Tags:

mid-century

from the NY Times:

Beloved Anachronisms, Times Square Mosaics of the City May Be Preserved

Chances are, you have passed by them dozens of times. Chances are, you have never noticed.

Two of the largest maps of New York City are the one-story mosaic murals on either side of the Times Square police substation. Despite their size, however, they tend to disappear in the visual maelstrom of Broadway, Seventh Avenue and West 43rd Street, the intersection where the substation sits.

In a realm of LEDs, they are made of hand-cut blue and orange glass tiles. Among bloated monuments to excess, they are diminutively detailed. On a block where subtlety has no role, they exhibit refined artistry, with color gradients that make it appear as if sheer, feathery muslin had been draped over 16 lines radiating from a compass rose. And as the city continues pell-mell into the 21st century, they are frozen in 1957.

For instance, the Metropolitan Opera House (No. 15 on the map) is shown in Midtown Manhattan, where it has not been since 1966. At Columbus Circle is the New York Coliseum (No. 6). Too bad it was razed in 2000.

Anachronisms aside, the maps are worth seeing and worth saving. And that is worth saying because the Police Department has begun to make plans for a $3.5 million rehabilitation and modernization of the substation.

Happily, City Hall seems to understand the maps’ importance.

“We’re looking closely at where and how the murals might be preserved,” Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said last week.

The map murals are the work of Edward Meshekoff (1917-2010), an artist, illustrator and designer who was born in the Bronx and educated at the University of California, Los Angeles. His commissions included a children’s playroom aboard the ocean liner United States and the 1952 children’s book “The Little Car That Wanted a Garage.”

Photo

A surviving icon of the Brooklyn Bridge from one of the mosaics. Credit Cassandra Giraldo for The New York Times

On the maps, childlike delight is evident in the metal icons Mr. Meshekoff embedded among mosaic tiles to pinpoint civic landmarks: an artist’s palette for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (No. 9), a polka-dot apatosaurus for the American Museum of Natural History (No. 10), a giraffe for the Bronx Zoo (No. 12), an open book for the New York Public Library (No. 17) and, for the opera house at Broadway and West 39th Street, a staff with a treble clef and a G note.

The map sweeps across the city’s five boroughs and New Jersey, from the Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Narrows to the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, this does not look like a representation of police work. But the building was not constructed for the police.

It was originally the Times Square Information Center, which opened in 1957 and was dedicated in 1958, after 66,000 visitors had come through, with questions like these for employees of the city’s Department of Commerce and Public Events:

Photo

A 1957 photograph of the mosaic on the west wall of what was then a city information center.

Continue reading

You may have never heard of a newspaper called PM. But it was one of several daily newspapers which New York City used to support in the mid-20th century. Surviving issues, some of which feature now well-known writers and photographers, provide a window into the lives and concerns of people during the 1940s, when the paper ran.

According to Untapped Cities, “the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea is pulling the paper back into the spotlight with the exhibition “PM New York Daily: 1940-48.” Until February 20th, the gallery will show pictures from PM, taken by the biggest photographers of the ’40s including Lisette Model, Margaret Bourke-White and Weegee.

The paper was founded by Ralph Ingersoll, the managing editor of Time-Life publications who was known for his daring and defiant character. In 1941, when Stalin made an interview with Ingersoll off-the-record, the editor ran a detailed illustration of the Kremlin and pointed out the gate where Ingersoll had entered – proof that the interview had indeed happened.

In an age of press corruption, Ingersoll was adamant that PM would not publish ads. It survived on donations and subscriptions alone. Or rather it limped by. In 1946, its owner, Chicago bank millionaire Marshall Field, declared that the paper would begin accepting ads. Ingersoll resigned.

But PM‘s first five years were glorious. The paper supported President Roosevelt’s New Deal and preached the plight of the working class. From abroad, it exposed the fascism of World War II. PM reporters were writing about the mass murder of Jews as early as 1941.

You can see these articles at the gallery, where each photo is paired with a copy of the newspaper page that it appeared on. The white walls are a medley of pristine prints in elegant black frames and taped-up photocopies of newspaper articles. It’s the best and biggest scrapbook you’ve ever seen.”

I’m going to go to the exhibit if I can.…

Continue reading

from Creative Boom: Photographs of everyday life in 1950s New York City discovered in an attic 45 years later

“The vintage photographs you’re about to see have an interesting history. They all came from a cardboard box filled with negatives that was unopened and virtually forgotten for over 45 years. When undiscovered photographer Frank Larson passed away in 1964, his wife Eleanora boxed up all of their possessions and moved out of their retirement home in Lakeville, Connecticut. The box of negatives was one of these items, and it has remained with the family ever since, tucked away in storage.

That was until, Carole Larson – the widow of Frank’s youngest son David – and her son Soren were sorting though old boxes in their attic and found the negatives.

Soren said: “I had seen a few examples of my grandfather’s photography over the years and always admired them – our old family photo albums have a few small prints of his work in them. My father also used to speak with admiration about his father’s love of photography and his weekend trips with his Rolleiflex into the city to film places like the Bowery, Chinatown and Times Square.

“But when I opened the box and began to explore what was inside I was truly shocked at the quality and range of the images, as well as the effort, dedication and love he brought to the task. When Frank died in 1964, I was only three years old, and too young to remember this gentle, careful man.”

Inside the box were over 100 envelopes filled with mostly medium-format, 2 1/4″ x 2 1/4″ negatives. The packets were marked by date and location, carefully sealed and left exactly as he packed them 50 years ago. Soren added: “As I began unsealing each packet and holding the negatives up to the light, it was like a trip back in time, back to the New York of the early ’50s.”

Following the discovering, Soren built a website in dedication to his grandfather, sharing the negatives-turned-photographs with the rest of the world. You can view more of Frank Larson’s amazing photography at www.franklarsonphotos.com. “…

Continue reading

from Eater.com: Classic Chelsea Luncheonette La Taza De Oro Is Closed for Good

by
“After nearly nine months in the dark, the owner of classic Chelsea greasy spoon La Taza de Oro has decided not to reopen the restaurant. The luncheonette’s troubles started last spring when Con Ed turned off the gas and the DOB issued a vacate order after a few bricks fell from a neighboring building. The restaurant’s proprietor, Eric Montalvo, also owns the building, but after losing nine months of income, he made the decision to close it for good. As Jeremiah Moss notes, he’s retiring and his kids don’t want to run the business.”

… “Last year, Robert Sietsema put La Taza D’Oro on his list of “irreplaceable dining institutions.”  Eater’s critic noted: “This 1950s Puerto Rican lunch counter, perfectly intact in every detail including formica counter and menu rotating in weekly cycles, is supremely redolent of Chelsea’s Latin past.”

A comment writer on Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY said: “This is, of course, punishingly sad. The neighborhood has lost Sucelt on 14th and 7th, and Cabo Rojo on 10th Avenue and 24th, and now Taza. I took my kids there every week. And what of all the jobs lost? Luis, Lucie, Reve, and so many others. And the impromptu art exhibitions on the walls. I saw Mr. Montalvo there a few weeks ago and, having noticed that he was painting the restored cornice yellow and red (like the rice and beans within!) I asked him when he was reopening and he said he was retiring. It is a miserable state of affairs, and so the last of the rice and beans joints vanishes into the ether. We will all miss La Taza de Oro. ” Another said, “Business by business, New York’s individuality and diversity is being erased. And there doesn’t seem to be anyone in a position of power who seriously wants to or is trying to halt this transformation. Not one. ”

 …

Continue reading

Tue 12 2015 , by

5th & MAD

5th & MAD

The bi-level Midtown gastropub takes its cues from Mad Men—of four distinct areas of the behemoth bar, one is a dedicated Draper Room upstairs, fitted with suited mannequins and low-backed armchairs. Beyond that Don-worthy room, there’s a Girls’ Lounge decked out with upholstered chartreuse seats, sprawling oriental rugs and curio cabinets filled with hat boxes and gloves to emulate midcentury-era department stores. Another room is sectioned off with lime-green cabinetry and features pool tables and whimsical Penguin Publishing posters. In the ground-floor common area, a 45-foot black-wood bar offers cocktails by barkeep Justin Andrews, including the A.B.C. Always Be Closing (Bulleit bourbon, prosecco, triple sec) and a vodka-based Get MAD with lime juice and ginger beer. Slide into curved banquettes near the bar for snacks from chef Chase Sanders (Ruschmeyer’s, Nobo Wine & Grill), including beer-braised short-rib sliders on truffle brioche.
ADVERTISING

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Just like our talks we thought we’d keep this snappy:

  • A simple and relaxed evening that’s open to anyone interested in the quirkier side of life
  • Four curated speakers have ten minutes to give insightful, informative and informal presentations
  • Each month is as random as it comes, there are no set themes or topics for the evening.

Since launching in London in May 2013 over 75 speakers have taken to The Greenwich Series stage. We have heard about the possibility of parallel universes from an astronomer, we’ve myth busted the Freemasons and then had a pirate spook us with local ghost stories. Oh and this was all on one night!

 

Next Event

27th October

6.30pm Doors, 7pm Show

Jimmy’s No 43, 43 E 7th St

$5 on the door

*One of this month’s speakers deals with the design revolution of the mid-1960s as it was applied to the NYC subway system.


Jesse Reed

Exploring the hectic tangle of New York’s subway system was once an even more overwhelming task. A mess of signage and designs that varied station to station.

 

Then in the mid 1960’s a design revolution occurred that changed the very look of the Subway itself.

 

Jesse Reed will talk us through the process of designing how the subway’s signage looks and the successful Kickstarter project to bring that design guide back to life.

Continue reading

Photos from Gothamist: Inside The Empty 1960s TWA Building

“This year OHNY opened up the doors to the gorgeous TWA building at JFK Airport, a mid-century time capsule that sits abandoned across from Terminal 5. Over there, you’re reminded of a time when air travel had a bit of dignity and elegance. You could sit down at a sleek bar and drink a dirty martini, instead of waiting on line at Starbucks for a $13 scone. Goddamn it was a beautiful time to be launched 30,000 feet in the air. ”

Only one little problem: back in the day, there was no such thing as a “dirty” (with deliberately added olive juice) martini.  Old-school martinis were made with gin. James Bond was a bit of a rebel asking for one with vodka, shaken, not stirred.

I missed the OHNY tour, but there is hope to see it before it becomes a hotel, according to Gothamist:

“The building is closed to the public, but you can expect more tours like the one at OHNY before it reopens as a hotel. You can also gaze upon it as you depart Terminal 5… but they need to fire whoever put that light pole there.”

 …

Continue reading

Artist Anthony Zito shared this snapshot of an old-style painted sign with the words “Russian Souvenirs” above a crammed-with-goods little shop “Remnants of A Different New York” on his Instagram account. With antiques, everything has a story….it’s got to be even more true for NYC buildings and storefronts which clearly have some age on them. It’s at 227 E. 14th St. Forgotten NY in “Mad About 14th” has some some more pictures and a conversation with the owner-operator. Unfortunately, when I last passed by, the shop was dark, and a “For Rent” sign was in the center of the front window.…

Continue reading

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/nyregion/uncovered-in-a-renovation-a-mural-recalls-the-garment-industrys-heyday.html?emc=edit_ur_20150326&nl=nyregion&nlid=2075420

Photo
A mural by Max Spivak at the base of the 5 Bryant Park office tower in Manhattan includes shapes that appear abstract at first, but closer inspection reveals them to be textile makers’ tools, like a T-square, above the entrance. Credit Michael Appleton for The New York Times

The shadows of West 40th Street had suddenly given way to the sunny glow of the 1950s with the uncovering of an exuberant mosaic mural at the base of the 5 Bryant Park office tower.

The colorful 40-by-18 ½-foot mural, by the noted mosaic artist Max Spivak (1906-1981), was hidden by metal panels intended to give the entrance to the 58-year-old Manhattan building a more modern, corporate look. When the panels were recently removed as part of a renovation project, the mural popped back to life.

But within hours of the publication of this column online Wednesday, large barriers of blue plastic sheets were erected in front of the mural, making it impossible for passers-by — who had enjoyed a clear view of the artwork for almost a week — to see it any longer.

Equity Office, which owns and manages the 34-story tower, said through a spokeswoman that the discovery of the work was “unexpected” and that the mural, which is tucked into an entrance vestibule, would be “covered during the renovation in a way that will preserve it for the future.”

Photo
Mr. Spivak in front of his mural. His family was heartbroken when the cladding went up more than a decade ago, his daughter said. Credit Alex J. Langley/Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Translation: It will not be damaged or destroyed, but it will be clad again.

Mr. Spivak’s work had very little time to win over any new admirers.

“It’s as if the owners moved ahead at high speed to beat all the positive reaction,” said Phyllis Cohen, the director of Adopt-a-Monument/Adopt-a-Mural at the Municipal Art Society. The group helped restore Mr. Spivak’s painted murals at the Astoria branch of the Queens Library and mosaic murals for a Riker’s cafeteria at Broadway and 104th Street.

“The glass mosaic murals from the late 1940s to 1960s are treasures that need to be preserved,” she said.

Mr. Spivak’s daughter, Nora Marvullo, said the family was distressed to learn of the newest barriers. “We were so happy to hear that it had been uncovered,” she said. “We’re such a throwaway society. They would never do that in Greece.”

In Mr. Spivak’s mural, polymorphous forms seem to float with the joyful abandon one associates with the works of Joan Miró. They are made even more scintillating by the glinting of the mosaic tiles, or tesserae. The tiles seem to have been protected from the elements by the cladding that obscured them.

More than an aesthetic delight, however, the mural is a graphic link to history.

Continue reading

Copyright © 2011-2016 Bygone NYC - All Rights Reserved