The Eldorado, Manhattan

One of the great horned buildings of Central Park West, the Eldorado was built in 1929/30. It inherited its name from the El Dorado, an apartment building that stood at the same spot since 1909. Garrison Keilor lived here for a time. The top of the northern tower hides the building’s water tank.

And as his strength

Failed him at length

He met a pilgrim shadow–

Shadow, said he

Where can it be–

This land of Eldorado?

Over the Mountains

Of the Moon

Down the Valley of Shadow

Ride, boldly ride

The shade replied–

If you seek for Eldorado

– Edgar Allan Poe

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300 Central Park West

The NYC Hippodrome

Walking along 6th Ave between 43rd and 44th you might not notice number 1120, a midsized, 1950s glassy office building. Madmen’s Roger Sterling would look at home in the lobby.

But maybe you happen to catch sight of the building’s name: Hippodrome.

Unusual. Where does it come from?

It comes from the wonderous building, the Hippodrome Theatre,

that operated on this site from 1909 to 1939. It had 5,300 seats–more than today’s Met. Performing elephants and Harry Houdini graced the stage.

These photos of the old theater come from a display the New York Public Library mounted in the 47th-50th Street subway station, right by Rockefeller Center.

Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans

This grand and lore-filled space began in 1893 as the Hotel Grunewald, the dream of German immigrant Louis Grunewald. It faced Baronne Street. In 1908 an annex was opened on the other side of the block.

Louis’ son, Theodore sold the complex in 1923. The new owners tore down and replaced the Baronne-facing building and renamed the hotel after Theodore Roosevelt. He was popular because his Panama Canal benefited the city’s economy. In 1934 the property was bought by a group led by Seymour Weiss, a friend of strongman Huey Long. Starting in 1935 the Blue Room swung to the likes of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey.

Huey Long moved in, residing in a 12th floor suite for a time. Long even had the Roosevelt’s bartender flown up to New York to teach bartenders at the New Yorker Hotel

(lobby shown here) how to make Ramos Gin Fizzes.

In 1965 Weiss sold to San Francisco’s Swig family. The hotel ran as a Fairmont until 2005 when it closed due to damage by Hurricane Katrina.

It was sold again in 2007, renovated. Its glory and its old name, Roosevelt, restored.

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Roosevelt Hotel

New and Newer Orleans

Most people from outside New Orleans immediately associate it with the architecure of the French Quarter.

It’s worth noting that these buildings’ designs actually are mostly Spanish. In 1788 and in 1794 devasting fires destroyed almost all of the original, wood, French-built structures. Spain ran the city then. So the rebuilding–in stone–reflected a Spanish flair.

The next fun fact is that Canal Street marks a sharp architectural border.

The up-river neighborhoods rose later, under U.S. influence. The Central Business District (CBD) and Warehouse District have many late 19th- to mid-20th century buildings much like New York’s or Philadelphia’s.

Though quirk often remains.