The Hotel McAlpin was constructed in 1912 on Herald Square, at the corner of Broadway and 34th street in Manhattan, New York City by General Edwin A. McAlpin, son of David Hunter McAlpin. When opened it was the largest hotel in the world. The hotel was designed by the noted architect Frank Mills Andrews (1867–1948). Andrews also was president of the Greeley Square Hotel Company which first operated the hotel.
Construction of the Hotel McAlpin neared completion by the end of 1912 so that the hotel had an open house on 29 December. The largest hotel in the world at the time, The New York Times commented that it was so tall at 25 stories that it “seems isolated from other buildings” Boasting a staff of 1,500, the hotel could accommodate 2,500 guests. It was built at a cost of $13.5 million (nearly 300 million in 2010 dollars). The top floor had a Turkish bath and there were two gender-specific floors; women
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2. There are two buildings in the background left. One has a white chimney structure. The other behind it is slightly taller. What businesses are located (or will shortly be located) in these buildings?
3. What is the distance between the photographer and the white building?
1. May 18, 1940, at 3:40pm
2. White building: The Atlantic Bank Building, now Courtyard by Marriott Taller building: Once the Hotel McAlpin now condos and shops with shops in the ground floor.
3. About 0.2 miles or 1218.41 ft
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Comments from Our Readers
Google driving down 6th Ave. reveals white building on east side of street.
I Googled the exact headline (in quotes) on the newspaper held by the man and it led directly to your photo, except yours had the bottom 5%-10% or so cropped off to hide the very informative caption. (Googling the main parts of the headline did not give the same good results, BTW.)
Google Maps and Street View supplied the rest of the info or leads to it.
***** With the Bryant Park tavern, the Bryant Park hardware and the street sign, finding the location was easy. From there, one just googles** on down the street. It got a little confusing at West 34th, but reverting to the aerial view cleared that up. It was the date that I thought would be troublesome. I thought the vintage of the car in front of the truck would be my only clue, but then the 5 cent malted milk at the Tip Top Luncheonette caught my eye. That was all it took. Of course, now I crave vanilla malt. Going back and looking at the picture now, the headline on the newspaper the man is reading in front of the Tip Top is a good clue, too. But given the choice between Nazis and a malted milk, I’d pick the malted milk every time. [**creative use of language]
***** Google images didn't help. Searching for the News paper headline gave me the picture and date. Today 6th ave. is one way going north. I googled 6th ave. and found that in 1940 it was two way.we are looking south on 6th ave. from the NE corner of W 40 St. Present day New York is different from 1940 New York. I figured the building was between 38 and 37 street. Nothing seemed to have been there in 1940. Then I found www.nysonglines.com That listed the stores and buildings along 6th ave. M&J Trimmings were in the correct block, and had been there since 1938. The 1940 buildings had been razed. The tower on the block was built in 2002. Street width and set backs may have changed.
***** This is really hard. After trying to find the answers using the Valleries Transportation Service (which led me to East Hartford, CT), I read the headline on the newspaper and found the date and place. I typed in the headline and found the date of 5/18/1940.
The buildings are the hard part. I thought the white building was the Atlantic bank 5 blocks away, but that building was built in 1954 (I think). Any hints on how I might discover what the buildings were?
***** What is the distance between the photographer and the white building?
This I really don't know. The distance between the man reading the newspaper and the white building is 5 city blocks (or approx 0.2 to 0.3 miles according to Google Maps). From the photographer is another question which I cannot answer. A telephoto lens was obviously used in this photo, judging from the 'location' of the buildings relative to each other and I don't know enough about the evolution of telephoto lenses to make that calculation. All I can say is 'more than five city blocks'.
***** Enjoyed the challenge today. Lots of great hints in the photo. When I entered "Nazi Army 75 miles from Paris" on Google, the first hit was a page giving the photo date. When I entered "Tip Top Luncheonette," the first hit was a page giving a link to a google street view from today. Just a stroll down the Avenue of the Americas led me to the two buildings. Lotsa fun. Thanks.
***** Colleen, I had fun with this one deciding if the Macy’s or Gimbels or even Herald Square itself were involved. I’m pretty sure Gap wasn’t around in 1940. This is fun.
Clues from the Picture
W 40th & 6th Ave. Street Sign Indicates New York City
Nazi Army 75 Miles from Paris
Googling the headline will give you the date of 20 May 1940
Some readers surfed on TipTop Lunchroom in NYC (Not sure how useful this was.)
Bryant Park Signs Google Maps show that Bryant Park is on the corner of W. 40th & 6th Ave, New York City
Clock on Storefront on far side of street indicates 3:30pm
Identifying the Buildings in the Distance
The man is reading the newspaper is standing on the southwest corner of the intersection of 6th Ave. & 44th St., New York City. The photographer must be facing southwest along 6th Ave.; otherwise Bryant Park would be visible to the right of the photograph. The man would be standing in the park and not in front of a lunchroom.
It's possible to find the building using Google Maps Street View by "driving" down the street and looking for structures that match the ones in the picture.
The white building with the chimney structure is several blocks away.
The southwest corner of 6th Ave and W. 40th St. then and now, looking down 6th Ave.
Driving further down 6th Ave. shows unobstructed view of building. It matches the one in the quiz photo.
The Union Square Hyatt is well underway and the Hotel Chelsea's makeover has gotten started, so where will the one and only Gene Kaufman turn his attention next? To two new Midtown hotels, according to today's Post. They are a Courtyard by Marriott at 960 Sixth Avenue and a SpringHill Suites by Marriott at 25 West 37th Street. That first address has been mentioned around these parts before the 960 Sixth Avenue site sold to
Hidrock Realty in June 2010, at which point its hotel future was still somewhat in doubt. The plans have now firmed up and call for 167 rooms, ground-floor retail, and a "very significant" rooftop bar where Kaufman haters can go to drink away their sorrows. At 25 West 37th Street, the SpringHill Suites will have 173 rooms. Anyone got renders? Well, send 'em over!
Poster in window shows the name Hidrock in the lower left of white area.
Standing in front of 960 6th Ave, and looking down 6th Ave, a building resembling the taller building appears.
Corner of taller building. Street sign shows Broadway & 34th St.
Google Map of intersection. Several shops shown on southeast corner. Address is 1212 6th Ave.
Google Maps gives selected businesses at 1212 6th Ave, NYC:
AG Welding LLC Amba Gem Corporation B V International Inc Beautiful Smiles Dental Associates PC Business Council-Understanding California State Franchise Career Group Inc Coltrin & Associates Diamond Harmony Financial Relations Board fourthFLOOR fashion talent G M Diamonds Inc Gala Resources JDM Import Co Ots Travel Svce Royal Stones Corporation Stratpro Limited Syndicatebleu Wedbush Securities, Inc.
checking into the hotel could reserve a room on the women's only floor and bypass the lobby and check in directly at their own floor. One floor, dubbed the “sleepy 16th” was designed for night workers so that it was kept quiet during the day. It also hosted a travel agency.
The McAlpin hosted what may be the first broadcast from a New York hotel in 1920, by singer Luisa Tetrazzini from her room in the hotel. The Army Signal Corps arranged the broadcast, and later, in 1922, the McAlpin became one of the first hotels to link ship- to-shore radios into their phone system. The hotel would later be the first home of, and give the call letters to, radio station WMCA in 1925.
The hotel underwent an expansion half a decade later. The owners had purchased an additional 50 feet of frontage on 34th street two years early and proceeded to dismantle those properties. The new addition was the same height as the original 25-story building, and was expected to provide an additional 200 rooms, four more elevators, and a large ballroom. A major refurbishment costing $2.1 million was completed in 1928 refreshing the rooms, installing modern bathrooms and updating the elevators.
The McAlpin family sold the hotel in 1938 to Jamlee Hotels, headed by Joseph Levy, president of Crawford Cloths, a prominent real estate investor in New York for $5,400,000. Jamlee reportedly invested an additional $1,760,000 in renovations. During the Jamlee ownership, the hotel was managed by the Knott Hotel Chain until 1952 when management was taken over by Tisch. On 15 October 1954 Jamlee sold the hotel to Sheraton Hotels for $9,000,000 and it was renamed the Sheraton-McAlpin, then later the Sheraton-Atlantic Hotel.
The hotel's Marine Grill was considered one of the more unusual interiors in the city of New York due to "an expansive grotto of polychrome terra cotta designed by the artist Frederick Dana Marsh." The building owner had closed the restaurant and historic preservationists were concerned with the future of the artwork. Their worst fears were realized when Susan Tunick, president of the non-profit group Friends of Terra Cotta, saw dumpsters outside the hotel filled with fragments from the murals. Rescue efforts
Zoom of 34th side of building reveals Herald Towers, Luxury Rentals Address: 50 W. 34th St., Manhattan
Note: Googling "Herald Towers History" will tell you that the Herald Towers apartment building was once the Hotel McAlpin.
were eventually successful when the murals were reassembled under the oversight of the MTA Arts for Transit Program at the William Street entrance to the Fulton Street subway station.
In the late 1970s the building was converted to 700 rental apartments. During the housing bubble, the building attempted to convert to condominiums but ultimately failed. It is currently a rental building known as Herald Towers.
How I almost DIDN"T solve this week's Quiz:
The first question was the easiest. I picked out a few clues:
1. Bryant Park on some of the store signs 2. Street sign w. 40th Street and 6th Ave. 3. Headline on newspaper man was reading which gave a year the photo might have been taken 4. large buildings in the background 5. One-way Street
then I did a Google search (guessing it was probably New York City) "man reading newspaper on street corner New York 1940"
A number of links to the photo popped, one was the New York Municipal Archives photo database (this gave me the date the photo was taken) also several other sites, where it had been used by someone in a Blog and by a UK newspaper in an article about New York.
On to question 2 and that is where I got messed up. I looked at the direction of the One-Way Street and that messed me up when I used the Google Map function, I kept going in the wrong direction and could not find the buildings in the background.
I think the One-Way has been reversed since that 1940 photo.
I eventually figured it out and found a couple of buildings that were good candidates and did a "real estate" search on the street address of one of the buildings.
On to question No. 3. Distances. As I mentioned in my response, I decided the photographer used a telephoto lens which distorted distances and confounded me because he could have been standing WAY back from w 40th and 6th. But I think I was just making the question too difficult, and I couldn't figure out the telephoto factor anyway so I sent in a distance calculation as if there was NO telephoto factor.
I hope I got it right, or close enough, in the end!
It was an absolutely sensational photo, the resolution was fantastic.