Tuesday, November 02, 2010

19 w. 46th, again

This the second post about 19 W. 46th Street in Manhattan. The first is here. My great-grandfather, Louis Windmuller, leased an apartment at this address for some 40 years.[1] Over those decades his growing family lived on the estate he had built in what was then the open countryside at Woodside in Queens and he used the city place occasionally as need be. During the winter months, when his long commute to Queens from his office at 20 Reade Street became unpleasant, he would remain in Manhattan and at any time of year he might entertain city friends there and, at least on one memorable occasion, he hosted a major celebration in the apartment.

A famous pedestrian, he walked to and from the Reade Street office for more than four decades. When his start or end point was Woodside, he would probably use the ferry at James Slip, limiting distance on foot to only a few miles, but he wouldn't mind using the 34th Street ferry to extend the walk to nearly nine miles, and the ferry at 34th would normally have been his means of getting back and forth between the apartment and his home in Queens.[2]

Despite its tiny width, the building had a normal three-room depth and contained more-than-pocket-sized rentable spaces on each of its four floors. There was a storefront at ground level, a "parlor floor" above it, and apartments on the two upper floors.[3]

These days a popular Turkish restaurant is at street level and there are one or two salons on the second floor. In earlier days, the ground floor's tenants included a bartending school (see the Herald Statesman, Yonkers, N. Y., for Thursday, May 26, 1949) and, in the Prohibition Era, a speakeasy (see the New York Sun for January 8, 1929: "Police Axmen Raid Speakeasies").[4]

During Windmuller's time as many women as men appear to have resided in the building and most residents appear to have been physicians, including one woman who was also a physician. Non-medical men who lived there included a lawyer, Hugh Reginald Willson — one of the city's assistant district attorneys and son of a well-known transit advocate[5] — and an aspiring musician.[6]

One of the more interesting residents was a granddaughter of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt whom the Times called "one of the old original Staten Island colony."[7] Windmuller probably wouldn't have known that he was obscurely related to this woman via his wife's Thorn family connections.[8]

Apart the destruction of speakeasy by "police axmen," the most notable event to occur at 19 W. 46th Street seems to have been the sudden death of a the woman who served as cook to the lady physician.[9]


This detail from a map of Queens in 1872 shows Windmuller's office and two residences. I've also marked the ferry slips. The East River bridges (apart from the Brooklyn Bridge, which was not useful to him) were constructed too late in his life to make the ferries unnecessary.[10]

{Map of Kings County, with parts of Westchester, Queens, New York & Richmond Counties. Showing Farm Lines, Soundings &c. (New York, M. Dripps, 1872); source: Library of Congress}


Here are some photos of the area; I couldn't find any old images of the building itself. All come from the NYPL Digital Gallery.

1. From about 1885 this shows 5th Ave at the corner of 46th. No. 19 is around the corner.

{Manhattan: 5th Avenue - 46th Street, 1885?}

2. This shows the same intersection in 1890.

{Manhattan: 5th Avenue - 46th Street, Loeffler, A. (August) -- Photographer, 1890}

3. This shows the same intersection in 1899. I suspect it records the razing of buildings to construct the Windsor Arcade.

{Manhattan: 5th Avenue - 46th Street, 1899}

4. Taken in 1904, down the block on west 46th, this appears to show a funeral.

{Manhattan: 46th Street (West) - 6th Avenue (1904)}

4. A photo of the Windsor Arcade at 5th Avenue and 46th St., which has shown up in another blog post of mine.

{Manhattan: 5th Avenue - 46th Street, Windsor Arcade, Wurts Brothers -- Photographer, 1907?}

5. Windmuller died in 1913; this photo, taken ca. 1922, shows the continued revamping of the block. All the tearing down and rebuilding somehow left 19 W. 46th unchanged.

{Manhattan: 46th Street (West) - 5th Avenue (1922?)}


Here are records concerning some of the building's occupants from a quick internet search.

1875 - The Catalogue of Columbia College lists Hugh Reginald Willson as resident of 19 W. 46th St. Willson was an assistant district attorney and son of an expert on monetary policy and "originator of the undertaking known as the Underground Railway" in New York (meaning the subway system, not the abolitionist cause).[X]

1877 - Goulding's New York City directory lists "Hugh R. Wilson" (sic) as a lawyer having his home at 19 w. 46th

1881 - The Evening Telegram tells its readers that Mrs. F.H. Howell of No. 19 West Forty-sixth street, will receive on Tuesdays in February. (The World of Society. What Is Going On in Circles of Fashion. Receptions, Dinners and Other Entertainments. LATEST FASHIONABLE INTELLIGENCE. New York. Monday. January 28, 1881).

1887 - A book, Descendants of Constant Southworth, 1614-1685 records that Dr. George Champlin Shepard Southworth then resided at 19 W. 46th St. His entry sums his vitae tersely: "Yale 1883. College of Physicians and Surgeons NY 1887. St. Luke's Hospital, NY 1888. Chambers St. Hospital NY 1889. Certificates in Gynecology and Obstetrics, Rotunda Lying-in Hospital, Dublin 1890."

1887 - The Newtown Register for Thursday, September 16, reports: "Mrs. Telford Groesbeck, of Cincinnati, has been visiting at her old home in this village, having come to attend the marriage of her sister Miss Helen M. Cox to Dr. J. T. O'Connor, a prominent physician of New York. The marriage took place very quietly at St. Agnes Church, New York, on Sep. 3, only the immediate family being present. The newly married couple immediately took up their abode at their residence, 19 West 46th street, New York.

1889 - The Annual report of the Executive Committee of the Indian Rights Association lists as a member "Southworth, Dr. TS," residing at 19 W. 46th St.

1891 - The New York Times notes the marriage of Dr. Albert H. Ely of New York to Miss Maud L. Merchant of Rochester, "couple to reside at 19 W. 46th St."

1893 - Dr. TS Southworth is again listed as member of the Indian Rights Association, and will be in subsequent volumes of the publication.

1893 - Club Men of New York lists Ely, Albert H. M.D. of 19 W.46th St. as member of the New York and Yale Athletic clubs. (Republic Press, 1893).

1894 - A directory, Officers and Graduates of Columbia College, lists Albert Heman Ely, A.B. as resident of 19 W. 46th. His vitae in brief: "Yale Coll. 1885. Asst. Surg. Roosevelt Hosp., Instr. Gynaecology N. Y. Polyclinic."

1895 - The Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of New York lists "Albert Heman Ely, 19 W. 46th St."

1899 - The Harvard Graduates' Magazine reports that "Francis Rogers has issued a circular announcing his entering into the musical profession. His address is 19 W. 46th St., New York city. On Dec. 6 he gave a concert in Boston Association Hall." (Volume 7 - Page 465).

1899 - The Real Estate reports in the Evening Post for Tuesday, January 24, lists Dr. Mary L. Edwards as leasing a apartment at No. 19 West Forty-sixth Street, for three years from the McVickar & Co.

1899 - The New York Times, gives a report of a "Servant Found Dead In Bed" at the home of Dr. Mary L. Edwards (Tuesday, December 26, 1899).

1899 - The New York Times for October 8 reported the marriage of Dr. Ely. "JOINED HANDS IN WEDLOCK.; SOCIETY AT ROCHESTER AND AUBURN WITNESS BRILLIANT EVENTS. New York Times, October 8, 1891, Wednesday, Page 2. ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 7. -- The marriage this evening of Dr. Albert H. Ely of New York and Miss Maud L. Merchant of this city was a very brilliant affair. The doors of old St. Paul's were thrown open at 5 P.M., and for nearly two hours people poured into the edifice, filling the church from chancel to vestibule with the most brilliant assemblage ever gathered at a wedding in this city. -- couple to reside at 19 W. 46th St."

1900 - The Catalogue of Officers and Graduates of Columbia University lists Barnard graduate Grace Mary Shaw as residing at 19 W. 46th St.

1900 - The Catalogue of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity lists A.H. Ely of 19 W. 46th St. as member. His name also appears in 1894 and 1895.

1901 - The Transactions of the ... session of the American Institute of Homoeopathy lists Mary L. Edwards residing at 19 W. 46th St. and working at the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women (Volume 56 - Page 715).

1901 - The Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the Indian Rights Association continues to list Dr. T.S. Southworth as member living at 19 W. 46th St.

1901 - On May 22, Dr. and Mrs. Ely sailed to Liverpool on the SS Oceanic which had been built in 1899 and was eclipsed that year as "the largest ship in the world." In January she had collided with and sank the "Kincora", at loss of 7 lives."

1902 - The Standard Medical Directory of North America, lists Mary L. Edwards at 19 W. 46th St.

1902 - On February 11, the society pages of the New York Times declare that Dr. and Mrs. Ely attended a dance:

1904 - The New York Times for Friday, February 26, has this obit: "Mrs. Anna Van Buzer [i.e., Duzer] Root, wife of George V. Root, eighty-one years old, died at her residence, 19 West Forty-sixth Street, Wednesday of gastritis. She was a niece [i.e., granddaughter] of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, and was one of the old original Staten Island colony. Only a few months ago the golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Root was celebrated. The funeral will be held today. The Interment will be In the Moravian Cemetery."

1906 - Club Women of New York lists Miss May Josephine Wirthan at 19 W. 46th, a member of the Vassar Aid club of NY.

1909 - The Trow (formerly Wilson's) Copartnership And Corporation Directory of New York lists Grace (T.N. [i.e., Trade Name]) (Anne & Elizabeth Grace) at 19 W. 46th.

1911 - The New York Times for August 18 reports the following: "THE REAL ESTATE FIELD; Royal Scott Gulden has leased the dwelling 19 West Forty-Sixth Street for the estate of H.C. Willson -- William E. Gaillard, trustee -- to M.J. Piper. The McVickar, Gaillard Realty Company represented the owners. Mr. Gulden has also leased the parlor floor in the same building to Miss M.Gerity, for millinery purposes.

1913 - The New York Times for August 28 reports that a milliner has leased space at 19 W. 46th.

1913 - The New York Sun for November 29 lists: "BUSINESS PROPERTY LEASES. Royal Scott Gulden has leased the building at 19 West Forty-sixth street to the Frank Oilman Company, manufacturers of women's skirts. The tenant will alter the premises into stores and apartments. The McVickard, Gaillard Realty Company represented the owner.)"

1914 - The New York Times for January 14 reports that a dressmaker has leased space at 19 W. 46th.

1916 - The Catalogue of Officers and Graduates of Columbia University lists Grace Mary Shaw as a Barnard graduate of 1911 living at 19 W. 46th.

1916 - The New York Times for Saturday, October 28, has an ad for "SALESMEN. — Opening for two or three younger men of good appearance; must be extremely well connected socially; high-class custom shirt business; commission. Frank Oilman Co. 19 West 46th St."

1917 - From the New York Times, July 26th: "46TH, 19 WEST. — Parlor store, 10 feet above sidewalk; fine window space; can give tenant trade from our shop; rent reasonable. Frank Oilman Co."

1921 - The New York Times for January 16 has a real estate ad for "Choice Selection, APARTMENTS AND H0USES, MISS BERKELET, 19 WEST 46TH. BRYANT 8618."

1930 - An obituary in the New York Times of September 4, 1930, reports Dr. Mary L. Edwards is Dead: "Dr. Mary L. Edwards, a homeopathic physician who retired from practice in 1910, died yesterday in the Braker Home for Incurables, Third Avenue and 132d Street, at the age of 70. She was graduated from the Women's Medical College in 1890. She formerly lived at 19 West Forty-sixth Street."

1949 - The Herald Statesman, Yonkers, N. Y., for Thursday, May 26, answers a reader's question: "Question: To settle an argument will you please state whether or not there are any schools for bartenders? My wife won't believe that there are. - A Reader. Answer: There is the Bartenders School Inc., 201 West 49th Street. New York City, and the International Bartenders School Inc. 19 West 46th Street, New York City.


Some sources:

The Skinniest Building in Midtown

LEGOizing NY

A MOC of 19W 46th St New York, NY

Narrow Buildings in Japan and Around the World

New York, New York 46th St in AAAG's America at a Glance


List of ferries across the East River

James Slip Ferry

fultonhistory.com, where you can "Search Over 13,501,000 Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages"

nytimes.com archival searches

Library of Congress map collections

Google Books

The Trow (formerly Wilson's) copartnership and corporation directory of New York City (Trow, 1909 - New York (N.Y.))



[1] He moved into the building right after it was built ca. 1865. I'm not sure but he may have kept it up to the day of his death in 1913. Notice in the timeline given above that the building was leased to a clothing manufacturer in November of that year. This map, published in 1867 from data previously collected, shows the vacant lot.

{Plan of New York City from the Battery to Spuyten Duyvil Creek : showing every lot and building thereon : old farm lines, street numbers at the corners of blocks, railroads, steamboat landings, bulkhead and pier lines, etc., etc., etc. Dripps, M (1867); source: Library of Congress}

[2] On February 7, 1913, the New York Times wrote up a proposal for a new club: NOTED CITIZENS OUT FOR WALKING RECORD; Gaynor, Choate, Hornblower, Parsons, and Windmuller Form the Pedestrians Club. Here's an extract from the article:

[3] The two upper floors currently have two apartments of two bedrooms each, see: The Skinniest Building in Midtown. For the building's "Parlor Floor" see the New York Times for August 18, 1911, quoted above.

[4] Here's the text:
Police Axmen Raid Speakeasies

The Village Gets a Visit.

Detectives of the staff of Inspector Quinn were busy in Greenwich Village. Provided with a warrant issued by United States Commissioner Cotter the detectives entered an alleged speakeasy at l Charles street, a place operated, the police said, by a man whose establishment had been closed in a raid on Wednesday night.

The detectives drove about twenty patrons to the street, then proceeded to demolish the place. They smashed the mirrors, the bar and the furniture and destroyed barrels of beer and liquor not needed for evidence. When they left the floor was a sea of liquor and beer foam. Joseph Burns was placed under arrest on a charge of possession.

Inspector Quinn said the place was known as "Julius's new place." Julius's "old place," he said, was closed in a raid on Wednesday night. It was located a few doors from where he had opened up again.

Among the other places raided during the night were 19 West Forty-sixth street, said to be operated by a former policeman who was dismissed from, the force some time ago.
[5] Hugh R. Willson was son of Hugh B. Willson. The father was a well-known advocate of subway transit, styled "the originator of the undertaking known as the Underground Railway" in New York. See Annual report of the Board of Railroad Commissioners (Massachusetts. Board of Railroad Commissioners, Wright & Potter, State Printers, 1891), The Popular science monthly, Volume 21 (D. Appleton, 1882), "Memoir of the Author" in Currency: or, The fundamental principles of monetary science postulated (Putnam's sons, 1882), Mr. Hugh B. Willson and the Underground Railroad (NYT, March 26, 1866) and Pioneer Plans for a Subway in Fifty Years of Rapid Transit (Walker, 1918).

[6] This information appears in notes for the class of 1899 in the Harvard Graduates' Magazine: "Francis Rogers has issued a circular announcing his entering into the musical profession. His address is 19 W. 46th St., New York city. On Dec. 6 he gave a concert in Boston Association Hall."

[7] This obituary notice appears in the New York Times for February 26, 1904.

Here are some sources of information about Anna.

Anna Hand Van Duzer Root on rootsweb

This is an entry for her in Genealogies of New Jersey Families by Joseph R. Klett (Genealogical Publishing Com, 1996).

This source also gives the following story that Mrs. Root told about her relative Mrs. Johnson.

[8] Anna Hand Van Duzer Root had Vanderbilt cousins who were also distant cousins of Windmuller's wife, Annie: Emily Thorn Vanderbilt and William Knapp Thorne were related to Annie on the Thorne and Kissam branches of her family tree. Here's a short relationship table for Emily Thorn Vanderbilt, from wikipedia. I've previously written about her.

[9] The report says,
Dr. Mary L. Edwards of 19 West Forty-sixth Street notified the Coroner's Office by telephone last night that her cook, Rose Fitzgerald, forty years old, a widow, had been found dead in her room.

The woman had retired at 10 o'clock, and half an hour later she was found dead by Annie Murphy, a servant. Dr. Edwards and Dr. Irving Townsend of 67 West Forty-sixth Street, who were called in, agreed that the cause of death had probably been heart disease.

Dr. Edwards knew, however, that the woman had been using chloroform and laudanum for a toothache, and feared she might have taken an overdose. An autopsy will be held. The police made a careful search for any indication of suicide, but found none.
[10] It's interesting that Woodside was so large an estate and the building at 19 W. 46th so small. Windmuller was a close friend of William Steinway, who made the famous pianos just to the north of the Woodside estate in a town that was then called Steinway. It's curious, but of no real significance that the Windmuller property resembles a grand piano seen from above. This link will take you to LC site where you can access the 1872 map full size: Map of Kings County : with parts of Westchester, Queens, New York & Richmond: showing farm lines, soundings, etc.

1 comment:

ajlounyinjurylaw said...

The pictures of old and the historical information was very interesting to view and read.