Sniffen Court, a flagstone-paved alley consisting of ten brick stables built in the 1850s, is located in the Murray Hill Historic District on 36th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues. Originally commissioned by local builder John Sniffen, the quaint buildings in the early Romanesque Revival style, were converted to private townhouses in the 1920s, with a studio on the south end and The Amateur Comedy Club on the north end. The private courtyard is gated and locked providing a peaceful and charming oasis in mid-town Manhattan.
Cafe des Artistes
Café des Artistes was located in the lobby of Hotel des Artistes at 1 West Sixty-seventh Street, a part Gothic, part Tudor revival co-op building that originally opened as artists’ studios. The restaurant, opening in 1917, had been a favorite of many artists of all genres, from Marcel Duchamp to Isadora Duncan. In 1975, George Lang, a successful and highly respected restaurateur, re-created the café in the tradition of a warm, middle-European coffeehouse. Although a major renovation, the alterations were not drastic, and the restaurant still invoked an enchanting, old-world elegance. An obvious improvement was the restored and properly lit murals, painted in 1932 by Howard Chandler Christy: thirty six flirtatious nudes inspired by the all-American Gibson Girl of the 1900s. The café remained a popular New York gathering spot for Upper West Side residents and a new crowd of celebrities, including Paul Newman, Rudolph Nureyev, Itzhak Perlman and Leonard Bernstein until the closing in August, 2009.
Angel of the Waters
Angel of the Waters is an eight-foot bronze sculpture designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868, the first woman to receive a public commission for a major work of art in New York City. Unveiled in 1873, it was the only sculpture commissioned during the original design of Central Park. The statue depicts a female winged angel touching down upon the top of Bethesda Fountain. Stebbins designed the statue to celebrate the Croton Aqueduct, opened in 1842, that provided fresh water to the city that had been plagued by infectious diseases from polluted waters. Thus, the angel carries a lily in one hand, representing purity, and with the other hand she blesses the water. At the dedication, the brochure quoted a verse from the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 5:2-4: “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called….Bethesda….whoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.” In Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted’s 1858 Greensward Plan, the terrace was called The Water Terrace, but after the unveiling of the angel, the name was changed to Bethesda Terrace. Location: Mid-Central Park at 72nd Street
In 1753, Robert Murray, who owned an importing business and Murray’s Wharf on lower Wall Street, and his wife, Mary Lindley Murray, purchased a tract of land for a country estate from what is now Madison Avenue east to Lexington Avenue and from 33rd to 39th Streets. After their deaths, the land was purchased by Robert’s younger brother, John, who divided the lots equally among his children. In 1847, the eleven descendants of John Murray registered with the City Surveyor what became known as the Murray Hill Restriction, banning the use of land for commercial real estate development, with the exception of churches and the private stables and carriage houses located between Lexington and Third Avenues. This restriction assured a private and exclusive neighborhood and appealed to some of the city’s wealthiest families, including Mrs. Astor whose mansion was on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street. The Murray Hill Restriction, however, did not apply to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, offering Benjamin Altman in the opportunity to build his dream of the finest and largest New York department store. In deference to the exclusive enclave, Mr. Altman had the building designed to replicate a Florentine palace and when it opened in 1906, his business name did not appear on the outside of the building, and it remained that way until the 1950s.