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1930s

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 6:30-8:00 pm

Anthony W. Robins Book Talk

New York Art Deco
A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age Architecture

SUNY Press, 2017

Lively and informative, New York Art Deco leads readers step-by-step past the monuments of the 1920s and ’30s that recast New York as the world’s modern metropolis. Anthony W. Robins new walking tour guidebook traces itineraries in Manhattan and across the boroughs. Maps by John Tauranac and color plates by Art Deco photographer Randy Juster enrich the mix. Join Tony for a talk that distills his thirty years experience hunting the urban Art Deco.

A native New Yorker, Anthony W. Robins is the author of books on Grand Central Terminal, the World Trade Center, and the art and architecture of the New York subway system. A popular leader of walking tours all over the city, he specializes in Art Deco, having organized series for many organizations, including the Art Deco Society of New York and the Municipal Art Society. He is the recipient of the 2017 Guiding Spirit Award from the Guides Association of New York City.

The Skyscraper Museum offers 1.5 LUs for AIA Members for this program.

Reservations are required, and priority is given to Members and Corporate Member firms and their employees.
All guests MUST RSVP to programs@skyscraper.org to assure admittance to the event. Not a member? Become a Museum member today!

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From The New York Times:

Photo

The railroad station at Westchester Avenue was designed by Cass Gilbert and is considered endangered. Credit Left, Library of Congress; Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Built in 1908 and designed by Cass Gilbert, those that have not been demolished are near collapse, like the Westchester Avenue station. It is a sublime glazed terra-cotta temple, its little tragedy now exposed on all four sides with the opening of the new Concrete Plant Park.

A dozen stations were projected in 1904, when the railroad began upgrading the Harlem River Branch from the southern Bronx up to New Rochelle. But not all were built and, in addition to Westchester Avenue, three survive today: Morris Park, Hunts Point Avenue and City Island, which is a ruined shell. (The historian Joseph Brennan has closely investigated the stations and has posted his research at columbia.edu/~brennan.)

Gilbert, newly minted as a starchitect with the 1899 commission for the United States Custom House at Bowling Green, got the job of designing the stations, and gave them widely different styles.

The Morris Park station was chunky and low, with arched windows framed by brightly colored terra-cotta bands that also ran under the eaves. Oddly shaped iron torchiers gave it something of the feel of the Secession style as practiced contemporaneously in Austria, although Gilbert was anything but adventurous.

Photo

The Morris Park station as it appeared in 1915 and today. Credit Top, Library of Congress; Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

That said, his Westchester Avenue and Hunts Point Avenue stations are particularly striking. At Westchester Avenue the station projects out over the tracks, and so floats on a frame of steel. At street level, high above the rails, the main tower is a little display case of glazed terra cotta, cream-colored panels set off by colored floral medallions, lozenges and crisscross bands in gold, azure and dark red.

It is hard to decipher from old photographs and present conditions, but the portion over the tracks looks as if the terra-cotta panels were framed in iron straps. These must have been painted, but are now pure rust, giving the building a strange, skeletal aspect.

The Hunts Point Avenue station, just visible from the northbound Bruckner Expressway, bridges the tracks from one side to the other, along the avenue. French Renaissance in style, it might have been the royal stable of a French king. The delicate copper roof cresting had spikes big enough to impale an ox, and below run lines of little scalloped dormers.

In 1909, The Real Estate Record and Guide noted the “marked architectural beauty” of the new stations. John A. Droege, in his 1916 book “Passenger Terminals and Trains” (McGraw-Hill) noted that “the ordinary wayside passenger station is not the proper field for the architect who wishes to rival the designer of the Paris opera house.” But he reviewed Gilbert’s stations in depth, apparently with approval.…

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from The New York Times: When Typewriters Were the Toast of (Lower) Broadway
F.Y.I.
By TAMMY La GORCE JAN. 12, 2017

“Typewriter Row was a New York destination from the 1880s until around 1930, said Michael A. Brown, a typewriter expert who self-published the book “Typewriter Row: A Walking Tour of Lower Broadway” in 2003….But Typewriter Row, which stretched for eight blocks, from Park Place past City Hall up to Leonard Street, was not known for actually making the machines. Models from companies like Hammond, Remington and L. C. Smith were just shown and sold there.

“These were mostly the sales and distribution offices,” said Mr. Brown, who lives in Philadelphia and is editor of the newsletter The Typewriter Exchange. “Customers would come in and see the new models and test them out, but the factories were in places like Pennsylvania or other parts of New York or Connecticut.”…Passages from the 1954 book “The Wonderful Writing Machine,” by Bruce Bliven Jr., look back on Typewriter Row’s glory days.

“At lunchtime on a sunny day the sidewalks were crowded with men and women talking about the latest sensation in the typewriter business,” one passage reads. And another: “How about the feats performed by Kittie Smith, who had learned to type better with her toes than many persons could with their fingers, and was getting big publicity in the newspapers and magazines?”

Other sections detail the buildings’ décor (“the prevailing style was expensive-solemn” with “potted palms galore”) and the salesmanship along the Row (“There were only a couple of L. C. Smiths in sight, on the theory that it was psychologically more sound to display two than 200, as if the product were a rare jewel”).…

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-cut-and-paste-
“I am working on disability activism in NYC in the 1930s–including, of
course, the League of the Physically Handicapped.
I understand that in the late 1980s DIA interviewed members of the League,
including Florence Haskell and Sylvia Bassoff. Do you know how I might be
able to access those tapes?
Thanks!
Warren ”
www.WarrenShawHistorian.com…

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Press photographer Weegee’s Bowery was a Skid Row of derelicts and drunks – a world away from the boutique hotels and hipster joints that line the street today. In the ’40s and ’50s, it was notorious for fleabag hotels, flop houses that offered 25-cent-per-night beds, and crowded all-night missions that provided food and shelter to those who could afford neither.

We previously shared the news that a new exhibit Weegee’s Bowery, curated by the International Center of Photography would be at Mana Contemporary in New Jersey. We are pleased now to show additional photographs that shed led on this underclass of transients, who huddled in the shadow of the Third Avenue elevated railway, and were caught by Weegee’s lens.

Weegee even lived amongst his subjects in the early 1930s. ICP Weegee specialist Christopher George said: “In his autobiography Weegee by Weegee, he writes for a time he lived in a ‘Bowery flea bag. Beds in the dormitory were only fifteen cents, but I liked the privacy. The coughing of the drunks went on all night long, but I didn’t care. I liked the Bowery. It was colorful. At night I would go to the missions… There was no crime on the Bowery’.”

Weegee’s Bowery includes an extensive selection of his photographs of a raucous nightclub and cabaret called Sammy’s, located at 267 Bowery. From its opening in 1934, until its doors closed in 1970, Sammy’s provided a setting where adventurous uptown sophisticates could mingle with the bar’s flamboyant entertainers and hard-drinking regulars. The New York Times described Sammy’s clientele as a mix of “drunks and swells, drifters and celebrities, the rich and the forgotten.”

Weegee – whose real name was Arthur Fellig – also appears in a number of the 39 photographs on display, as the boisterous book-launch parties for his publications Naked City and Weegee’s People were held at Sammy’s. But while Weegee photographed hard-living drinkers, he himself was known more for being extremely hard working.

George explains: “The photos of Weegee’s book publication celebrations, in 1945 and ’46, are fascinating. In July 1945, when World War II was winding down, a few weeks before atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, Weegee was at the acme of his career and was famous.

“The wildly exuberant publication parties were the culmination of 10 years of near-obsessive, around-the-clock work as a freelance photographer and photojournalist, often photographing difficult things; tragedies like crimes and fires.

“In the photos, Weegee is celebrating (dancing with and kissing many female guests) but he’s also working. During the 1946 Wegee’s People publication party, in photos made by the genius Simon Nathan and brilliant Lee Sievan, he’s seen wearing a tuxedo and holding a Bolex 16mm movie camera.

“Portions of what he filmed that night at Sammy’s are in his film Cocktail Party – which is included in Weegee’s Bowery.

The 39 prints in the exhibition have been chosen by George from ICP’s holdings of more than 20,000 Weegee photographs. He said: “More than 300 of his photographs were made on the Bowery.…

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Club Wit’s End

On the last Saturday of the month, January through October, come join us in a celebration of Jazz Age culture, cocktails, and dance! Where vintage clothes, classic drinks, and the hot sounds from the 1920s and 1930s mix. …

Tomorrow (1/30 is the January party, the first Wit’s End party of the New Year)

About the party: Wit’s End presents Michael Arenella, creator and founder of the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island, at the debut party at St. Cloud in the Knickerbocker Hotel, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. The party is at the Knickerbocker Hotel, 6 Times Square, opened by the legendary John Jacob Astor IV on the corner of Forty-second Street and Broadway. After a 95-year break, it reopened in early 2015 to glowing reviews. Wit’s End will be ensconced in St. Cloud–called “New York’s greatest rooftop lounge” with sweeping views of Times Square–sixteen stories above Broadway.

Also on the bill tonight is DJ Mike Will Cut You, New York’s vintage music DJ who plays classic sounds from 80-year old recordings. He is the host of “Ragged But Right” on WFMU Radio and performs at the Jazz Age Lawn Party. The hostess is glamorous showgirl Kita St. Cyr, channeling Mae West, Yma Sumac, and a dash of Lili St. Cyr. The co-sponsor of the party is the Dorothy Parker Society, the drinking club with a book problem.

Ticket Prices:

$15.00: in advance online via Brown Paper Tickets (entry 8 pm)
$20.00: at the door
$15.00: 11 O’Clock Frolic (entry 11 pm) at the door
Must be 21 to attend.

About the Wit’s End Party:

Doors open at 8:00 pm. At 9:00 pm is a free dance lesson, taught by professional instructors Jeri Lynn Astra and Neal Groothuis. Learn classic steps such as Balboa and Lindy Hop that will be useful once the live music begins. The band begins at 10:00 pm. Table service is available and reservations are highly recommended. After you buy tickets, call 212-204-4980 to reserve a table at St. Cloud.

Follow on Instagram and Twitter @clubwitsend @stcloudnyc. On Facebook: facebook.com/clubwitsend and facebook.com/theknickNYC. Follow #clubwitsend #stcloudNYC

About the Wit’s End Pre-Party Dinner:

The pre-party dinner is served at Charlie Palmer at The Knick, on the 4th floor. The pre-fixe dinner menu is $45 for a delicious three-course meal. Wit’s End will have tables reserved beginning at 6:00 pm. (Cost of dinner is separate from the party admission). After you buy tickets, call 212-204-4983 to make a dinner reservation (singles are welcome).

The Wit’s End Dress Code:

Vintage and vintage-inspired clothing is recommended. Gentlemen must wear coat and tie. Not permitted: Denim, tennis shoes, flip-flops, T-shirts, shirts with graphics, tank tops, baseball caps.

Follow on Instagram and Twitter @clubwitsend @stcloudnyc. On Facebook: facebook.com/clubwitsend and facebook.com/theknickNYC. Follow #clubwitsend #stcloudNYC

 …

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from the NYC MTA: MTA New York City Transit, NY Transit Museum Ring in Holidays with Vintage Buses, Subways

Vintage Train

MTA New York City Transit and the New York Transit Museum are putting extra magic on the tracks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s annual holiday tradition of rides to the past via its vintage fleet of buses and subway trains – and the chance for transit fans to buy museum merchandise at a special station pop-up shop.

The holiday nostalgia fleet includes subway cars from the 1930s and buses from the late 1940s to the 1980s. The New York Transit Museum typically displays these vehicles during special events at the museum or around the city, but are offering these holiday nostalgia rides to the public for a limited time with the swipe of a MetroCard. Some vintage buses also will be on display at Union Square, Herald Square and at the Circle Line Terminal.

For four consecutive Sundays in December, subway customers can catch the “Shoppers Special,” a train consisting of eight cars from the 1930s that ran along the lettered lines until the late 1970s. The cars, which were ordered for the Independent Subway System (IND), were the first subway cars to be identified by their contract numbers, hence the R1/9 designations. R1/9 cars, known as ““City-Cars,” have rattan seats, ceiling fans, incandescent light bulbs, and roll signs for passenger information. Their design of more doors that were also wider and faster, plus increased standing capacity to accommodate crowds, served as the model of modern subway cars, and their dimensions are identical to the latest R160 cars. They were retired from service in 1977.

“For all intents and purposes, this was the first modern subway car and today’s subway fleets owe a lot to the design,” said Joe Leader, Senior Vice President of Subways. “They were basic, durable and offered the expected levels of customer comfort for decades after they were introduced into service. We continue to build upon this strong foundation with each new car design.”

The “Shoppers Special” will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 6, 13, 20, and 27, making local stops on the 6 Av Line from Queens Plaza to 2 Av. The first run of the day departs from 2 Av, where a special museum pop-up shop will be open every Sunday during the holiday nostalgia rides.

MTA NYC Transit is also putting a fleet of vintage buses on the M42 route for weekday daytime service between November 30 and December 18. The buses, which will operate between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., will only be available weather permitting. The vintage fleet will not operate in rainy, snowy or icy conditions.

This year’s holiday nostalgia buses were manufactured by General Motors, Mack and Flexible, three major firms that no longer manufacture buses.

“Seeing these vintage buses in service again is always a nostalgic event for many New Yorkers. My father and I drove some of these buses, which makes this an especially personal event for me,” said Darryl Irick, President of MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President New York City Transit Department of Buses.

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from Spoiled NYC: MTA Just Announced Vintage Subways and Buses Will Run Over the Holiday Season in NYC

Because it’s officially the holiday season in New York City, there’s news of this from the wonderful folks over at the MTA:

“For four consecutive Sundays in December, subway customers can catch the “Shoppers Special,” a train consisting of eight cars from the 1930s that ran along the lettered lines until the late 1970s.

The cars, which were ordered for the Independent Subway System (IND), were the first subway cars to be identified by their contract numbers, hence the R1/9 designations.

R1/9 cars, known as ““City-Cars,” have rattan seats, ceiling fans, incandescent light bulbs, and roll signs for passenger information.

Their design of more doors that were also wider and faster, plus increased standing capacity to accommodate crowds, served as the model of modern subway cars, and their dimensions are identical to the latest R160 cars. They were retired from service in 1977.”

“For all intents and purposes, this was the first modern subway car and today’s subway fleets owe a lot to the design,” said Joe Leader, Senior Vice President of Subways.

“They were basic, durable and offered the expected levels of customer comfort for decades after they were introduced into service. We continue to build upon this strong foundation with each new car design.”

Is it just us or do these holiday trains actually make the price of subway ride less… painful on our minds (and wallets)?…

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Denny Daniels’ newsletter for the Museum of Interesting Things has the following information to impart: “As I mentioned, save Sept 13th for the Nautical/Prohibition Speakeasy. This week I got this 16mm film on old sailing boats just for that event! Our collection of vintage 16mm films is over 300 and has nearly every subject. From Nasa to Old cartoons to WW2 footage, circus footage and Bouncing Ball singAlong footage. I even got one vintage film on Arctic Ice and a 1940’s German one on how to make shoes. My dad was a big shoe designer.”…

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