Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From the Archives: Finding a Bargain under the Gimbels Traverse

In this post, 34SP's archivist Anne Kumer shares some 34th Street history. This post also appears on NYC Circa, Anne's history blog about New York City and its public spaces and buildings.

I LOVE dollar stores, especially Jack's. It's chaotic for sure (I have to be in the mood for an adventure), but there are great deals on a huge variety of merchandise. The first Jack's was opened at 16 East 40th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. In 1994 Jack opened a second store on the first floor of 110 West 32nd Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, and three years later, a closeout retail store called Jack's World, on the 2nd and 3rd floors in the same building. Here is 110 West 32nd Street in 1912 -- it's the middle building with the sexy cornice and Penn Station in the background to the west.

Photo: MCNY
The photo above was taken just after the completion of its neighbor to the west, known then as the Cuyler Building, and later as the Gimbels Administration Building, and even later, as one host to the Gimbels Traverse, or skybridge (more on that later). As for the "Jack's" building -- visible below to the left of the skybridge -- it was probably built in the early 1900s.

Manhattan, West 32nd Street, b/t Sixth Avenue & Seventh

According to  Walter Grutchfield's extremely informative website on New York City wall signs, 14 to 42, the building was occupied by a company called Alliance Press from about 1907 to 1938, and Protective Ventilator Co. from 1910-1916.  In 1916, Willoughby's Camera Stores purchased the building, setting up a much-loved shop on the ground floor. The camera and photography store (one of NYC's oldest) was there until 1994, bringing us full circle to Jack's. Again, 14 to 42 gives a concise history of Willoughby's, so I'm not sure I need to.  I can, via the MCNY photo collection, contribute a Willoughby's window from 1945:

Photo: MCNY


herner said...

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ביטוח מנהלים said...

Oh… can't remember this store I lived in the city for three years walk all around some time I have the feeling that I didn't miss anything but still all the time got to realize that there is something more to explore. Whish I will be able to come again!