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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

The Hippodrome: 1905

The Hippodrome: 1905

"The Hippodrome, New York. A Yankee Circus on Mars." Which was the production that opened this 5,200-seat theater, the world's largest, in April 1905. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Another landmark

Did anyone notice the Algonquin Hotel in the background? Isn't it the oldest continuously operating hotel in the city?

What's in a name

I remember a multi-story parking lot at the NE corner of Sixth Avenue and 43rd Street called the Hippodrome. I always wondered about the name, but never in a million years would I have guessed there was a magnificent 5,200 seat theater on the site before that! Unbelievable! Thanks, Shorpy.

Old Flags

One of the games we vexillologists play at our conventions is to see who can identify a folded or rolled up flag the quickest as it is being opened. Here's what I think I see for flags:

Starting from the left

1-Possibly the Chinese Dragon Flag
2-France
3-Chile
4-Can't make it out
5-Dominican Republic
6-Possibly Nicaragua (looks like the upper & lower stripes are the same color)
7-Can't make it out
8-Scotland Royal Flag
9-Brazil
10-United Kingdom
11-Can't make it out
12-Can't make it out
13-Germany
14-Japan
15-Guatemala
16-Possibly Crete (blue flag with white cross, red canton with white star)
17-Ottoman Empire (Turkey)
18-Argentina
19-Persia
20-Can't make it out
21-Italy
22-A British Blue Ensign, maybe Canada, India, or South Africa; can't make out the badge. At this point in time, the Canadian Red Ensign was not yet established.
23-Can't make it out
24-Switzerland
25-Greece
26-Can't make it out
27-Possibly the Norway-Sweden Union
28-Ecuador or maybe Columbia
29-Portugal
30-United States of America

On The Town

CHIP:
My father told me, "Chip, my boy,
There'll come a time when you leave home;
If you should ever hit New York,
Be sure to see the Hippodrome."

HILDY:
The Hippodrome?

CHIP:
The Hippodrome.

HILDY:
Did I hear right?
Did you say the Hippodrome?

CHIP:
Yes, you heard right.
Yes, I said the Hip-

(Hildy brakes.)

Hey what did you stop for?

HILDY:
It ain't there anymore.
Aida sang an "A"
And blew the place away!

Toilets fixed

By the famous plunging horses.

Old flags

There is quite an impressive array of national flags on the roof. Unfortunately, most are not furled out enough to seem them well, but besides the US flag, I think I can see ones that are unchanged since then: France (very left), possibly Japan and Mexico (adjacent to each other, middle section), and the Ottoman Empire (the crescent and star, very similar to the flag of modern Turkey).

More interestingly, there are also flags no longer used: The rightmost flag on the front looks like the Kingdom of Italy (the modern tricolor plus an added shield in the middle). Two places to the left of that, with a lion holding a sword against a sun, is an old flag of Iran.

The horizontal tricolor in the middle of the front may be either the Netherlands (red on white on blue) or the German Empire (black on white on red).

There seem to be various British commonwealth flags as well, but I can't quite tell which. The UK flag itself seems strangely absent

I'd be interested if people figure out some of the others.

"Plunging Horses"

I believe that it was located on the east side of Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Street. Their "Plunging Horses" show must have been a precursor to the Steel Pier attraction in Atlantic City in later years.

The Old Hipp

When I was just starting out as a stagehand in the late 60's, the oldtimers, in an effort to let us youngsters know how good we had it, would talk about "working at the Old Hipp for a Coke and a hotdog a day."

Would have loved to gone there

But it was a little before my time.

It was between of foyty tuyd and foyty foyd street on sexth avenew.

I think this postcard was glamorized from this photo.

Dancing girls! Elephants!

From IBDB:

"A Yankee Circus on Mars" was a 4 hr. production that included 280 chorus girls, 480 soldiers, a parade of cars driven by elephants, an equestrienne ballet, acrobats, & a cavalry charge through a lake.

What's that smell?

Strange odors plagued the 42nd Street station of the Sixth Avenue subway for years. Engineers repeatedly checked for gas or sewer leaks, all to no avail. Finally, sometime in the 1950's, the cause was figured out - underground deposits of elephant dung from circuses held at the nearby Hippodrome, by then gone for over a decade.

At least this is the story-- suffice to say that my patented Urban Legend Detector is flashing yellow.

 
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