201 East 57th Meets The Black Shroud Of Death

(L) A couple of months ago with wrap ad, to (R) the black shroud of death.

In an area bereft of character, it has been an ugly and slow death for the classic double wide brownstone on the north east corner of 57th Street and 3rd Avenue. Built in 1874 by John Davidson, the building was multi-purpose, housing a bank that he help found, the Manufacturers And Builders Bank, as well as apartment houses. Back then, Third Avenue was quickly becoming the center of the East Side with a surface horse car line and location just off the old post road. The past few years have seen neglect, a slow emptying of the stores, a few months with hideous Western Union wrap advertising, and finally now, the black shroud of death. Demolition has been approved, and a 4 story glass box is rumored to be planned for the site. While I fully recognize that progress happens and preservation is sometimes overrated, it is senseless to remove a valuable and esthetically pleasing link to the past with a simple glass box of the same size. We are quickly trading our identity as a great city with an incredible past for soulless structures that can be found anywhere. In this case, history should be honored, not simply erased.
A special thanks to the Wired forum that inspired the follow up.
Previously, Wall Of Shame: 95 Foot Ad Smothers Building At 57th And Third (A. Fine Blog 4/2009)
Streetscapes: A Startling Survivor In Area Of Change (NY Times, 2005)
Wired Forum: 201 East 57th Street (Wired NY)


  1. I agree.

    While at street level, the building is not pleasing, it would be great to modernize the street level experience and carve out and modernize the existing interiors while preserving the over-all exterior look (at least of the higher residential portion).

  2. I totally agree with your comments. The exterior of the building was bygone years' charm. I usually walk around NY and admire many of the older buildings' facades. Now, we will lose yet another once charming building only to be replaced with another boring steel and glass structure to stare at. We are ALL the losers.


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