Friday, October 23, 2015

34th Street Weekend Picks: Desigual, Gap's Peanuts Collection

Mid-season sale: buy one get the second (equal or lesser value) for 50% off select items in store and online. I am adoring what Desigual is doing these days, so stop by the Herald Square store and try on this Spanish retailer's fabulous prints and pants. 958 Avenue of the Americas (Sixth and 35th Street)


I can't go on enough about Gap's newly-released Peanuts collection for baby and kids. CAN NOT rave enough. I must buy everything with Snoopy and Woodstock on it. Or that refers to Snoopy and Woodstock. OR IS A CHEVRON HOODIE. We really heart Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang in our house. And yes, the movie must be seen as soon as it opens in theaters. My only complaint? We need Lucy, please, because nothing is better when  The Doctor Is In. 60 West 34th Street at Sixth Avenue

Friday, October 16, 2015

From the Archives: "Gentleman Jim" Corbett's on 33rd Street

Today our 34th Street archivist Anne Kumer shares some history of the 34th Street district. This post also appears on NYC Circa.

James "Gentleman Jim" Corbett was the heavyweight boxing champion in 1892. He won the title in the 21st round of a fight with the (so far) undefeated John L. Sullivan. Boxing was still illegal in most U.S. states in the late 1800s; New York State didn't legalize it until 1896, and it wasn't made an Olympic sport until 1904.
James "Gentleman Jim" Corbett, 1910. Image: LOC
Corbett legitimized the sport for many by bringing grace and style to the ring. This, along with sharp dressing and a rumored college education earned him the nickname "Gentleman Jim." He followed his career in boxing with a successful one in stage acting. Sometime in the late 1800s he opened a cafe on Broadway, just north of 33rd Street, and named it Corbett's.

Corbett's on Broadway and 33rd Street looking north, 1900. Image: MCNY
Corbett's fit in well in the neighborhood, then an area full of restaurants, bars, and smaller theaters. Actors and publishers were known to drop by, and it was conveniently located near the elevated Sixth Avenue train.

34th Street, where Sixth Avenue and Broadway meet, with the Corbett's sign on the left, 1901. Image: NYPL
The turn of the century brought big retail to the area, and many of the buildings in the neighborhood were razed to make way for large department stores. Andrew Saks bought the properties on the corner of 34th Street where Sixth Avenue and Broadway meet, including the Corbett's building. Saks built his 34th Street flagship store on that corner in 1901. Gimbels followed one block south with a store in 1910, and in the late 1930s, the elevated train went underground.

Saks 34th Street, 1955. Image: MCNY
Though the 34th district is populated with plenty of bars and restaurants, retail still dominates the streetscape. 
34th at Broadway, 2015. Image: 34SP, Anne Kumer

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

From the Archives: Tammany on 33rd Street

Today our 34th Street archivist Anne Kumer shares some history of the 34th Street district. This post also appears on NYC Circa.

A short distance from Corbett's, on 33rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, in an inconspicuous townhouse, was one of the city's most notorious gambling halls, the House with the Bronze Door. With lavish interiors designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White, and an entrance fortified by a reclaimed 15th century bronze door, the House kept the wealthy in, and unsympathetic lawmakers out. (There were plenty of sympathetic lawmakers at the poker tables too.)
Men playing cards c. 1900. Image: LOC
Players won big and lost bigger in the House's gaming rooms, which included roulette, poker, baccarat. In case of raids, guests could escape through a secret route via an adjoining building. Owner Frank Farrell used the profits from the House with the Bronze Door to fund over 200 other illegal gambling dens throughout the city. He also used the profits to bribe members of law enforcement, most of who belonged to the Tammany Society, a corrupt political machine that controlled city and state politics for decades.

Harper's Weekly cartoon by William A. Rogers showing NYC Chief of Police "Big Bill" Devery collecting "taxes". Image and further explanation: Harp Week

Members of the Tammany Society were widely known to accept and require bribes and selectively enforce laws. Public approval of the organization fluctuated, though its powerlessness in the face of Tammany was recognized by several media outlets. With low rates of literacy, satirical cartoons reached a much wider audience than written diatribes could. It was a winning hand, and they accomplished in part, what Tammany feared the most, exposure to, and criticism from, the public. One of the most notable cartoonists was Thomas Nast of  Harper's Weekly. Throughout his years at the paper, he produced a huge number of sardonic cartoons for the heavily circulated weekly, often showing Tammany as an irate tiger destroying everything in its path.

Harper's Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast, November 11, 1897 showing Tammany tiger mauling democracy (depicted as Columbia with a crushed ballot box by her side) in a Roman Colosseum as Boss Tweed cheers from the stands. Image: OSU

Reformists, such Reverend Charles C. Parkhurst and Jerry McAuley played huge roles in publicizing Tammany's wrongs through well-attended sermons. In 1891 Reverend Parkhurst inaugurated a campaign against Tammany Hall. He gave sermons throughout the city denouncing public officials, and made it his personal mission to shut down all gambling halls. The effort eventually succeeded with the closure of several gaming rooms throughout the city, including the House with the Bronze Door in 1908. The defeat was celebrated in person and in print, though the Tammany Society would continue to operate in some form or other for several more decades.

Reverend Charles C. Parkhurst enjoys a brief victory over Tammany in this cartoon by J.S. Pughe, printed in an 1894 edition of Puck. Image: LOC

Further Reading:
1. Dash, Mike. Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century
2. Halloran, Fiona Deans. Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons
3. Gilfoyle, Timothy. A Pickpocket's Tale
4. Santé, Luc. Low Life

Friday, October 9, 2015

34th Street Weekend Picks: JCPenney, City Streets, and Pandora

Things to look for this weekend at JCPenney: adorable Nicole by Nicole Miller party gear (40% off), pretty MNG by Mango tops (30% off), and this fabulous line called Belle & Sky (40-45% off). Manhattan Mall lower level one, 33rd Street and Sixth Avenue

City Streets
Once you go Birks, you never go back. Now I need a pair in every color. Get the white on white at City Streets on sales for $69 and complete your collection. Also, there are UGG slippers on sale and up to 75 % off select shoe styles. Manhattan Mall ground floor, 33rd Street and Sixth Avenue

Buy two rings, get one free: It's a fabulous ring party at Pandora, and we are all invited. 1284 Broadway between 33rd and 34th Streets

Friday, October 2, 2015

34th Street Weekend Picks: H&M Sale, Skechers Sale, and Uniqlo x Lemaire

Get up to 70% off this weekend at H&M Herald Square, and H&M Herald Square, and H&M 34th Street. I love saying that. Yes, we have TWO H&Ms in Herald Square that sit catty-corner from each other at the 34th Street/Broadway/Sixth bowtie, and one more down the street on 34th and Seventh. The windows at the latter are looking gorgeous, yes? Now go shop one of our three H&Ms on 34th Street and pick up some trendy deals.


I love this sale: buy a pair of shoes and get 30% off a pair of boots. I would so get a nice pair of kicks for my man and then, natch, boots for me. Skechers really gets its shopper. 140 West 34th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue

Uniqlo x Lemaire
Let's not wait on this one. Although RackedNY tells the French label fans to return on Monday for restock and previously only-available-online items, I would not tempt the fabulous collab fates. Stop by this weekend at Herald Square, which RackedNY recommends shopping, check out stock, then return Monday if you think it's worth the hype. And trust me, it's worth the hype. I have big respect for Uniqlo's collabs and this one is a great fit. 31 West 34th Street  between Fifth and Sixth