London Terrace Towers

London Terrace Tatler - May 1933

Three Years Of It By "Ye Olde Tenant"
May 1, 1930. A big day at London Terrace -- new London Terrace.

LTT in Construction
London Terrace in the Making
There have been may "big days" since, but this was an all-important one, for on that day, the doors of the first completed unit -- 455 were opened and Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Braney, a most engaging young couple, moved in as the first tenants, pioneer residents in the largest project of its kind.

London Terrace then didn't look like the London Terrace of today. To tell the truth, those early residents had the real pioneer spirit. They had to have it. The 455 and 460 buildings were the only two ready for occupancy. Carpenters, plasterers, painters and what have you were everywhere in the other garden units. The garden was piled with lumber and other materials. There was no grass. Every gentle spring zephyr swirled clouds of dust through the open windows. For eight hours every day, there was the noise of construction -- din would be a better word. But the pioneers took it all smiling and their numbers increased steadily as each month witnessed the opening of two more units.

Merely Holes

In those days, the sites of the present corner buildings were merely holes in the ground. Even the foundations had not been set and no steel work had been stated. But, by October 1, which was the next big moving day, there were more than 700 families in the Terrace. With October 1 also, came that distinctive show, now regrettably gone -- this being deflated 1933 -- the dress parade of the uniformed service. By this time, of course, the garden had become a garden, and every afternoon at 4:45, the peal of a bugle would sound from the vicinity of the fountain and all the bobbies and patrolmen would line up for the changing of the guard. It was a highly impressive affair. So impressive in fact that one six-year-old visitor at the Terrace, on hearing the bugle and rushing to the window to see the military spectacle, cried, "Mamma, come quick. The London Terrors are going to parade."

Christmas Eve Festivities

Christmas Eve was the next big day for London Terrace. On that bitterly cold evening in 1930 was dedicated the bronze tablet in the garden containing a facsimile of the original manuscript of "The Night Before Christmas", as a permanent Christmas shrine. No one who was there will ever forget the beauty of that festival. At the west end of the garden, a canopied platform had been erected and just as the candle-lighting ceremony was begun, the thousands of visitors -- and there were thousands -- who gathered before the platform heard the strains of the Christmas carols from the throats of a large boys' chorus and from that moment until the ceremonies ended and Santa Claus came down the chimney to deliver his gifts to the children, the garden radiated with real Christmas spirit.

There have been many "big days" and many amusing episodes in the life of the Terrace since, some not so amusing. Queer things always happen in apartment buildings. I recall the day when one tenant, in a somewhat befuddled condition, sat gaily on the window sill of her 10th floor apartment, feet dangling over the garden side and announced to the world at large that she was about to jump out, only to be prevented at the last moment by a highly excited sergant of the guard.

African Dodger

Then there was the tragically humorous episode of the fair tenant, who, on a Saturday afternoon, stood in the middle of her living room on the first floor of 420 and hurled all the bottles, glass-ware and china in the apartment through the window, without bothering first to open the window, until there were a few square yards of debris in the garden. She was finally corralled and taken away, never to return.

And who, of those who were here then, doesn't remember the famous machine gun scare, when twice within the space of a wee, the garden, shortly after midnight resounded with the unmistakable rat-tat-tat of a sub-Tommy? Every window was filled with excited inquires and the patrolmen were scurrying in all direction in the darkness, until it developed that someone in a playful mood had dropped packages of lighted firecrackers into the garden. But it was funny only after the cause had been revealed. Like the heroines of the two previously mentioned incidents, the playful one also vanished from our midst.

There have been many pleasant "firsts" at the Terrace -- the first Christmas party, the first big meet in the swimming pool, the first night at the dining room, the first penthouse party, held on a blazing hot night in June 1931 which eventually resulted in the present delightful Penthouse Club, and many others.

London Terrace is on historic ground, but, in its own way, it is establishing its own history and its own traditions. To those of us who have lived with it and in it from the first days of its construction it is the place we had always hoped to find in a crowded metropolis. There is nothing else quite like it.

London Terrace Tatler - January 1933 Pg 5

Mayor O'Brien Opens New Highway Inaugurates Extension of West Side Viaduct

Specially written for THE TATLER

West Side Highway 1933
General View of the Highway
New York City formally opened the second section F, the new elevated highway running for Twenty-second to Thirty-eight Streets, with a dreary ceremony which represented also the first gesture of a public works nature for Mayor John P. O'Brien.

This second section, erected at a cost of approximately $2,450,000, is a saga of steel girders in five minutes and thirty cents by the average taxi meter. A drive up its smooth concrete roads affords both an expansive view of the Hudson River and a technical education in steamship lines and wharves.

For London Terrace residents the new extension, two minutes from the house, represents a savings of at least fifteen minutes, twenty-five cents by taxi, and a hazardous drive along Tenth Avenue.

There was little fanfare at the opening ceremony. The exercises were opened with an introductory address by Commissioner Warren Hubbard, followed by an encomiastic talk by Borough President Samuel Levy and finally by a speech on economies by Mayor O'Brien. The three public officials then congratulated each other on the highway as a piece of construction, as a thing of beauty and as an economic joy. It was announced at that time that $10,000,000 was cut off the original $25,000,000 estimate for the cost of the entire highway.

After the speeches, Mayor O'Brien cut the white tae with his little gold scissors and the highway was formally opened, wile the band of the Department of Public Works, dressed in festive blue and white, blew clarions and the steamboats on the river hooted their solemn approval.

"I am glad to be here," Mayor O'Brien shouted into the microphone, some of his remarks drowned by noises from the river, "because somehow with the theme of economy turning in the minds of public officials and with the watchword of economy and efficiency before us, we have the opportunity to see symbolized those very principles that mean so much to the city; especially the economy part of it -- notable in the $10,000,000 savings on this project, together with economy in time of erection and economy of inconvenience."

He linked his arm with Borough President Levy. "As Mayor of the City of New York," he punned. "I now officially open the second section of this express highway and express the hope that the whole projected highway will soon be consummated."

The ceremony was closed with a parade of official cars up the new extension to Thirty-eight Street. Mayor O'Brien leading the procession in his limousine.

London Terrace News - January 1934, pg 6

Cowboys of the Cobblestones

Every resident of London Terrace knows , and we believe, likes the cowboy riders of the New York Central, who day and night, rain or shine, majestically precede the electric trains along Tenth Avenue. For over eighty years this unique custom has been in existence, but now, even as the riders of the West have faded into glamorous limbo of romance, their own day is drawing to its close. With the early completion of the overhead roadway, they will disappear from the streets of New York, leaving many to change "The Last Round Up" as the brass bands announce the official opening of a modern Manhattan miracle.

Law of the Range

The story of these riders goes back to December 4, 1850 when the City Council passed a law compelling trains on the streets of New York to be preceded by a rider on horseback, on block ahead of the locomotive, waving a red flag by day and a red light by night to warn pedestrians and prevent runaways of horse-drawn vehicles. This quaint law is still in force, and the New York Central must, until it rises above the street, provide its riders or suffer revocation of its franchise.

Two Mile Ride

The Tenth Avenue freight route extends from 30th Street south to St. John's yards below Canal Street, a distance of about two miles. To cover the operation of the various trains, a staff of twelve riders is maintained. These boys, who must all be over eighteen years old, are almost wholly recruited from Tenth Avenue and West Street, and strange as it may appear, riders are difficult to find, and only those who have, by strange fortune, learned to ride in the county are used, because a country boy knows and understands horses, and is thus prepared for any unexpected excitement that might affect his steed.

The "Ranch Boss" of these cowboys is the Superintendent of the New York Central Freight Yards, and since the law has been in effect two of the riders have risen from the range to the important position of Yard Masters.

The Ponies

The horses used in this unusual service are tried and true, and are perfectly aware of their important mission in life. They know traffic and excitement, thick fogs and blinding storms, the deep-throated adieus of departing liners and the tremendous thrill of screaming fire engines, but through it all they move surely and serenely, carrying out the Law of the City Council and giving opportunity for their gallant riders to amuse the passerby with amazing variation of the routine waving of the red lanterns. The effective term of duty of these mounts for this service is over eight years, duet to the special care and the use of rubber padding on their hoofs, and when their usefulness on the city pavements is over they are auctioned off at the Bulls Head Horse Market to continue their lives on softer turf in greener pastures.

London Terrace Towers