Mittwoch, 13. Oktober 2010

Part 2 - First World Building and Potter Building

It was at the fantastic nyc-architecture website, when I first read about the New York World Building (1890). Such a amazing gone building! And because there were no other informations in the internet I always thought, the 1890s World Building was the first building in New York City with this name.

While collecting pictures in last February for a longer portrait of the World Building at my own German website I suddenly found a picture with this description:

Oh - there has been another earlier World Building! But where? The French's Hotel stood on the Park Row / Frankfort Streets lot, where the 1890s World Building was constructed. So the first World Building must have been on another place. After checking a lot of pictures, especially those of the Park Row Fire 1882, I found the place of the old World Building. Now I will lead you to this place, step by step.

We start with some stereo cards from the 1860s to get a feeling of the old times at the Park Row.

Remember the first picture of part one, the 1816 picture? The next photo must have been taken nearly from the same place while watching in the same direction.

1865 - from north to south. On the right side is the City Hall Park, topped by the tower of the St. Paul's Chapel. There is a new impressing building at the left center of the picture. The "Brick Presbyterian Church", before on that lot, was torn down in 1856.

The New York Times was founded in 1851, first newspapers were published in September 1851. After three years the Times took place in another building on Nassau Street.

Soon the Times needed more space again and decided to leave the Nassau Street and build a new house at the Park Row. The third Times Building appeared on the lot of the Brick Church in 1857.

The New York Songlines told me, that the first World Building, also named "Potter Building" had been the directly south neighbour of the Times Building:

"Potter's earlier building, completed in 1857, was known as the World Building, after the New York World which was based there. (This was before Joseph Pulitzer bought the paper.) It also housed the offices of Scientific American, where on December 7, 1877, Thomas Edison gave the first public demonstration of his phonograph. N.G. Starkweather extensively used terra cotta detail, helping to popularize the material for office buildings; Potter later launched the New York Press."

Before we start searching for pictures, I try to explain all the old and new houses again.

There is the lot at the corner Park Row / Frankfort Street.
Here stood the French's Hotel and after that the 1890's World Building.

There is the Park Row lot south of the second Times Building:
Here stood the old World Building (1857), also named "Potter Building".
After it burned down in 1882, there was erected a new building,
the better known present "Potter Building", covered in red terracotta.

Ok? Good, now we keep on searching for a better look on the old World Building.

I don't know the date of this picture, but it's possible to get a first impression of the early World Building. I don't know the name of the two buildings on the total left, the third one is the old building of the Tribune. In the middle left background the building of the Tract Society and in the middle the new building of the New York Times (1857). The next building, the south neighboor, is the old World Building. It had a flag pole and a flat roof. There are 5 stories, separeted by some kind of lighter ornaments ("white stripes") but nothing more memorable. The last house in the right background may be the building of the Evening Mail.

It seems, that the old World Building wasn't spectacular enough to get the photographers attention like the other buildings around. The picture above was taken 1875. We identify the old post office on the right side, which was opened in 1875 too. I' m not really sure about the building with the small tower shown in the middle background. I think, it's the Western Union Building on corner Broadway / Dey Street and also finished in 1875. The two buldings left on the "island" are the New York Times building in the foreground and the early World Building behind that (the one with the "white stripes").

Same problem on the next picture (date unknown): The New York Times Building detailed in the foreground, the old World Building at the borders of the picture, viewable only a small stripe, the rest cutted.

So I was really lucky after finding this picture from the 1870s, which gives an real impression of the old World / Potter Building for the first time:

On the total left the old Tribune Building, not as spectacular as the later versions. Next to it on the other side of the road the Building of the Tract Society. Next building left - we are on the "island" again now - is the New York Times Building and then on the right side of the picture the "World Building" (1857). On the total right a part of the "Evening Mail"-Building. That's why this area was nicknamed "Newspaper Row".

I would like to know, if the big WORLD sign on the roof was there in reality or only added by the one who made this scetch. The other signs on the house front tell you, that the "Scientific American" and the "Observer" also took place in the building. Since I finished my text in German language last March, there was no other picture of the first World Building. Until now. One of the visitors of my German blog send me this Stereo Card last week with a rare view, showing the complete old World Building. Thank you so much Andy Frieder.

A few hours after finishing the text of Part 2, I just found another really good picture of the first World Building, shot in the time of the years 1865-1870:

I think, the house on the total left is the French's Hotel, the later side of the famous second "World Building". Next house is the new building of "The Sun". Then - this time a small stripe - the Times Building. The structure in the middle is the old World Building again. Next building in right direction on the other side of the street is the Evening Mail Building. I dont't know the name of the house on the total right, but a sign tells about the "Real Estate Agency" beeing inside. 

Sources: Google and friends, NYPL Digital Gallery, NY Songlines, nyc-architecture, Andy Frieder

Part 3
The Park Row Fire


  1. Hello,
    I'm french; so I hope you will pardon my bad english
    Ich habe Deutch gelernt aber habe ich keiner gelegenheit Deutsch zu sprechen; so habe ich viele wörte vergessen!
    Thanks for all these comments and pictures; it's really interesting to see the evolution of this place and the buildings since the first world building.
    What a pity to see the last picture
    You write you discovered the first world building at the nyc architecture website; didn't you read the novel from Jack FINNEY "Time and again"?
    It's a really good novel, published in 1970, about time travel in which the "time traveller" step into New-York in January 1882
    Read it!

    Kind regards


  2. Hello Philippe, thanks for your Mail and sorry sorry sorry that it took so long for answering. Pardon about my bad English too, my mothers tongue is German, but I am not able to speak french, so this is the language, we can talk to each other.

    No I haven't read the "Time Traveller", but what you wrote sounds really interesting, so it seems I have to look out for it. Thanks for letting me know.


    1. Hello Schaedel,

      Sorry, it's me who take a long time to answer.
      Did you read it? The english tittle is "Time and again" and "Von Zeit zu Zeit" in german.
      I didn't know this book until I read the Stephen King novel "11/22/63"; in the epilogue, he write that "Time and again" is, for him, the best book about "time travel".
      "11/22/63" was the first book of Stephen King I read: it's really interesting to step into the sixties life in the USA, especially Dallas in 1963.
      Kind regards


    2. Hello Philippe,

      no problem, sometimes answers need more time, sometimes less :-)

      No, I haven't read the book, but after I read, I did some research with the informations you have shared and it really seems to be really interesting. I also checked, if the book is available there, but the german version was only possible to buy for a price beyond 35,- Euro for a used paperback.

      But now I just had a look there again and now there are low price versions available. I think I will buy one and let the book surprise me.

      Did you also read other books from the writer? It seems he published more than one story about time travelling or similar things.

      I have heard about the Stephen King-Book too and nearly buyed an audio book version of it in a shop, but it was mp3, not playable in my oldschool car cd-player. So I have to watch out for another chance.

      I also liked this kind of time travelling in his stories, especially in "It" or in "Stand by me", with focus on the 1950s, but also on earlier decades and centuries.

      I build a small posting on my German blog about the book. Thanks for sharing:


  3. Jack Finney's "Time and Again" is an excellent book. Interesting concept of time travel, fun story, and information about the World Building and fire. :)

  4. Hi Philippe, hi Jenna, after reading "Time and again", which was a fantastic book (!!!), I started writing about the books locations. First part is online now here (or use link on Start page of the blog)

    1. Hello Schaedel, Hi Jenna,
      Noch einmal... sorry for my bad english; I read it easely but write it badly.
      I've just finished to read your Time and again blog's three parts: fantastic job; a kind of time travel; you write it in german: I don't understand very good all the sentences but "ziemlich gut"
      I'm honored to be the "französicher Besucher meines englishsprachigen Blogs über das World Building"!
      After reading Time and Again, I tried simply to find on google maps some of the buildings.
      Für mich auch, war das eines der besten Bücher die ich in den vergangenen Jahren gelesen habe.
      You made a great job
      Are you an Historian?
      Read you later

  5. Hi Philippe, thank you, thank you, thank you. You was the one, who gave me the initial inspiration for that "work" so thank you again. Part 4 is online now. I am not a historian, my job is something completely different. But this kind of internet archeology is my hobby, I like this way of time travelling. By the way, ich finde Dein Deutsch gar nicht so schlecht. :-) Du solltest mal mein Französisch lesen.

  6. Hello Schaedel,
    Sorry for having take so long time before answering: I was very busy with my job and my childrens who have left home last month for study (after "das Abitur").
    Yesterday I thought about you:
    I read an article in the Time about the death of David Greenglass
    Who was he?
    He was Ethel Rosenberg 's brother.
    Ethel and her husband Julius Rosenberg were executed in NewYork in 1953 after being convinced of espionage activities; they were accused of giving nuclear secrets to Soviet Union.
    In the Time's article, Sam Roberts, a New York Times correspondent and also the author of "The Brother: The untold story of the Rosenberg Case" explains that David Greenglass confessed he implicated his sister Ethel and her husband Julius to spare himself and his wife (they were also implicated); if Julius seems to have been really a spy for Soviet Union, it seems that his wife's role was minor; his brother, indirectly, killed her.
    I discovered a part of this story I didn't know and so I tried to get more informations.
    I found (thanks Google!) the trial's transcription.
    Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were living 10 Monroe Street
    In may our june 1950, they went with their two children to visit a photographer Ben Schneider to get passport photos; his place of business was 99 Park Row
    Ben Schneider was witness for the prosecution and this fact (to get passport photos) was very important for the prosecution who accused them to have planned to flee the country.
    May be it's not old enough for your "internet archeology" but I thought this story could interest you.

  7. I just found this blog while looking up some information about the World Building from the novel "Time and Again". I read this novel years ago and it's one of my favorites. Reading it again now and comparing NYC with the one from another novel "The Alienist". The second book mentions much of the same architecture as Time and Again, and it made me look for pictures of the World Building. Your blog is fantastic! Thanks for writing it!

  8. In case it helps. BTW, I think the "Evening Mail" building was the former Lovejoy's Hotel, which converted to offices in 1870.