Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A Drive Down 1951 Wilshire Blvd, LA, in Color

Clean and Pristine, Stark and Beautiful

Wilshire Boulevard, LA, in 1951 randommusings.filminspector.com
Wilshire Boulevard in 1951. You can see a Bank of America sign in the distance. Bank of America has a long history stretching back to 1784, but it acquired its name in 1922 with the formation of Bank of America, Los Angeles. It was considered an "immigrant's bank" for Italians in those days, though that reputation was quickly changing by 1951. Amadeo Pietro Giannini, who basically founded the modern Bank of America, had just passed away in 1949. 

I love peeks into the past that provide a new perspective on things we think we know about. New algorithms and apps enable old films to be enhanced to make them more enjoyable for modern audiences.
This film, restored by NASS on Youtube, shows Los Angeles, California, in 1951. That was an important year for LA because the Jack Webb television series "Dragnet" began that fall and showcased the city and its police department for the next twenty years. This film was likely made to provide background shots for films and television productions and, who knows, may even have been made with Dragnet in mind. We go up and down 1951 Wilshire in Los Angelese a few times but get different perspectives each time.

LA in 1951 movie theater randommusings.filminspector.com
Would you like to go to the movies tonight? That new Richard Widmark picture is playing down on Wilshire.

We know the film is from 1951 because we see two movie marquees. They advertise "The Frogmen," a Richard Widmark film released on 29 June 1951, and "Fugitive Lady," a Janis Paige film filmed in Rome that was released in the U.S. on 15 July 1951. The NY Times called "Fugitive Lady" "meandering claptrap," However, "The Frogmen" fared better, earning two Academy Award nominations. In addition, if you have sharp eyes and know your car history, there are some 1951 models passing by.

Bomb Shelter for $795 randommusings.filminspector.com
Buy a cheap bomb shelter!

The film shows the scenery on Wilshire Boulevard. Do you need a bomb shelter? Get one cheap for the bargain price of $795! The Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb on 29 August 1949, and the fear of a nuclear holocaust permeated the 1950s. The May Company, seen in the background, was founded in Leadville, Colorado, in 1877. It effectively went out of business in 2005-06 when acquired by Federated. We see the La Brea tar pits park before all the development that later occurred around it.

A cafeteria on Wilshire randommusings.filminspector.com
A Cafeteria on Wilshire. Traffic in those days was a bit more lively than it is now, with drivers "taking command of the intersection" as their driving instructors taught them.

Sometimes the things that you don't see are what matter, like in the Sherlock Holmes tale of the dog that didn't bark. Very few, if any, foreign vehicles. The numerous billboards don't feature any scantily clad models. You won't see any McDonald's or Burger Kings fast food joints in this film. McDonald's was founded in 1940 in San Bernardino but did not really expand beyond a few locations until 1955. White Castle predates McDonald's, but there aren't any on Wilshire. Burger King was not founded until 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Coffee Shop on Wilshire randommusings.filminspector.com
A typical coffee shop on Wilshire.

In 1951, you went to a "Coffee Shop" or a "Deli" if you wanted lunch. These were not little, insignificant places off on some side street, either. They were bold, magnificent, and often the centerpiece of the block.

Street scene in LA 1951 randommusings.filminspector.com
So little traffic, you often had the road to yourself. I love the sharp angles and sleek styling in this capture.

If you're a fan of art deco, fastback cars, and empty roads, 1951 Los Angeles was the place to be. Some of the scenes look like they came out of an Edward Hopper painting like "Nighthawks" (1942).

Zoot Suit 1951 LA randmomusings.filminspector.com

Men's fashions were a bit baggier in the 1950s. That fellow in the foreground appears to be wearing a Zoot Suit, though I'm not enough of a fashion expert to be sure. If you needed rust-proof gasoline, Richfield was for you! That fellow in the billboard in the distance could have served as an inspiration for James Bond. Incidentally, Ian Fleming began writing his first Bond novel, "Casino Royale," at Goldeneye in Jamaica not long after this film on 17 February 1952.

Ralphs on Wilshire in 1951 randommusings.filminspector.com
Ralphs on Wilshire in 1951.

You may buy your groceries at Ralphs. Well, that chain has been around since 1873, founded in Los Angeles. It opened its most famous store, in Westwood, in 1929. This one a few miles away is pretty impressive, too. That's a sweet convertible in front of it.

Arthur Murray Dance Studio on Wilshire, LA in 1951 randommusings.filminspector.com
An Arthur Murray Dance Studio on Wilshire. The huge Arthur Murray sign dominated the Wilshire street view for miles.

Imagine driving on empty streets like this through the heart of LA today. Maybe at 3 in the morning, but not in the middle of the day. Oh, and if you want to be in pictures, you'd better know how to dance. There's an Arthur Murray Dance Studio over there if you need some lessons (founded in 1925, though he began a previous business that failed in 1912). Compared to Murray, Fred Astaire was the new kid on the block.

Coffee shop/bakery on Wilshire in 1951 randommusings.filminspector.com

Another coffee shop/bakery on Wilshire, with traffic looking like the wild west. Have some art you want to sell? Put up a folding table and a chair on Wilshire and have at it!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this tour down Wilshire in 1951. It hasn't changed that much, but really it's changed completely from the way it was back then. Just another example of how society marches on and completely remakes itself every few generations. Thanks for stopping by!
2021

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Then and Now: 58th Street at 5th Avenue, NYC

Time Stands Still On Fifth Avenue

58th and 5th 1984 randommusings.filminspector.com
58th and 5th Avenue in NYC, 1984.

Sometimes, things just stay the same. We like to think that everything involving us is new and improved, so much better than, you know, "before." But that isn't true in a lot of ways. We are just continuations of generations before us, adding our own unique style but really not changing the world as much as we might like to think.

I like city views that show how little time can mean to big cities. If you go to many places in Paris or London, they'll be exactly like they were in the 1800s. New York City has some of those spots, too, though they're a bit less common. But sometimes you come across a view that has changed very little in almost 40 years, and that's saying something.

Above we have a view of 58th and 5th Avenue in 1984. If you're a native New Yorker or a longtime resident, you'll recognize the scene instantly even though it isn't taken from a typical tourist vantage point. We're looking south toward the Empire State Building, which you can see pretty clearly in this shot silhouetted against the sky. If you're a film buff, you may recognize this stretch of road as being close to where Audrey Hepburn's taxi brings her to Tiffany's at the start of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1963). That was when traffic still went both ways on Fifth Avenue, which ended in 1966 so that now it only goes south.

Just for fun, let's do a comparison with how this scene looked recently.

58th and 5th June 2019 randommusings.filminspector.com
58th and 5th, looking south, in June 2019 (Google Street View).

While I couldn't get the same precise angle, the above is close enough. It shows a similar view south toward the Empire State Building. Let's pick out the things that are the same and a very few that have changed.

Southeast corner of 58th and 5th, July 2021 randommusings.filminspector.com
58th and 5th, looking east, in June 2019 (Google Street View).

The first thing you will have noticed if you have very sharp eyes is that the business at the extreme left of the 1984 photo (on the southeast corner of 58th Street) was F.A.O. Schwartz. It was an institution in 1984 and it likely seemed it would never close its flagship store on 5th Avenue. You may remember it from "Big" (1988) when Tom Hanks danced on the giant piano. New Yorkers fondly remember it for its annual Christmas displays, one of the highlights of the season.

F.A.O. Schwartz operated at 745 Fifth Avenue, the site shown in the 1984 picture and the one directly above, until 1986. Then, after some mergers and acquisitions that were all the rage in 1986, a new owner moved it across 58th Street to 767 Fifth Avenue, better known as the GM Building. That would be behind and to the left of where the 1984 photographer was standing.

Alas, after numerous ownership changes and a bankruptcy, F.A.O. Schwartz wound up being bought by Toys 'R Us in 2090. That corporation had a lot of problems. So, the flagship store in the GM Building closed down in 2015.

But not to fear! F.A.O. Schwartz reopened its store at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in November 2018. So, we can all still get our holiday fix there.
The GM Building at 767 Fifth Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
The GM Building at 767 Fifth Avenue on the left, with 745 Fifth Avenue at the center-right in August 2021 (Google Street View).

Just to give a little perspective, the above capture shows the two sites of F.A.O. Schwartz on Fifth Avenue. The old site from 1931-1986 is in the center-right, while the 1986-2015 location in the GM Buildings is at the left. Yes, they literally just moved across the street. I personally identify F.A.O. Schwartz as being in the GM Building on the ground floor. It was spacious and had good light. I saw Susan Sarandon, who lives nearby, give some kind of presentation there in 2001. It really was a great location.
Bergdorf Goodman, 58th and 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
58th Street and 5th Avenue, looking southwest, June 2019.

Speaking of Bergdorf Goodman, you probably knew that it was that massive building on the far side of 5th Avenue in the 1984 photo. It has been there since 1928, so its centenary is coming up fast. Now, while it may have seemed like F.A.O. Schwartz was eternal, Bergdorf Goodman on 5th Avenue actually is eternal. It seems that if there's ever, God forbid, a nuclear holocaust, the cockroaches will still go to Bergdorf Goodman to buy their $300 sweaters. Bergdorf opened a men's store across the street (on the east side of 5th Avenue) in 1990 and since has expanded to take over the F.A.O. Schwartz space. 

You may remember Bergdorf Goodman from the film "Arthur" (1981). It was already a long-established presence then. However, Neiman Marcus, which owns Bergdorf Goodman, recently filed for bankruptcy due to the 2020 pandemic, so who knows what the future holds in store for it. Strangely enough, due to numerous corporate transactions, F.A.O. Schwartz, which has recently opened stores in Beijing, London, And Dublin, now is probably more financially sound than Bergdorf Goodman. That's life in the big city.
Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, and Sir John Gielgud in "Arthur" (1981) randommusings.filminspector.com
Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue, in the background of a scene from "Arthur" (1981).

Anyway, so the view of Fifth Avenue south from 58th Street hasn't changed much since 1984 aside from some that. If you go there today, you'll see basically the same view and probably will for decades to come. As I like to say in this series, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and the view south from 58th Street down Fifth Avenue in NYC proves it.
Looking north on Fifth Avenue NYC from 58th Street, 2019 randommusings.filminspector.com
58th Street and 5th Avenue, NYC, looking north in June 2019 (Google Street View).

Before we take our leave of this spot, let's do a 180 and see what that 1984 photographer had his or her back to. That's the Plaza Hotel over on the left (built 1905-07 with many later renovations), Central Park off in the distance in the center (created 1857-76), and The Sherry-Netherland at 781 Fifth Avenue on the right (built 1926-27). Yes, this little corner of the world has been pretty much the same (including the GM Building, built 1964-68) for a long, long time.

Thanks for stopping by! Please visit some of my other pages as we look at how things looked then, and now.

2021

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Monkees Wild Dancing

Swinging Sixties Baby!

Monkees wild dancing randommusings.filminspector.com
Outta sight!
I like to post odd stuff on this site that pleases me for whatever wild reason. There's no deep thought involved. Basically, things pop up here just because they do. As the title says, if it pleases me, maybe you'll find it humorous, too. Yes, this is self-indulgent to the X Factor, but I've found that these pages can be surprisingly popular with my eclectic audience.

Yes, this page is going to take an ungodly amount of time to load. Sorry about that, modern technology is on it, it's ON it!

Today, I present to you: Monkees wild dancing!
Monkees wild dancing randommusings.filminspector.com
Who were the Monkees? Well, if you didn't know that, you likely wouldn't be here in the first place. But, okay, here you go, but you can skip this video if you know who they are.
In brief, the Monkees were a band put together by a guy named Don Kirshner for a television show in the mid-'60s. They started as a sort of joke but eventually became a real band with real hits. Sort of like a boy band of the '60s. Like, oh, Justin Timberlake's old band, I suppose. Oh, wait, some of you probably weren't born in the '90s, either. Okay... well, they were like rappers. But they didn't rap! Well, maybe Peter Tork did occasionally. See how original they were!
Monkees wild dancing randommusings.filminspector.com
So, who are the dancers in these clips from "The Monkees"? Darned if I know. You're not supposed to know who they are. If you do know, you're one in a million.
Monkees wild dancing randommusings.filminspector.com
I don't know how you'd characterize this page. If you want to think of it as a Monkees tribute page, that's fine by me. If you want to think of it as an ode to Swinging Sixties dancing, okay then. Or maybe it's all about ... Davy Jones.
Monkees wild dancing randommusings.filminspector.com
Oh, noes! Love has entered the room! Icksnay!
Monkees wild dancing randommusings.filminspector.com
By now, you're probably wondering, what was the point of this? Well, here's your answer: there is no point! I just like wild sixties dancing and the Monkees! Yes! That's it!

I guess either you get it or you don't get it. If you don't get it, I sincerely apologize. If you do... you're welcome!

Thanks for stopping by, and consider watching some of my other pointless dancing videos that you can find over there on the right if you're on a desktop! The one with the Hang On Sloopy girl is loads of fun.
Monkees wild dancing randommusings.filminspector.com

2021

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Then and Now: First Avenue's Downtown Beirut

Gone But Not Forgotten

Downtown Beirut ca. 1987 randommusings.filmiinspector.com
First Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Streets, ca. 1987.
The East Village was one of the most eccentric spots in Manhattan in the 1980s. It was run-down, abandoned buildings were everywhere, and it was a lot of fun. It's been gentrifying slowly but surely ever since, but it's nice to reflect on the days when it still resembled the Wild, Wild West.

To an out-of-towner or pretty much anyone unfamiliar with the ways of the East Village, the above street scene probably seems fairly mundane. A bunch of ratty shops in some ancient tenement, long gone and long forgotten.

To people who do know a thing or two about New York City and the East Village, they know exactly why this photo was taken.

Downtown Beirut!

We're going to do a quick then-and-now of First Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets, NYC.
Downtown Beirut, NYC, 1980s randmomusings;filminspector.com
Downtown Beirut, NYC, the 1980s.
What was Downtown Beirut? A bar in Manhattan. You can describe it in various ways, but probably the most accurate is that it was a classic dive.
Downtown Beirut, NYC, 1981 randmomusings;filminspector.com
First Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Streets, ca. 1981.
As a dive, Downtown Beirut had a lot of company. Some of its peers were Hogs and Heifers in the Meatpacking District (1992-2015 RIP), Scrap Bar, Union Square’s bar/restaurant the Coffee Shop (1990-2015 RIP), and, well, I could go on for a while. But this isn't about them, it's about Downtown Beirut.
NIGHT AT DOWNTOWN BEIRUT, video by Mike Enright
A long city block from Tompkins Square Park, Downtown Beirut acquired an offbeat reputation. If you stayed late enough, some girls in halter tops and boots might get up and dance on the bar. The jukebox was renowned for having a great selection of tunes you were pretty unlikely to hear elsewhere. Want to play some pinball at 2 a.m.? Downtown Beirut was your spot.
Downtown Beirut, NYC, ca. 1990 randommusings.filminspector.com
Downtown Beirut, NYC, ca. 1990.
For such a quirky East Village dive, a lot of people still remember Downtown Beirut fondly. For instance, it was featured in "Come Here Often?: 53 Writers Raise a Glass to Their Favorite Bar" by Elissa Schappell. Mike Enright made a video about it. The New York Times included it in a 2012 list of "Manhattan's Most Mourned Bars." When you start poking around on the Internet looking for beloved New York bars of the past, "Downtown Beirut" always seems to pop up. That's no small feat considering the thousands of little hole-in-the-wall joints that come and go in the Big Apple.
Downtown Beirut, NYC, ca. 1990 randommusings.filminspector.com
It's 3.a.m., do you know where your children are? A clip from a deleted scene from "Night At Downtown Beirut," video by Mike Enright
Unless you've lived in New York, you might not understand how these neighborhood joints served a need. The heavy metal crowd could hang out together at Scrap Bar, the models could sit at Coffee Shop's amazing bar and hold court and then walk over to a table and have some grilled shark (it's very salty), and the punk crowd could spend a few hours at Downtown Beirut. It wasn't that far from CBGB, you could catch Patti Smith and then walk over and play something on the jukebox. It was nice to have a place to just be among like-minded folks and maybe all sing "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" together in July just because you could. Why? Well, if you have to ask... 
First Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets, NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
First Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Streets, June 2019 (Google Street View).
Well, New York buildings are eternal, especially in the East Village. The building was built in 1920, so it just celebrated its centenary. Yay 2020! It will probably still be there in 2120, too, because those old buildings never go away. It's what gives New York its charm.
Downtown Beirut, NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
The best jukebox in town! Downtown Beirut.
As you can see above, "Downtown Beirut" is no longer with us. It closed in 1994 around the time of Rudy Giuliani's election as mayor. That location now houses "Yu's On First," where you can get a nice back and foot rub. If you go to Yu's Facebook page, it tells you that "We Believe Massage Is the Way to Physical Relaxation." Downtown Beirut did the same thing, in its own way. So, as we like to say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I hope you enjoyed this random walk through the East Village. Please visit some of our other pages!

2021

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Then and Now: A Random Drive Down 5th Avenue

Driving Through the Past

Park & Tilford, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
East 57th Street, New York City, in 1938. Home to a Park & Tilford grocery store.
Let's take a drive down Fifth Avenue! Well, not today's Fifth Avenue, but Fifth Avenue almost a century ago. 

Fifth Avenue in New York is one of the priciest stretches of real estate in the world. But just how much has it changed? I decided to look over this video of a drive down Fifth Avenue ca. 1938, late in the Great Depression at a time when plenty of poverty and wealth coexisted in close confines. Using it, let's compare this 1938 video of Fifth Avenue to recent times.
Tiffany & Co., 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
You may know the old Park and Tilford location better as its 1940 replacement, Tiffany & Co.
The video shows both sides of Fifth Avenue. First, we'll look at the west side bordering Central Park and down into the commercial area, and then the East Side. Down to around East 60th Street, Fifth Avenue was and is primarily residential. Some of the scenes from 1938 surprised me, but a lot more look awfully familiar.


Time to get oriented. The video shows (apparently one vehicle shot this while rolling three cameras in different directions) three views from Fifth Avenue. One camera shows the western side, another a central view, and the third shows the eastern side of the avenue.

Start with the camera facing directly north ca. East 75th Street:

East 74th 0:22
East 73rd 03:34
East 72nd 0:45
East 71st 0:55
East 70th 01:05
East 69th 01:33
East 68th 01:47
East 67th 01:50
East 66th 01:58
East 65th 02:08
East 64th 02:16
East 63rd 02:26
East 62nd 02:58
East 61st 03:09
East 60th 03:16
East 59th 03:28 (Central Park South)
East 58th 03:39
End ca. East 57th

Switch at 03:49, west side of Fifth Avenue

65th Street 04:30
64th Street 04:42
West 60th 05:27
West 59th 05:38
West 58th 05:46
West 57th: 06:00
06:12 I believe that big maroon car is a Packard ca. 1937.
West 54th 06:26

Switch to the east side of Fifth at 06:52. Start just south of East 74th Street.

East 73rd Street at 06:56
East 72nd Street 07:14
East 71st Street 07:23
East 70th Street  07:30
East 69th Street 07:37
East 68th Street 07:44
East 67th Street 07:53
East 66th Street 08:18
East 65th Street 08:26
East 64th Street 08:33
East 63rd Street 08:42
East 62nd Street 08:49
East 61st Street 08:56
East 60th Street 09:32
Park & Tilford Grocer at 57th Street 10:00
E.M. Gattle & Co. Jewelers at East 55th in St. Regis  10:16 (Gattle closed in 1940).

Okay, let's look at a few specific scenes and see how they've changed.
75th Street randomusings.filminspector.com
Looking north at 75th Street, 1938.
At the very start of the video, looking north from around 75th Street, is a typical residential neighborhood. The comparison with how it looks recently is going to be a common theme in our review.
75th Street randomusings.filminspector.com
Looking north at 75th Street, May 2019 (Google Street View).
Well, well, what do you know. It hasn't changed much at all. That apartment building on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue hasn't changed at all (the corner building is 1 East 75th  Street, and the one beyond is 944 Fifth Avenue). That's Manhattan, folks, in the residential areas you could go over 100 years without seeing much difference.

All right let's look at another spot. This time, we'll look at the corner of East 60th Street.
60th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
East 60th Street in 1938.
Okay, let's see what has changed in 80 years.
60th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
East 60th Street in June 2019 (Google Street View).
Well, it doesn't look like much has changed at all. That building on the northeast corner of 60 Street is the Metropolitan Club at One East 60th Street. It's had some renovations and facelifts over the years, but it's the same building that it has been since 1893. That's not likely to change anytime soon, either.

Let's move down by Grand Army Plaza.
58th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
Looking north from 58th Street in 1938.
Now, this time we do have a noticeable change.
58th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
Looking north from 58th Street in June 2019.
The most obvious change is that now we can clearly see the Sherry-Nederland. It was built in 1927, and during the 1930s it was obscured by a wall of sandstone buildings. Now, that entire block of buildings is gone, replaced in 1968 by the General Motors Building and its plaza at 767 Fifth Avenue.

Let's just say that I'm not a big fan of razing all those classic old buildings between 58th and 59th Streets and replacing them with... that. The pointless plaza on the right destroys the effect of Grand Army Plaza on the left, which somewhat resembled an old town square when it was hemmed in on three sides. Now, it's just another open space.

Moving along, let's take a closer look at Central Park. While it may seem like it's just a big, you know, park, there actually are quite a few buildings in it.
The Arsenal, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
The Arsenal in 1938.
Well, that's certainly an old, castle-looking building. It sure looks spooky! Let's see if anything's left of it.
The Arsenal, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
The Arsenal in May 2019 (Google Street View).
Well, there it is! Well, obscured by trees, but trust me, it's all there.

There's actually a debate about how many buildings should be allowed in Central Park. The city could make quite a bundle, for instance by allowing in some fast-food restaurants there. They'd make a killing, too, because there are tons of hungry joggers and walkers and sunbathers in the Park all the time. However, so far those efforts have been resisted by people who think a park should be a park and not an open-air food court.

But the Arsenal at 64th Street has a unique claim to being in Central Park because it was there before there even was a Central Park. It was built in 1847-51 to be a, well, an arsenal. They designed Central Park around the Arsenal, and there is stays. Fortunately, they build such buildings to last back in the old days, and there are more of them remaining than you might think (such as the Archive Building in Greenwich Building). Anyway, the Arsenal was there in 1851, it was there in 1938, it was there in 2019, and it's likely to be there in 2200, too. It houses the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the nearby Central Park Zoo. If you want to reserve a ballfield or a tennis court, that's where you go.
57th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
Looking north toward 57th Street in 1938.
Fifth Avenue at 57th Street is one of the most desirable retail areas in the world. Judging from the 1938 scene, it was pretty fancy back in the day, too. The stately maroon car, incidentally, appears to be a 1937 Packard (correct me if I'm wrong).
57th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
Looking north toward 57th Street in June 2019.
Well, the look of this block obviously has changed quite a bit. That happens in retail sections of the city. However, in the 1938 photo, look on the other side of the street (57th Street Street). That building hasn't changed much at all. It is the Beaux-Arts style Bergdorf Goodman Building that was built in 1928. Now, if this video had been taken about a dozen years earlier, you would have seen the glorious Cornelius Vanderbilt II House. That is considered a long-lost treasure of New York architecture. But... the Bergdorf Goodman building is pretty memorable, too, and it's likely to be there for quite a while longer despite the 2020 bankruptcy of its parent company, Neiman Marcus.

Not everything was peaches and cream in 1938 despite all the fancy Phaetons and other signs of conspicuous consumption. The Great Depression was still in effect. Let's look at a subtle sign of it in our video.
73rd Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
East 73rd Street in 1938.
The photo above shows a lovely Brownstone mansion that has seen better days. Those closed-off windows suggest that it has been abandoned and likely is slated for demolition. It's not the only one we see on our 1938 drive, either. I didn't hold out much hope that I would see it still there recently.
73rd Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
East 73rd Street in May 2019 (Google Street View).
Well, the brownstone is long gone, along so with many others. In its place is 923 Fifth Avenue built in 1950 and converted to condominiums in 1983. Can you imagine a boarded-up building at 73rd Street and 5th Avenue these days? Those were some hard times.

Let's look at an interesting edifice.
70th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
70th Street in 1938.
This wasn't one of your typical Upper East Side mansions of the 1930s. Let's see if it is still there.
70th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
70th Street in June 2019.
Well, there it still is! That's the Lenox Library, completed in 1877 by James Lenox to house his personal book collection. The Lenox Library was old already in 1938, it's still around, and it's still housing those books from James' personal stash.

Let's look at something a little different.
East 66th Street, Fifth Avenue, NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
Northeast corner of 66th Street in 1938.
There's an empty lot on the northeast corner of 66th Street and 5th Avenue, and there doesn't seem to be any work going on there. What gives? Let's find out what happened to that lot.
East 66th Street, Fifth Avenue, NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
We have the right place. The reason we can be certain is that the small building to the north (on the left) is still there, with its distinctive pointed window casings.

That empty lot turned into 1 East 66th Street. It's a pricey coop, you'd better have a couple of million dollars in cash lying around if you want to live there. It was designed by Rosario Candela and completed in the late 1940s.

I haven't been able to find a reason why the lot was empty in the 1930s and not filled for a full decade ca. 1947-49. Perhaps the war intervened? Or, it being New York, maybe the parcel was in litigation the entire time. In any event, building there made a definite improvement over a construction zone.
55th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
55th Street in 1938.
Finally, just as the video fades out, the driver makes it down to 55th Street. That is the location of the St. Regis Hotel, one of the grand hotels of Manhattan. These retailers lease their space from the St. Regis hotel. As can be seen, in 1938 we can see two of those retailers on the southeast corner of 55th Street,  E.M. Gattle & Co. Jewelers and Kayser Hosiery.
55th Street, 5th Avenue NYC randommusings.filminspector.com
55th Street in June 2019.
Today, E.M. Gattle is long gone (it closed its doors in 1940). Kayser, on the other hand, is still in business as Kayser-Roth, though it long ago left its space in the St. Regis. Replacing them is Harry Winston, a top jeweler. As we like to say here, the more things change, the more they stay the same...

I hope you enjoyed this walk, er, drive down memory lane. If you did, please visit some more of our pages!

2021