Look What’s in the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There’s a big browsing section of what new books the library bought.

(2014-02-09 001)Title: The Historic Shops & Restaurants of New York

Author: Ellen Williams & Steve Radlauer

Publication Information: New York: The Little Bookroom, 2002

ISBN: 978-781892-145-1-54 (1-892145-15-4)

Library of Congress Classification: TX907.3.N72

Dewey Decimal Classification: 917.471

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Restaurants—New York (State)—New York—Guidebooks
Stores, Retail—New York (State)—New York—Guidebooks

I came across this book when I was weeding the out-of-date books in the travel section in the library. I was intrigued so much that I took it out. The Historic Shops & Restaurants of New York is for those into New York City history, specifically the history of shops and restaurants in Gotham.

The book’s focus is on establishments that are a century or so old. The term “store” has a wide meaning: apothecaries, pharmacies, leather goods, clothiers, sporting goods, home fittings, jewelers, watchmakers, butchers, fishmongers, grocerias (grocery stores), hardware—you name it, it’s probably listed.

There are some interesting entries. Did you know that Bloomingdale’s donated most of the men’s department to recruiting during the 1898 Spanish-American War? The store also granted extended leaves of absence at full pay for those employees who enlisted. During World War I, the store turned a full floor over to the Red Cross and posted signs in the grocery department (!) reminding shoppers of the rationing schedule: no wheat on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Tuesdays were meatless.

Macy’s, in the meantime, had introduced the world to the first store Santa Claus in 1870. The Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924, with the giant balloons joining three years later. Originally the balloons would be released at the finish line; people would then bring them back for a reward. And Macy’s red star logo? It came from founder and ex-seaman Roland Hussey Macy, upon whose hand was a red star tattoo.

A hospital for dolls exists on Lexington Avenue. The Doll Hospital was founded in 1900 originally to restore the tangled hair on dolls but quickly expanded into making all repairs dolls may need. After Teddy bears, introduced in 1902, became popular, the Doll Hospital also serviced them. After World War II, the Doll Hospital began selling dolls imported from Europe. And as customers are reminded, the hospital hasn’t lost a patient yet.

I’m interested in the restaurants and cafés. The Landmark Tavern was built at 11th Avenue in 1868, before landfill extended Manhattan over to 12th Avenue. The tavern initially served immigrants, sailors and longshoremen. Mare Chiaro is better known as the Sinatra Bar, since Frank Sinatra had patronized it since 1941. In 1860, McSorley’s Old Ale House served Abraham Lincoln, who was then an ex-Illinois congressman running for president. Lincoln was speaking at Cooper Union, founded the year before by philanthropist Peter Cooper. One of Cooper’s closest friends was John McSorley.

There’s a lot here. The book is of interest to anyone who wants to poke around the more than a century old stores and restaurants of New York City.

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