First of all, this building is a bit older than I had thought: according to the NYC Department of Buildings website (for those who missed the earlier posts, that address is http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/bsqpm01.jsp), a “new buildings” permit for 1845 Broadway was submitted in 1883. Generally, this means that the building would have been completed and ready for occupation within a year. I found more interesting info on this little-known gem at www.startsandfits.com, a website described as “a log about land use and transportation” and run by Aaron Donovan, a Columbia University graduate with a masters degree in urban planning. Donovan has done some fine research on 1845 Broadway, and particularly its architect, Henry J. Hardenbergh, who lived from 1847 to 1918. In New York City Hardenbergh is best-known for buildings such as the Plaza Hotel, the Art Students’ League on 57th Street, and (perhaps most famously) the Dakota. He also designed the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., and several buildings on the campus of Rutgers University.
Donovan confirms that 1845 Broadway was completed in 1884, and has this to say about its age: “This building is so old it pre-dates the name of the street it is on. Before the name Broadway was extended north of Columbus Circle, the wide, park-enhanced road was simply called ‘The Boulevard.’ The original address for this building was 15-17 Boulevard” A perusal through the archives of the New York Times reveals that the building’s dance history (mentioned in the previous post) extends as least as far back as the early 1910s, when it housed Bustanoby’s Cafe de la Paix, an uptown branch of the influential restaurant. During the years after 1910, Bustanoby’s helped introduce the concept of public dancing to high society, starting a citywide craze. Newspapers were filled with reports of middle-aged men and women in evening dress, risking sprained ankles during incautious displays of the “turkey trot” and tango. Legend has it that a young Rudolph Valentino worked at Bustanoby’s as a “maitre de danse” – a dance partner for women who were either unescorted or saddled with dates with two left feet. I don’t know if Valentino actually worked at the 1845 Broadway Bustanoby’s or one of the other locations – any Valentino historians out there?
1845 Broadway retained its connection with dance into the 1940s, when it frequently offered lectures and performanes by Blanche Evan, a pioneer in the field of dance therapy. There was also an auditorium inside the building known as the Garrison Playhouse, along with a dance academy, the School of Creative Movement.
Due to the current decline in the New York real estate market, this building can probably be considered safe from destruction for now – but given the spate of development in Columbus Circle, there is no doubt that it will disappear some time in the future, unless the Landmarks Commission decides to protect it.