Lost New York – What’s Gone Forever

If you should ever hit New York
Be sure to see the Hippodrome…

It ain’t there anymore
Aida sang an “A”
And blew the place away! – On the Town

In the 1949 MGM Musical, On the Town, three sailors on leave in New York want to take in the sights. One is shocked when the landmarks he wants to see, like the Hippodrome, are gone. Opened in 1905, The Hippodrome had a seating capacity of 5,300 and once hosted spectacles and musical events. The venue fell out of fashion and was closed in 1939. An office building, named The Hippodrome Center, was built on the site in 1952.

The Hippodrome (photo above) is one of many famous landmarks celebrated in The New-York Historical Society’s exhibit, Lost New York. For some, it will be a walk down memory lane, a time to mourn what is gone forever. For others, the exhibit could serve as a call to arms for saving what we can before it’s too late. And there are a few lost sights that we can be glad are gone.

Here are the highlights:

The Original Federal Hall

Designed by the Italian engineer, architect, and historian, Giuseppe Guidicini, the Original Federal Hall is where President George Washington took the oath of office to become president of the newly borne United States. The building was demolished in 1812. In its place now stands the Federal Hall National Memorial.

The Original Yankee Stadium

“The House that Ruth Built,” named after Yankee slugger Babe Ruth, opened in 1923, was closed in 2008, and demolished in 2009. The site has been converted into a public park called Heritage Field. While the new Yankee Stadium is terrific, some longtime fans still miss the original stadium which had a storied history.

Klein’s Lunch Counter

A watercolor by Theresa Bernstein (1890-2002) shows the lunch counter at S. Klein’s department store in Union Square. There’s a story behind this watercolor. From the museum’s notes: “While New York State’s 1895 Civil Rights Act entitled all residents to full and equal accommodations in the public sphere, discrimination proved difficult to enforce. The way Bernstein presents this scene of Jim Crow-era racial integration – as an ordinary part of everyday life – gives it an edge.”

21 Club

This popular restaurant is a recent loss, suffering a drop in business after the pandemic. Known for its ornamental jockeys that guarded the entrance, to its signature red and white checked tablecloths, the 21 Club had a loyal fan base of high-profile patrons. It first opened in 1930 as a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Alongside the photo of the entrance, the museum has included Al Hirschfeld’s 1953 “A Night at the `21’ Club,” capturing the many famous people who once frequented the eatery.

Bullet Space Photos

New York has always been known for fostering art in unusual places. In 1985, artist-squatters took over an abandoned building in Manhattan’s Alphabet City. After the 1988 Tompkins Square Park Riot, where protestors supporting a tent city clashed with police, the Bullet Space poster project – Your House Is Mine – was born, with the posters displayed on the building.

Seneca Village

Despite the popularity of Central Park, something was lost – Seneca Village, “a largely middle-class Black community [that] offered its residents refuge from the pervasive racism and overcrowding of New York.” Henry Carl Hauser’s “New York Central Park and City,” juxtaposes a winter scene in the park with the opulent buildings on Central Park West, including the Dakota.  

Central Park Hooverville

Another scene in Central Park, the many shacks constructed by those out of work using whatever materials they could find. The gathering quickly was dubbed “Central Park Hooverville” after President Herbert Hoover, blamed for The Great Depression. Once again, we see the grand buildings on Central Park West looming over these ramshackle structures. 

Faux Windows

Remember these? Anyone driving along a highway in New York during the 1980s couldn’t’t miss these “faux” windows meant to hid the fact that a housing crisis had caused many New Yorkers to be displaced, leaving apartment buildings empty. A coverup that never dealt with the actual problem.

New York Magazine Cover

A cover of New York Magazine bid farewell to many buildings lost in the city. See which ones you can identify.

Lost New York
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at 77th Street

Photos by Woman Around Town

About Charlene Giannetti (716 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.