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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • WE CAN DO IT! BUT FIRST, COFFEE

Americana: 1962

Americana: 1962

October 31, 1962. "Americana Hotel, 52nd Street and Seventh Avenue, New York City. Coffee shop II. Loew's Hotels. Morris Lapidus, Harle & Liebman architects." Large-format acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.

 

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Why So High?

The coathooks on the wall seem to be awfully high; OK maybe for an adult but mighty tough for children.

[If they were lower, coats would be in range for damage from chairs being backed up against the wall. And presumably parents would take care of their kids' garments. - tterrace]

A fixture of my childhood

Those circular diffusers were everywhere when I was a kid, including our living room ceiling.

At the Americana

I attended the first Consumer Electronics Show, held at the Americana in June 1967. There were only about 20 vendor displays. I remember being in one the audio listening rooms and getting a product pitch and a demonstration of a manufacturer's loudspeakers. There was an older gentleman listening as well. I wasn't impressed with what I heard. As we left the room the other fellow asked me what I thought and I told him. He agreed with my assessment and we introduced ourselves. He was Avery Fisher, an industry legend, the founder of the Fisher Radio Company and a lifelong philanthropist. Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center was named for him.

This room sends me a message

And the message is: uncomfortable seating, mediocre food, indifferent service, outrageously high prices.

Late Frank Lloyd Wright influence?

The tiles on those columns look a lot like the molded concrete "textile blocks" Wright and his son used in their California houses, the Miller, Storer, Ennis and Freeman houses (though those blocks were much larger).

Ennis House has been used in several films and music viceos.

Of course, this place copies only the idea, not the style or the execution.

Prune danish and cigarettes

What horrid crowded little tables. Not designed for today's "body profile" for sure. I see myself at 9 years old jammed in with my brother and parents (smoking like fiends) while I try to eat some eggs. Check out the "Alien hieroglyphic" tile motif on the columns.

New in '62

The 53-story hotel operated as the Americana until it was acquired by Sheraton in 1979 and renamed Sheraton Center Hotel & Towers. It underwent a $192M renovation in 1992 and became the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers. After a $160M renovation that expanded guest facilities was completed early in 2012, the name was shorted to Sheraton New York Hotel.

Sign of the Times

Oh, how I remember this sort of dining experience. The days when "modern" meant everything would be stone, glass and metal eventually. Glad they were wrong, about that at least. Judging from the date, this photo must have been taken just days after the conclusion of the Cuban Missle Crisis. It was a better world then, but not in all respects.

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