-wide benefactions, it will probably be one of a succeeding generation. In 2015 all the buildings are to become the property of Columbia, without cost.
Tours, with a guide, leave every half-hour between 10 A.M. and 6 P.M. and every hour from 6 to 9 P.M., and cost $1. They are interesting but rather fatiguing. Tours of the National Broadcasting Studios start every 10 minutes, last about an hour, and cost 55 cents. There is also a Television Tour, at the same price.
You will almost certainly visit Radio City Music Hall to see a performance. It seats 6200 and is the world's largest theater. It is at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 50th Street. There, in an auditorium of breath-taking grandeur, you hear a superb orchestra and good vocalists, see magnificent stage spectacles and superlative dancing, enjoy first-class vaudeville and the best motion pictures. The complete show takes at least two hours, and is repeated four or five times a day.
And you will not improbably attend some performance at the Center Theater, another unit of the project, at the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 49th Street, where you may hear a popular-price opera company sing standard grand operas, or hear a popular light opera like `The Great Waltz.' But this big theater is often `dark'; and there are frequent rumors that it may be torn down.
You will almost certainly, unless you are on a very slim bud-get, eat one meal in the world-famous Rainbow Room on the sixty-fifth floor. Lunches there are no more expensive than in any other first-rate restaurant. Dinners and after-theater suppers, when the floor show is on (and it's always a very good one!), come rather high — but well worth it if you've got the money.
But if it's `view' you're after, I think there's nothing finer than the cocktail lounge, adjoining the Rainbow Room, at the hour for tea or cocktail. The south-looking sweep of vision is at its loveliest as the lights come on in the great cliff-buildings around 42d Street, and beyond.
Likewise, you may be asked to tea on some of the lofty garden terraces, like that of the British Empire Building, in the quarters of the English-Speaking Union.
So, if pressed for time or disinclined for considerable walking, you may omit the tour of the whole `Center,' and take only that of the broadcasting studios.
There are very many restaurants in various buildings of the Center. There are many beautiful travel offices (it is the travel headquarters of the world) and many interesting shops.
The New York Museum of Science and Industry has its quarters in the Forum of the R.C.A. building. On the plan of the famous Deutsches Museum in Munich and the Rosenwald Museum in Chicago, it is a place for a good half-day, and not for a `glimpse.' Henry Robinson Towne left two and a half million dollars toward a museum where people might learn the workings of science and industry, and what was accomplished with that beginning led other moneyed men to supplement the original gift, and the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations to give it their support.
You may think that you are only vaguely interested in science and industry. There are people with ideas like that! But don't be sure of it until you have at least `exposed yourself' to the fascinations of this museum. I can't begin to enumerate its exhibits, here; but they certainly include something for every taste.
Perhaps there'll be ice-skating in the sunken plaza in front of the RCA Building when you see it. Perhaps it will be filled with gay umbrellas sheltering groups who are lunching in that incomparable setting.
New York City Above Forty Second Street - Part 2
( Originally Published 1936 )
Now let us continue on our way, up Fifth Avenue.
At the northwest corner of 51st Street is the only Vanderbilt residence left on Fifth Avenue, now occupied by Brigadier-General Cornelius Vanderbilt. Its twin structure at 52d Street is gone; likewise the `French Chateau' of W. K. Vanderbilt on the northwest corner of 52d Street, and the house of W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., next to it on the north.
St. Thomas's Church at 53d Street was begun in 1911 to replace the older structure burned in 1905. It is the work of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, and considered one of the most beautiful adaptations of French Gothic ever achieved in America. The interior is well worth a visit. There are fine windows, and the reredos is probably the best in America. Many fashion-able weddings occuT there.
The next northwest corner (54th Street) is occupied by the University Club, designed by McKim, Mead and White; this is another architectural gem, with a notably magnificent library.
At 55th Street there is the St. Regis Hotel on the southeast corner, the Gotham Hotel on the southwest, and the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church on the northwest corner.
At 59th Street Central Park begins. In the center of the spacious Plaza south of 59th Street is a fountain erected to the memory of Joseph Pulitzer, famous proprietor of the New York World, whose name is best-known now through the Pulitzer Prizes.
The huge hotel west of the Plaza is the Plaza Hotel; on the Plaza's east side are the Savoy-Plaza Hotel and Hotel Sherry-Netherland.
West 59th Street, which is Central Park South, has many hotels, all enjoying a superb view north over the Park.
Central Park extends from 59th Street to 110th Street, between Fifth and Eighth Avenues. It is two and a half miles long and a half mile wide, has nine miles of driveways, six miles of bridle paths and thirty miles of walks. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is in the Park, at 82d Street on the Fifth Avenue side. The Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium are opposite the Park on the other side (Eighth Avenue is called Central Park West, north of 59th Street) at 77th Street.
Central Park is said to have cost the city $415,000,000, back in the decade before the Civil War, when 42d Street was `away uptown' and 59th Street was the fringe of nowhere. What real estate value it now represents I have no idea; but it is evidence of astounding foresight that a metropolis as small as New York then was should have bought nearly 850 acres for a park and laid out upon it such a stupendous sum. All classes of citizens love and appreciate Central Park — and use it! No government has ever been corrupt enough to wheedle away a foot of this prized area.
Many of its statues are atrocious; but at the 59th Street entrance, opposite the Plaza, is Saint-Gaudens' Sherman which some people consider the finest monument in New York. The landscaping in Central Park is charmingly natural and full of variety. The zoo at 64th Street is notable, with fine new buildings. Cleopatra's Needle, companion to the one on Victoria Embankment, London, stands south of the Metropolitan Museum. They were originally erected at Heliopolis, about 1500 B.C. Augustus had them moved to Alexandria, whence they were removed, one to London and one to New York, about 1878.
But the great attraction of Central Park is the variety of people who frequent it. And to enjoy them you must saunter and sit, and be leisurely about it. Fine free concerts in summer, on the Mall; and free dancing.
At 814 Fifth Avenue,- between 62d and 63d Streets, is the Jules S. Bache home housing his superb collection of Italian masterpieces, now open to the public. It is not a large collection, but everything in it is one of the finest examples of the master who produced it. Especially rich is this collection in Italian painting of the greatest schools.
Temple Emanu-el, on Fifth Avenue at 65th Street, is one of the largest and most beautiful synagogues in the world; early Romanesque architecture; very fine mosaics.
Five blocks north, at 70th Street, is the mansion of the late Henry C. Frick, one of Andrew Carnegie's partners in the steel business, bequeathed with all its treasures to the city for a museum. Mr. Frick favored no one period or nation; he collected the best, from early Italian primitives, to Turner and Whistler. Few private collections in the world equal this, and not to see it is to miss one of the most notable things in New York, or in America. In addition to paintings it is rich in bronzes, enamels, and other treasures. Closed on Mondays.
Miss Helen C. Frick, daughter of the remarkable man who amassed the fortune and developed the taste to bring together this superb collection, is engaged on a task which may be even more of a benefaction, since it will serve multitudes who cannot get to New York to see her father's gift. She is compiling data about every notable painting in the world and preparing a gigantic catalogue wherein each painting will be represented by a folder containing a large photograph of the picture, together with a history of its creation, a list of its owners, of dealers who have handled it, and a resume of what has been written about it. Imagine, if you can, what this will mean to students of art! It may cover half a million paintings.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the great museums of the world, is in Central Park, on the Fifth Avenue side, at 82d Street. What can I say of this vast treasure-house? A catalogue of its various departments is a volume in itself. And to select for mention a few of the `double-starred' objects seems an impossible undertaking.
The marvel of the Metropolitan is that all it contains has been assembled in sixty-odd years. It began when the great museums of Europe were practically complete. For a time there were still rich possibilities in the breaking-up of famous private collections abroad, due to shrinking fortunes and swelling death duties. Then came stringent laws enacted against the exportation of art treasures from many foreign countries.
In spite of this, the Metropolitan has become one of the really great art museums of the world. Free lectures, and sometimes very fine free concerts.
Besides its very remarkable collection of paintings, it has a fine lot of Greek and Roman antiques, the nucleus of which was bought from Luigi Cesnola in 1872, seven years before he be-came director of the Museum. Cesnola, Italian soldier, after serving with distinction in the Crimean War, went to New York in 1860 to found a training-school for army officers. He fought in our Civil War as colonel of a New York regiment, and after the war was brevetted brigadier-general and appointed United States consul to Cyprus where he made extensive excavations and uncovered many treasures of ancient art.
The Egyptian department is very fine, including the Earl of Carnarvon's collection. The collection of ancient glass is reckoned the finest in the world. Splendid Asiatic art. The superb Morgan collections of decorative arts are specially rich in ivories and enamels. The DeForest Wing of American Art. Great collections of armor, of majolica, faience, of laces, of miniatures, of Renaissance sculpture, furniture, textiles, metal-work. And so on and on and on.
The tendency in the Old World is for great private collections to remain, generation after generation, in the family, unless financial stress necessitates parting with one or more items for immediate relief.
The tendency in this country is for great collections to be donated to the public on the death (sometimes before the death) of the collectors. Throughout America we find notable museums made up by oDe man's collecting, usually in the last two or three decades of a busy industrial life; and other museums greatly enriched by bequests which were not quite sufficient to be made a museum of themselves alone. They furnish a most interesting commentary on American wealth — and a most creditable one.
Whatever your special interest in the beautiful, you will find it satisfied in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One visit will give you little more than a general glimpse or a fairly good inspection of one or two sections. Go often, if you can, for an hour at a time. Free except Mondays and Fridays, when admission is 25 cents.
Between 90th and 91st Streets is the residence of Mrs. An-drew Carnegie.
Between 100th and 101st Streets is the Mt. Sinai Hospital, with more than 500 beds.
At Fifth Avenue and 104th Street is the charming new building of the Museum of the City of New York (closed Tuesdays, free except Mondays), founded only in 1923 and located in this building only since 1932. Its collections are not yet notable, though they doubtless will soon become so, and even now are very interesting. But everyone interested in the history of the City of New York should see its forty or more dioramas of events like Peter Minuit buying Manhattan from the Indians, Peter Stuyvesant defying the Duke of York's officers, Nathan Hale's trial, etc.
The building to the north is the Hecksher Foundation for Children, an outgrowth of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, with a larger scope than the parent organization with which it co-operates. Mr. and Mrs. August Hecksher endowed it with $4,000,000. Next on the north is the Fifth Avenue Hospital.
At 110th Street Central Park ends. In the park, near the Fifth Avenue side, at 107th Street is McGown's Pass, where there was, for nearly 175 years, a tavern. The Pass was a gap in the hills through which ran the main road to Harlem.
`The American troops,' Eva McAdoo tells us, 'straggled through here late in the afternoon of September 15, 1776, the day when the British actually landed in Manhattan, and barely had the last ones gone through when British horsemen dashed up and inquired of a lad, who was loitering near, which way the rebels had gone. Little Andrew McGown, whose father owned a farm hereabouts, led the redcoats a wildgoose chase through devious bypaths while the Americans put a safe distance between themselves and their followers.'
The British dug entrenchments at the Pass; and on November 16, 1776, the large number of American soldiers captured at Fort Washington (183d Street and Broadway) were marched through the Pass on their way to prisons. The British did not evacuate the Pass till November 21, 1783.
New York City Above Forty Second Street - Part 3
( Originally Published 1936 )
It might be that now you would like to return south by way of the East Side of the City, to see some of the residential developments there.
Or you may prefer to cross the Park and visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the New York Historical Society, soon to have a new building, and the American Museum of Natural History.
But certainly you will not want more museums on the day that you have had any two or more of the Bache Collection, the Frick Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Museum of the City of New York.
Better continue north on Fifth Avenue to 125th Street and get a daytime view of Harlem, to which you may return some evening for a glimpse of the 'night life.'
As a study in racial and social conditions Harlem is intensely interesting. Read the chapter called 'Portrait of Harlem' in 'New York Panorama' of the American Guide Series. Mr. Footner's chapter on Harlem is also excellent; and so is Will Irwin's.
In 1930, when the latest census was taken, nearly 328,000 Negroes were residents of New York, the largest single concentration of Negro population anywhere in the world. About a quarter of a million of them live in Harlem.
The ideal way to see, and learn, something of this great community of black people, interspersed with a few whites, is a well-informed courier. Failing that, read 'Portrait of Harlem' and see what you can do for yourself. In certain sections, as many as 3871 Negroes live in a single block. Then there are sections like 'Sugar Hill' on the West Side along St. Nicholas and Edgecomb Avenues with handsome big apartment buildings and fine private houses, and 'Strivers' Row' on 138th and 139th Streets between 7th and 8th Avenues.
Most visitors to New York think of Harlem as a region of 'black and tan' cabarets and dance halls. It is a very great deal more, and well worth some intelligent study. Particularly ought visitors from overseas to give some serious thought to Harlem, because they have nothing like it in Europe; it is distinctly American; one of our gravest problems and also the source of much of our gayest amusement. In 1937, fifty per cent of Harlem's population was on relief.
The Negro population of Harlem is a recent matter, dating only from the early years of this century, and increasing enormously during the World War when so many thousands of southern Negroes came north in search of higher wages.
The name of Harlem dates back to Peter Stuyvesant who founded there, in 1658, the village of Nieuw Haarlem which centered about what is now 125th Street and First Avenue.
If you finish your exploration of Harlem on the East Side, go to the East River, and look over toward Randall's Island where there was a British camp during the Revolution, which 250 Americans tried to capture — but didn't. Jonathan Randall bought the island in 1784, and in 1835 the city bought it from him for $50,000. It is spanned by the new Triborough Bridge and given over to a park with a very fine municipal stadium; south of it, between about 100th Street and 115th Street, is Ward's Island, with a Manhattan State Hospital for the In-sane, and a new million-dollar sewage-disposal plant. But Robert Moses, the exceedingly able Commissioner of Parks, has his eye on this island also for recreation grounds for the swarming East Side; and it may have become so by the time you see it.
The long, narrow island extending from 86th Street south to about 46th Street was formerly called Blackwell's Island or `the Island' among those who had most traffic with it. Until recently it held the City Prison, the Bridewell or Workhouse, two hospitals, a training school for nurses, and the New York City Home for the Aged and Infirm. Mayor La Guardia tore down the notorious city prison and transferred the convicts to Ricker's Island, farther north in East River. Now there is on Welfare Island the first municipally owned hospital in the world for the care and cure of chronic invalids of whom there are so many, increasing so rapidly, that it has been suggested America may become a nation of invalids. Yet chronic disease is not necessarily incurable nor incapacitating. The new hospital on Welfare Island was designed to be a center of research and experimental practice whose findings shall benefit all America, and all humanity.
The magnificent pile of white buildings at 69th Street and York Avenue is the New York Hospital — Cornell University Medical Center, one of the greatest institutions in the world for the study and cure of disease. South of it is the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research whose outposts are to be found in every part of the world. I receive the printed reports of the Institute and read them with intense interest. What is being accomplished is one of the very great epics of modern times. I wish that stories of what it is doing might be better known to millions of people, as an antidote to all we arc asked to read about human degeneracy.
(See, also, when you are in the neighborhood of 168th Street and the Hudson River, the superb Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, one of the greatest institutions of healing in the world.)
In Carl Schurz Park, between 84th and 89th Streets, is the old Gracie Mansion where Washington Irving was a frequent visitor. It was built about 1794, and has recently been restored and furnished in the style of its early days. John Jacob Astor had his country home near-by, where the Doctors' Hospital now stands, at 88th Street and East End Avenue.
Gracie Square, at 86th Street and the East River, is one of the recent reclamations of what had been slum property for high-class residences, and is now very `smart.'
The area between Second Avenue and Fourth Avenue, 83d to 89th Streets, was the village of Yorkville, traversed by the old Post Road.
At 77th Street and the East River are the East River Homes, designed especially for tubercular families. Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt furnished the money to build them. And on Avenue A, between 78th and 79th Streets, you will find an apartment house containing 1014 apartments for people of modest means. While on the river between 76th and 78th Streets is John Jay Park surrounded by `model' tenements which were among the earliest of their sort in New York.
On the river front between 58th and 54th Streets you will find Sutton Place, which used to be an exceedingly modest neighbor-hood of little old houses and has become in recent years one of the `swankest' addresses in New York. Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt and Miss Anne Morgan are among those who have their homes in Sutton Place; and there are immense and expensive apartment houses near-by.
Between 52d and 53d Streets on the river front is River House, the lower floors of which provide the quarters for the ultra-smart River Club, and the upper floors constitute one of the most magnificent apartment houses in New York. The scene of `Dead End' was the foot of 53d Street, under the very shadow of River House.
South from 51st Street to 49th Street runs Beekman Place, where many well-known people live in charm and quiet that seems miles away from a teeming metropolis. The Beekman house, which stood here, built in 1763, became headquarters for the British generals during the Revolution, and it was there that Nathan Hale was tried and sentenced.
Continuing south, you come to Tudor City between 48th and 40th Streets, not directly on the river, but on a bluff above it. There, rents start at $56 a month for one room which has a bed in the wall and a kitchenette in the opposite wall; and every room is full, all the time, with people waiting to get in when the present occupants get out.
New York City Above Forty Second Street - Part 4
( Originally Published 1936 )
On another day turn west from Fifth Avenue on 57th Street, and pass at first many interesting luxury shops; then Steinway Hall on the north side of the street; and, at the corner of Seventh Avenue, Carnegie Hall, where many, many world-famous artists have been heard since its dedication in 1891, with a gift of $2,000,000 from Andrew Carnegie. It is there that the New York Philharmonic Orchestra plays; and in the large auditorium, seating 3000, are given concerts and lectures which draw great audiences, while three smaller halls serve for recitals with a smaller attendance.
Just west of Seventh Avenue is the National Academy of De-sign where the exhibitions aTe held, spring and autumn, of work of the Academicians.
Farther west, on the north side of the street, is the big building of the American Woman's Association, which provides living quarters and social rooms for the varied activities of a very fine organization of which Miss Anne Morgan is president and Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt her principal aide. It brings together in many ways some of the business and professional women of New York and some of those usually designated as `society' women; and gives them unity for a time in the pursuit of a common cause.
Now north, on Broadway, to 59th Street; there you'll find Columbus Circle, where Broadway crosses Eighth Avenue. North of Columbus Circle (at which is the southwest entrance to Central Park) Eighth Avenue becomes Central Park West.
At 62d Street was once the Century Theater built at enormous cost, when this century was young, to give the finest possible setting for drama, opera, dancing; but never a success, and now Temoved to make way for apartments.
Between 76th and 77th Streets is the New York Historical Society, founded in 1804 for the purpose of collecting and pre-serving material relating to the history of New York; but in the course of time there have been bequeathed to it many paintings besides portraits of New Yorkers, and collections of Egyptian antiquities and Assyrian sculptures — the latter including thirteen marble slabs excavated from the ruins of Nineveh. The collection of paintings is numerically second only to that of the Metropolitan, and probably ranks third in merit — after the Metropolitan and the Frick.
Among the historical objects (in the room to the right of the entrance) is the table used by the Federal Congress in 1789; a section of the trunk of that pear tree which Peter Stuyvesant planted in 1644 and which stood for two hundred years at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street; the iron railing from the balcony of Federal Hall; pieces of that leaden statue of George III which patriots tore from its pedestal in Bowling Green, on July 9, 1776, and melted into bullets to shoot at King George's soldiers; the family coach of James Beekman, built in 1770; and the mantel from Beekman's house beside which Major Andre stood to receive sentence of death. As this book goes to press two new wings are about to be opened.
Immediately north of the Historical Society is the magnificent American Museum of Natural History, standing in Manhattan Square between 77th and 81st Streets, with the fine Hayden Planetarium at 81st Street.
Many millions have been given to this museum, and it is probably the finest of its kind in the world, though close-pressed by the Field Museum in Chicago. The floor area is enormous, and few persons would care to cover it in a single day; even if one did, he would have little time to do more than glance to right and left as he passed along. The only rational thing to do is to select some few departments which specially interest you, and concentrate on those. YouT choice may be for invertebrates or for Esquimaux, for birds or for Indians, for archaeology or for mammoths and mastodons. You may content your-self with just a glimpse of Akeley African Hall, or of Roy Chapman Andrews's dinosaur eggs. But don't fail to see something, however little, of this great institution. And as you look about you there, be as mindful as you can of the tremendous romance and adventure which has gone into the assembling of those great collections.
The Planetarium is one of the most popular exhibitions in New York and doing a very fine educational work, giving multitudes of people an interest in that greatest of all natural marvels, 'the firmament on high,' which spreads its glory above us all, night after night, and requires no 'expeditions.' Even a little curiosity about it is richly rewarded.
Upper New York has other museums of note: at Broadway between 155th and 156th Streets, in Audubon Park, are the American Geographical Society, the Museum of the American Indian, the American Numismatic Society, and the Hispanic Society of America. Most popular of all 'outlying' New York museums now, and not to be missed, is The Cloisters, in Tryon Park, at 190th Street and Fort Washington Avenue. The Cloisters is the only branch of the Metropolitan Museum. Fort Tryon Park, of 56 acres, between Broadway and the Hudson, was presented to the City of New York by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in 1930. It is he highest ground in Manhattan, and is worthy to confront the magnificent Palisades on the New Jersey shore, opposite. During the Revolution, Fort Tryon occupied the spot where The Cloisters now stand; and it was there that Margaret Corbin, who had gone into battle with her husband, took his place at his gun, when he was killed, and served it till her arm was nearly torn off by grapeshot.
George Grey Barnard, eminent American sculptor, during his long residence in France made systematic explorations of vicinities where ancient abbeys had been pillaged and destroyed during the French Revolution, and piece by piece acquired for nearly nothing most of the pillars from four different cloisters and a great many other carved treasures which the neighboring peasants were using for base purposes. These he shipped back to New York and, as he could, assembled on this commanding eminence where he built his studio. When the cost of what he was doing became too great for a sculptor to bear, the Metropolitan Museum, through the munificence of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., took it over; and at the same time Mr. Rockefeller gave it his own collection of fifty mediaeval sculptures and primitive paintings. No one who loves such things should fail to visit The Cloisters. It is one of the choicest beauty spots of Manhattan Island. The `unicorn' tapestries, unrivaled by any in the United States, if not in the world, hang here, another Rockefeller gift valued at over a million dollars; and there are other treasures of mediaeval art which the French Government — so deeply indebted to Mr. Rockefeller for his great gifts to-ward the restoration of many of its precious monuments — gave special permission for him to export.
Brooklyn also has a notably fine museum of Arts and Sciences, which students will not miss, though most visitors will probably find Manhattan supplied with more than enough museums for the time they have to spend, and for their inclinations in that direction.
One more museum in New York I mention because there will surely be among my readers some who would not like to miss it: The Master Institute of United Arts at Riverside Drive and 103d Street, founded by Nicholas Constantinovich Roerich, Russian painter of Scandinavian, or Slavic, origin who did important work in Russia — in murals, and for the theater. In 1917 he came to this country, and in 1924 he went on a long journey to the Orient from which he brought back many treasures. If you are interested in the landscape, the folklore, of India, Chinese Turkestan, Mongolia, Tibet, you will want to see this collection.
New York City Above Forty Second Street - Part 5
( Originally Published 1936 )
Other places you will probably wish to see in Uptown New York are: The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Riverside Church, Grant's Tomb, Columbia University, and the Bronx Zoo; also, some of the old mansions which have been preserved — the Jumel Mansion, the Dyckman House, the Van Cortlandt Mansion; and Poe's Cottage. All these can be easily seen in a single drive which may also include The Cloisters and Harlem. All of them can be reached by subway or bus or a combination of both. Some of them are included in the Gray Line and other motor-coach tours of Upper New York.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is at 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue; and Columbia University is at Amster-dam Avenue and 116th Street. The quickest way to them is by subway; but the most interesting approach is by Riverside Drive.
Anywhere on Fifth Avenue below 57th Street take Bus No. 5; or anywhere on Fifth Avenue between 32d and 57th Streets take Bus No. 8. This latter bus starts from the Pennsylvania Station at Seventh Avenue and 32d Street and goes east on 32d Street. If you are in one of the hotels near the Pennsylvania Station, it will be more convenient for you to take it at its starting point.
Turning west on 57th Street these buses continue on 57th Street to Broadway and follow Broadway to 72d Street, where they turn west again to Riverside Drive, which extends north from 72d Street as far as the Harlem River at 220th Street, with a beautiful park between the drive and the river.
Between 73d and 74th Streets is the very fine residence of Charles M. Schwab, steel magnate, which cost nearly three mil-lion dollars, irrespective of contents, and may become the property of New York City after the death of Mr. Schwab, to be used as a residence for New York mayors and the seat of municipal hospitality. It has a famous organ and has been the scene of many of the finest private musicales given in America.
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument at 90th Street commemorates the men who fought in defense of the Union, from 1861 to 1865. Its architectural inspiration was the famous choragic monument of Lysicrates erected at Athens when the Parthenon was new. The copy of Houdon's statue of Washing-ton was a gift from the school children.
The view from there is fine.
The equestrian bronze of Jeanne d'Arc, at 93d Street, is by Anna Vaughn Hyatt. The pedestal contains a stone from Reims Cathedral where Jeanne saw her Dauphin crowned, and some . stones from the tower in Rouen where she was imprisoned while awaiting trial and execution.
Now you may like to continue along Riverside Drive to Grant's Tomb, the Riverside Church, and Claremont. Or you may prefer to leave the bus at 112th Street and walk two blocks east, to the Cathedral.
Grant's Tomb is at 122d Street. Opinions of its architectural worth differ widely. Will Irwin calls it a `gigantic mustard-pot,' an `exaggerated ink-well,' and `the final horror of the Civil War.' Others find it `nothing to be ashamed of.' Ninety thou-sand persons contributed an aggregate of $600,000 to erect the tomb (finished in 1897, twelve years after Grant's death), but `politics' prevailed in the selection of the design — as is too of-ten the case with memorials.
Close to it stands the new Riverside Church, more frequently called the Rockefeller Church because of Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s, great gifts to it. Inspired by Chartres Cathedral, it has to serve not only as a temple of worship but as an institutional church carrying on a great variety of social service. In-stead of spires, it has a tower four hundred feet high in which are twenty-two stories of church offices and clubs, topped by a belfry with a famous carillon of seventy-two bells which plays on Saturday afternoons between 5 and 6 and on Sundays between 4 and 5 P.M.
About this church, too, there is wide difference of opinion as to its beauty and fitness. You will form your own conclusions.
North of Grant's Tomb is Claremont, once a private mansion, now a restaurant. The house was built soon after the Revolution by a man named Michael Hogan who had been a fellow midshipman with King George III's third son, Prince William, whom Hogan entertained at Claremont when the sailor-prince visited America. In 1807, Robert Fulton's Clermont had its first trial on the Hudson opposite Claremont. When Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's elder brother, was in America, after Waterloo, he lived at Claremont.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine has been building since 1892, and will not be completed for some years to come. When finished, this will be the third largest cathedral in the world, ranking after St. Peter's in Rome and Santa Maria in Seville; it will seat more than 10,000 and accommodate 5000 more over-flowing into the ambulatories and chapels. When completed, the distance between the front doors and the high altar will be more than two city blocks. The estimated cost is $20,000,000.
Bishop Henry Potter was the founder; but long before he succeeded his uncle, Horatio Potter, as Bishop of New York, the latter had dreamed dreams of a great cathedral far uptown; he died, however, before the ground was bought.
The ground on which it stands — eleven acres — is on the eastern slope of Morningside Heights, a steep bluff that rises from the northwest corner of Central Park, extends westward to the Hudson, and runs north to 123d Street. Crowning this high ground are Columbia University and the Cathedral; also Union Theological Seminary and St. Luke's Hospital.
The first architects of the Cathedral were Heins and La Farge. Since 1911, Cram and Ferguson have been in charge. I shall not attempt a detailed description.
Columbia University is a city in itself, with over 30,000 students and probably 20,000 other inhabitants occupied in ministering to the students in various capacities.
King's College, founded in 1754 under George II, changed its name to Columbia College when New York had finished with kings, and became Columbia University in 1892. The first class, numbering seven, graduated in 1758. Two years later, the first college building was completed, at Park Place and Church Street down near the present City Hall. There the college stayed till 1857, when it moved to the block bounded by Madison and Park Avenues, 49th and 50th Streets. It had 154 students then. Forty years later it moved to Morningside Heights.
Enter at 116th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, facing the stately Library. On your left, west of Broad-way, is Barnard College, the undergraduate college for women. Teachers will not miss the Horace Mann School at the corner of Broadway and 120th Street; it is a laboratory of Teachers College, for the practical trial and demonstration of new educational methods, and has a world-wide fame.
It is difficult to guess what may be your chief interest in visiting Columbia. Possibly the architecture, much of which is very fine. Possibly you seek such impressions as you may get of the exceedingly cosmopolitan student body which includes representatives of every important nation in the world. No wonder it was there that Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., built the first of his International Houses for the common ground of students of many races, creeds, colors.
The battle of Harlem Heights took place on this ground, September 16, 1776. The American Army, retreating from Long Island, had taken up a position around what is now 125th Street. The British, following, encamped on September 15 at 104th Street. Next day, the Americans induced the British to advance, and defeated them, driving them into a buckwheat field where Barnard College now stands. In this engagement the Americans lost 30 men and had 100 wounded. A tablet to commemorate the battle is on the west wall of the Hall of Engineering, Columbia.
North of Columbia, between 138th and 140th Streets, Amsterdam Avenue and St. Nicholas Terrace, is the College of the City of New York, part of the public school system of the city, which has also three other colleges: Brooklyn College; Hunter College (at Park Avenue and 69th Street) which trains girls for teachers, and gives a general four-year course in the liberal arts; and Queens College in Flushing.
The City College, as the parent institution is usually called, has an average yearly enrollment of about 30,000 students, predominantly Jewish. Brooklyn College has more than 10,000 students of both sexes. Hunter College is one of the largest women's colleges in the country. Queens was opened only in September, 1937, but is already flourishing.
New York University, originally in Washington Square, is now scattered about the city, its principal group of buildings at University Heights at 181st Street above the Harlem River. It has an annual enrollment of some 38,000 students.
Fordham University, largest Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States, has more than 7000 students.
Scores of other institutions added to these make New York City the largest center of educational activities in the world.
You will probably wish to visit New York University to see the Hall of Fame, a semicircular colonnade 600 feet long in which are placed bronze tablets, topped by bronze portrait busts, of great Americans. There are spaces for 150 memorials, to be completed about the year 2000. Every five years five more names are chosen by a committee of 100 prominent persons.
The Hall of Fame and the Gould Memorial Library are gifts of Mrs. Finley J. Shepard (Miss Helen Gould) in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jay Gould.
It is not far along Fordham Road from the Hall of Fame to Poe Park and the little cottage where Edgar Allan Poe's young wife, Virginia, died. There he wrote `Annabel Lee' and other poems.
Fordham University is near-by and east of it is Bronx Park with one of the largest and finest `zoos' in the world, arranged with great skill; and the New York Botanical Garden, likewise notable. To get an idea at all adequate of Bronx Park alone, a half day is necessary. So it would be better to make an objective of the Park and go there by subway.
Now for a word or two about the old mansions:
The Jumel Mansion is at 160th Street and Jumel Place; Fifth Avenue Bus No. 3 will take you there. It was built about 1765 and from September 14 to October 19, 1776, was Washington's headquarters. After the fall of Fort Washington, British and Hessian commanders occupied the house. When the war was over it became an inn, and was the scene of a famous dinner given in honor of President Washington and his cabinet, in 1790.
Twenty years later, a wealthy French wine merchant bought the place. He died in 1832, and the following year his widow married Aaron Burr. They soon separated. There is an interesting small museum in the house, which is open daily, free.
The Dyckman house is the only real eighteenth-century farm-house still standing on Manhattan Island. It was built about 1783, and was lived in by the Dyckman family until 1868. Now a museum, open free to the public. It is at the northwest corner of Broadway and 204th Street.
At Broadway and 242d Street is Van Cortlandt Park, of 1132 acres, one of Upper New York's most popular playgrounds. Near the entrance that is close to the subway station at 242d Street is the Van Cortlandt Mansion, built in 1748. Washington was twice a guest there — in 1781 prior to setting forth to York-town, and on November 12, 1783, before crossiDg King's Bridge to enter New York. Rochambeau was also entertained there; and the Duke of Clarence who was to become King William IV. The furnishings are very interesting, and there is a charming Dutch garden.
Now, this is but a tithe of what might be said, should be said, about Uptown New York. But it is practically all that I dare take room for. You will certainly make at least one drive in the upper part of the island, and see the amazing network of speed-ways constructed there; the vast `bedchambers' in which hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers live; and the beautiful new bridges — the George Washington Bridge crossing the Hudson at 179th Street and the Triborough Bridge crossing the East River at 125th Street.
Of the World's Fair I say nothing as there will be guides galore for that; and I hope this book may be serving readers long after the Fair has become a memory. It is building, as I write, in Flushing Meadow Park, borough of Queens, and will be three and a half miles long and a mile and a quarter wide in the main exhibit area.
I haven't been able to say anything about Brooklyn, or Coney Island — probably the most famous playground in the world, to which on a hot Sunday half a million New Yorkers and their visitors are said to resort.
One experience which many visitors will enjoy is a visit to one of the great ocean liners whose docks are — most of them — along the Hudson River from 14th Street to 23d and (for the largest of all) in the vicinity of 50th Street. On days when one of these is sailing, the dock is an animated scene and no ticket is required for admission to the ship unless she is very new and likely to be mobbed by sight-seers. If you watch the shipping news in the daily papers you will learn on what day a specially interesting ship is sailing. Get there not less than two hours before sailing time, and you can see a good deal. For a `conducted' inspection, with explanation, apply at one of the steamship offices for a pass. And tip the steward or cabin-boy who shows you about. Ships lying in port do not present as gay an appearance as they do on a voyage, or when passengers are embarking.
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