The U.E.S. Journal

Tag Archives: History

8 Heads, Count ‘em! (Never before seen photos of back side of UES sculpture)

Today, after 30 years on the Upper East Side I settled in to my new home in Los Angeles. I will continue to write from here but for my farewell to the UES I am going to reveal some never before seen faces…

The building I grew up in, 4 East 88th Street, has been referred to as NYC’s finest example of neo-federalist architecture by the Carnegie Hill Neighbors Architectural Guide.  Designed by Electus D. Litchfield and erected in 1922, the building features a “broken pediment” whose void, just atop the awning, is filled by a carved stone “potpourri” of heads.

No one seems to know for sure who these heads represent. It has been suggested that they are American patriots or that one is Electus Litchfield, the architect himself. I have also only read or heard the head count at four to five even though at least four are clearly visible from the street. But, lucky for me the sculpture sits in one of my family’s windows and during some recent construction I leaned out the window (over a scaffolding and set off an alarm) and photographed the heads as best I could.

There are 8 heads. They go all the way around as if the sculpture was meant to sit on a table or in a garden with all sides visible, and not up against a wall.  Unfortunately, their condition has deteriorated over the years and you can see some repairs are also deteriorating. So far I have looked for Litchfield’s records regarding this building in his archives at Columbia University’s Avery Library to try to find out where he acquired the sculpture. The records for this building were not at Avery but there is a chance they could be in the archives at the Met Museum – a task for when I visit my parents in NYC or maybe a task for Christopher Gray.

Anyway, without further ado, I present to you all eight heads.

1. The Topper…
Read more →

The Franklin


I recently stayed a few nights at The Franklin Hotel on 87th Street between Lexington Ave and Third Ave.  Been walking by it for years, used to see the bellhop in a top hat.  Haven’t seen that in a long time there was no top hatted bellhop during my stay.  I have a feeling The Franklin has a gritty, story-filled New York City history.  The building was constructed around 1929 and the neon sign looks old and classic.  When I told people I would be staying there, most asked in a disgusted tone, why would I want to stay there?  I guess it doesn’t appear from the outside to be a really “nice” hotel but I was looking for something with a certain old New York vibe.  I almost didn’t stay there because when I sought out more information The Franklin Hotel website painted a picture of a chic contemporary boutique hotel, no mention of any past.  There were mixed reviews on Yelp and I think anyone looking for a contemporary boutique hotel could be disappointed.  The hallways and parts of rooms like the nook for the sink in my bathroom were datedly small.  But for anyone looking for that old New York feeling like myself, The Franklin was everything I wanted it to be.  Perhaps the coolest part is the elevator with an art deco motif in the cab.  The doorsknobs to the elevator on each floor have inlaid mother-of-pearl or abalone bits.  Mosaic room numbers.  I wish the Franklin would market its historical aspects more.  I want to know who stayed there, who died there, and if I knew its stories I swear I would stay there more often.  Anyone know any Franklin stories?  Please add in the comments.  Here are some photos.



The elevation plan is on display in the entrance.

A blurry photo I took several years ago of the bellhop.

American Hero’s Last Words and Execution on The U.E.S.

Rebecca Schiffman with Nathan Hale plaque

I’ve been watching the John Adams HBO series starring Paul Giamatti and feeling a little patriotic so today my friend Mike and I walked around looking for a plaque commemorating the execution site of an American Revolutionary War Hero, Nathan Hale, and eventually we found it on the side of a Banana Republic.

Nathan Hale Plaque with pants sign

According to a NY Historical Society plaque on the West side of Third Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets, Nathan Hale, the American Revolutionary war hero, was hanged by the British, “probably within a hundred yards of here.”

The hanging site of Nathan Hale is significant because it is where he uttered his famous last words (there are many conflicting accounts of these words, but all accounts give the same general sentiment which boil down to what follows),

“I only regret that I have but one life to give my country.” Read more →

The Colony Club as seen on Gossip Girl


Larry Fink, Russian Ball, Colony Club, New York City, 1977, via MoMA

Blair’s maid, Darota via WoodyCakes

On tonight’s episode of Gossip Girl, Blair throws a little party for members of the exclusive women’s social group, The Colony Club, in an attempt to gain entrance.  Her guests turn out to be a bunch of stodgy, petty, argyle-clad bitches who insist that Serena’s family and Chuck Bass are not to be associated with because of tabloid mentions, skimpy outfits, and nouveau-richeness.  In a display of strong character, Blair eventually totally disses them by ending the party and proclaiming the greatness of Serena and her mother, and her close association with Chuck Bass.

Which reminds me that I once picked up a copy of “The History of the Colony Club” at the Strand- I knew it would come in handy at some point- Read more →

What subway tunnels under U.E.S. looked like in 1914…

The U.E.S. Journal has acquired two original engineers’ photographs of subway construction under The Upper East Side in 1914.  Visit the “old photos” section of P.U.E.S. to see more…

Under 60th and Lex, 1914.

Come See: New York, N. Why? at The Met.


Rudy Burkhardt, Pedestrians, New York City, 1939
Photo via Met Museum

There’s a show up at The Metropolitan Museum of Art of which I’ve come back to three times because I enjoy it so much, maybe I can convince you to come see it too…

New York, N. Why? (1940) is a handmade scrapbook of silver-gelatin photographs Rudy Burkhardt took in New York City between 1937 and 1940 accompanied by 7 sonnets by the poet and dance critic Edwin Denby.  The Met owns the only copy which has been unbound and hung on the wall in sequence for this exhibition. Read more →

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