Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Then and Now: East 58th Street, Manhattan

Then and Now

58th Street at Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, in 1979
58th Street at Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, in 1979. Note the Playboy building in the background.

I found a snapshot of the Playboy Club taken in 1979. This led me to compare East 58th Street at Fifth Avenue in 1979 with 2018. I like to compare the same locations from different eras to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

In the 1979 shot, you can see the Playboy building at the far right. However, that building is gone now and they are looking for new tenants. The Sherry-Netherland Hotel building on the corner built in 1927, of course, is still there, starting the unyielding row of masonry that runs up toward Harlem. That building is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, considering that it is within the Upper East Side Historic District, created in 1981. Of course, the Historic District didn't save the Playboy building, but it didn't have quite the imposing historical presence of the hotel next door.

I like to look for the little details that have stayed the same as well as the buildings. It would not surprise me if those were the same trees standing in Grand Army Plaza, and the stanchion and arm for the traffic lights look suspiciously similar, too. They already had the "Don't Walk" signs in 1979, but that appears to have been replaced with a new one.

While it is almost entirely out of frame in the 1979 photograph, the General Motors Building to the right was there in 1979, having been built in 1968. From 1998 to 2003, future President of the United States Donald Trump and partners owned it. Trump removed the silly sunken plaza in front of the GM Building (which is what everyone calls it) that did nothing for the area and interrupted the smooth level space that extends from the General Motors Building over to the Plaza Hotel. The Plaza (which is what everyone calls it) is out of view to the left (which Trump also owned at one point, but not at the same time as the General Motors Building).

Anyway, that pretty much sums up what you can see in the 1979 shot. While the style of taxis has changed, there they are in both pictures, and, to be honest, it wouldn't phase me at all if one of those 1979 jobs pulled up to give me a lift today - well, aside from the fact that I'm not in New York right now!

This is part of my series of "Then and Now" comparisons. As these photos prove, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Thanks for visiting.

58th Street at Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, in 2018
58th Street at Fifth Avenue, Manhattan ca. 2018 (Google Street View).


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