Demolished Manhattan Hotels

Fri, Feb 10, 2023 12pm - Fri, Mar 10, 2023 5pm

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The Park Avenue Hotel (1878 – 1927), on Park Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets, undated.

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The "famous sunken palm garden, as seen from the dining verandas," Park Avenue Hotel, ca. 1917.

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The Writing Room, Hotel Navarre (1900 – 1925), on Seventh Avenue at 38th Street, undated. 

This exhibition features postcards selected from the Architecture Archive’s Joseph Covino New York City Postcard Collection. Dating from the late 19th to mid-20th century, the collection is among the largest documenting New York City’s built environment. Its nearly 3,800 postcards were donated to the Architecture Archive between 1999 and 2003 by Joseph Covino, an avid postcard collector. 
Originally presented in 2009 by Barb Choit, the Archive’s collections assistant from 2007 – 2010, the postcards shown here depict thirteen Manhattan hotels—from Astor House to the Hotel Piccadilly—that were built and demolished over the course of nearly 150 years. Organized chronologically by their construction date, these buildings now exist only as images.
Indeed, many of the collection’s postcards document no-longer-extant buildings, interiors, businesses, and public spaces. They record a city in constant flux, capturing several decades of urban development across all five boroughs, from the city’s piers, airports, subways, and armories, to its public parks, aquariums, monuments, and libraries. Some subjects, including hotels, restaurants, and museums, as well as Coney Island and the 1939 World’s Fair, are extensively documented, attesting to the diverse commercial and public interests that shaped both the subjects depicted and the medium of the postcard itself. In addition to recording the city’s evolving physical form, the postcards are also commercial artifacts marking the rise of consumer culture, the growth of middle-class tourism, and the development of publishing technologies that fostered their widespread distribution and explosion in popularity during the first decades of the 20th century.
The postcards are supplemented with photographs, several of which were taken by the Detroit Photographic Company (later known as the Detroit Publishing Company). Launched in the 1890s, the company acquired rights to the Swiss “photochrom” process of converting black-and-white images to color for the mass production of photolithographic postcards and prints. Enabled by the Private Mailing Card Act of 1898—congressional legislation that allowed private publishers to produce postcards—the Detroit Photographic Company reportedly offered ten to thirty thousand different views, printing up to seven million photochrom images per year. The images featured on many postcards from the collection are derived from Detroit Publishing Company photos.

Held in the Foundation Building's Third Floor Hallway Gallery. Open to Cooper Union students, faculty, and staff.

Located at 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.