25 Random Things About Colonnade Row

In response to the deluge of requests for me to participate in the wacky '25 Things' kraze hitting the internets recently, I'm doing a slightly modified version on the building.

1. When it rains, the people on the top floor of my building have to throw a nylon tarp over the front of the building to prevent water from seeping in their windows and rotting their ceiling.

2.  The fireplaces in the rear apartments began to crumble from inside a few years ago and had to be sealed. They're now unable to be used.

3.  It is unlikely that the facade of the Colonnade will ever be restored.  The limestone that was used was of poor quality and pollution and age have rendered them beyond help.  Also, the two parties that own the buildings will never be able to agree (or afford) the cost.

4.  There are four separate townhouses in the remaining Colonnade, although most people think it looks like one.  Originally there were nine.  There is no connecting passage from within the buildings to each other although the front balcony does run uninterrupted.

5. President Tyler and his second wife, Julia Gardiner, held their post wedding 'breakfast' here following their wedding at Church of the Ascension on Thursday, June 26, 1844.  He was 54, she was 24.

6. Julia Gardiner's father, David Gardiner, was an owner of one of the houses at Colonnade Row.  He was killed in a freak accident during the ceremonial maiden sail of the Princeton, a new steamship, on the Potomac River when a cannon exploded fatally injuring him and a few other passengers.  Julia was also onboard but was not injured. 

7.  My neighbors and I built a beautiful wood deck  on the roof of the building in 1990 but had to dismantle it a few weeks later when another neighbor complained about it. 

8.  John Jacob Astor lived on the land where the Public Theater now stands and then moved into the Colonnade.  He built the Public as the Astor Library (the middle section) which later became annexed by the New York Public Library.  Years later, additions were added to the ends of it and after several other uses, became the Public Theater in the 1960's.

9.  The (original) Blue Man Group now own the north two buildings of Colonnade Row and reside there with their families.  Some theater employees also are housed there.

10.  Indochine restaurant will be celebrating their 25th year in business this fall.  Rizzoli is publishing a book with anecdotes from many of their customers.

11.  I was interviewed last week as 'the neighbor' for the Indochine book.  I may have said too much. 

12.  One night in the early 90's while I was taking out the garbage, I spilled the contents on David Geffen, Calvin Klein, Bianca Jagger, and Diane Von Furstenberg while they were hanging out in the foyer that my building shares with Indochine.  We all laughed. 

13.  The original name of Colonnade Row was La Grange Terrace.

14.  The first floors of the original buildings were the kitchens.   Food was sent to the upper floors on dumbwaiters.

15.  As one of the original perks during the initial sale of La Grange Terrace, buyers received free horse stables located on 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues.

16.  Many members from the original cast of Hair in 1967, lived here while they did the play at the Public Theater across the street.

17.  Edmund White, the author and playwright, lived here for many years and then moved to Chelsea in the early 90's.

18.  Washington Irving and Edgar Allen Poe were frequent guests of the first Colonnade residents.  Charles Dickens also lived here for awhile during his extended USA visit. 

19.  A popular New York City tourist guidebook refers to the Colonnade as "a decaying relic."

20.  The Times called the Colonnade, "a shabby old antique that someone sawed in half and left out for the garbage truck."

21.  The best tacos in the neighborhood are in that triangle building at Lafayette/Bleecker.

22. There are two separate 'loft buildings' in the back of the Colonnade that were built in the 1880's as additional housing. 

23.  These were the first New York City buildings to have indoor plumbing including hot and cold running water and toilets. 

24.  An iron gate once ran the entire length of the buildings but was removed when Lafayette Street was widened.

25.  There were originally two gas lamp torchieres that sat on two pedastals on either side of each main entrance (still standing at 432 & 434).


Anonymous said...

Random-y! And interesting!!!

Anonymous said...

Kirby -- do you have "Kings Handbook of New York City 1892"? Its a reference guide of sorts written by Moses King and reissued by Barns & Noble. It essentially details every building, neighborhood, church, association, etc. etc. that existed in NYC in 1891. Anyway, there is a great picture of Collanade Row.

Alex in NYC said...

Enjoyed this. Keep up the good work.

Kirby Carnegie said...

Thank you! I'll look for that book you recommended, Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Kirby -- I purchased it a few years ago at the (sadly) departed B&N on Astor Place. I'm trying to be helpful (and no I do not work for B&N) here is a link the the B&N site selling the book
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Kings-Handbook-of-New-York-City-1892/M-King/e/9780760724866/?itm=1It is so interesting!

bryan said...

Coolest 25 things meme ever!

I've been trying to sort out the geographical relationship between the Row and the Vauxhall Gardens. Did the Row simply take up the eastern strip of the Gardens (which lasted through the 1850s)?

I found a pretty cool picture of the entire building here, in Eric Homberger's book about Mrs. Astor's NY. Funny that the whole naming of the place was caught up in an attempt to rename the Bowery: some things never change!

Kirby Carnegie said...

Thanks, Bryan.

I believe Vauxhall Gardens were on the land where the Public Theater is now and then JJ Astor I built his 2nd house there. After he moved out of there and into Colonnade, he built the Astor library on that lot.

I love that book, it's full of great history and images.

lynn said...

I left a previous comment and it disappeared. We lived at 432 in the late sixties, my favorite home ever. We cleaned up the garden and had several dinners out back. The Fugs were performing where the Blue Man Group is now. I would love to be able to see our apt. again.

Anonymous said...

You refer to the row's "poor quality" limestone. You may be correct, but I don't think so. I believe the building is built of typically high quality marble. It's just that high quality marble can't stand up to urban pollution. Despite the loss of detail in the stone, the building's fine marble facade could probably still be cleaned and you'd be amazed. It would look as intended--bright-white marble. If I owned the building and were very rich and could get permission, I'd have it re-faced in fine Georgia granite, like the National Gallery of Art buildings in D.C.

But I'm pretty sure the building is marble, marble, marble.