Scoops of the Month: Vanishing New York (Mademoiselle, November 1946)
As a Native New Yorker (third generation, born in Brooklyn, and raised in Queens), I have a true fondness for the love and history of my city. When flipping through my archives, I stumbled upon this pretty amazing fashion editorial on "Vanishing New York." Its kind of puzzling to me that there would be a fashion editorial documenting the demise of these places, with models smiling, happy for the "new" New York. Back then gentrification wasn't seen of as the way it is today - preservation and landmarks commissions were unheard of back then.
If you are a New Yorker, you may be familiar with the popular blog of the same name, which has been documenting places of recent memory that are shutting due to the mass gentrification that has been happening in our more recent time. The three areas profiled, the Third Avenue El, Luna Park, and Murray Hill have all transformed in their own way, a lot of it due to gentrification and real estate development in a rapidly changing city.
Due to rampant gentrification, real estate developers saw the noise of the El as an unattractive distraction, so they petitioned first for a reduction in service, but ultimately, for a complete shutdown. By the mid '50s, the Manhattan portion of the El was gone, and real estate values along the line increased, all the while clogging up the Lexington Avenue line underground, and with all those new residents, adequate service to the East Side wouldn't return until the long proposed Second Avenue would open...in 2016.
In Coney Island, Luna Park was a premiere amusement park that dazzled with its lights. Opened in 1903, the park was a success, but being that Coney Island was a major seaside resort town, there was plenty of competition, with many other amusement parks and attractions competing in the area. The Great Depression had put the park on some tough times, taking it into bankruptcy. After a series of fires and a legal battle plagued the park, the land was sold for development into a Mitchell Lama housing development to keep the Luna Park name, which is where my mother grew up and spent her childhood and teen years in the 1950s and '60s. In 2010, a new amusement park opened under the Luna Park name to preserve the legacy...on the old Astroland site.
The Murray Park Hotel was right at the foot of Grand Central Station, at Park Avenue, occupying the entire block between 40th and 41st Streets. The hotel was the only in the country to offer both American and European service, and was known for luxury...and its own series of tragedies throughout its history which plagued the hotel. After a series of new owners and management changes, the hotel was razed in 1947 to make way for a 36-story office building.
Here's the complete article as appeared in Mademoiselle, November 1946.
Scoops of the month: Vanishing New York
The Third Avenue El will be next to go
Over Third Avenue's crowding of antiques and bistros, the wobbly old El is creaking toward its swan song. Joan, however, is just beginning the holiday season in a Mallinson rayon velvet jacket, $10.95, and a softly gathered matching skirt, $10.95. Both, junior sizes. The black velvet helmet, $5. All at Bonwit Teller, New York; Kaufmann, Pittsburgh; Carson's, Chcago. De Rosa jewelry; Smart Set white kid gloves.
Luna Park is doomed for a housing project
In the coming months, the shim-sham elegance of Luna Park's amusement palaces will be replaced by a modern housing project for veterans. Joan views the site in a black wool jersey dress with a bare camisole top and shoestring straps, $14.95, covered for street wear by a wine-white wool jacket, $8.95. By Henry Rosenfeld. The felt cloche by Del Monte, about $8. All at Russeks, New York; Lamson, Toledo. Dawnelle gloves.
The Murray Hill's days are dwindling
Another landmark to go is the carmine-plushed, white-marbled Murray Hill Hotel, hub of the Edwardian social whirl and a haunt of Mark Twain and Diamond Jim Brady. At the foot of the grand staircase in the old lobby, Joan wears a new square-necked top, $8.95, and skirt with draped pockets, $8.95. Both, Marshall Coleman in Princeton Knitting Mills wool jersey, Best. For glitter, Lisner's pin and bracelet.