Saturday, May 18, 2013

The pleasure palace

The second of four Manhattan structures to bear the name, this incarnation of Madison Square Garden, designed by Stanford White, was opened to the public in 1890. In this postcard view the building and nearby structures have been garishly outlined with the addition of glitter, which isn't readily visible in the scan. There is some lettering on the tower that appears to read "OPEN BY NIGHT."

In 1906, the year after this copy of the card was mailed to Mrs. Leo Keck of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the building proved White's undoing. While enjoying a musical performance in its rooftop theater, he was shot to death by Harry K. Thaw, the pathologically jealous husband of one of his former lovers, Evelyn Nesbit. Confined to a mental institution after two sensational murder trials (the first ended in a hung jury), Thaw was released after a few years and died a free man in 1947.

The building also hosted the 1924 Democratic National Convention, which took 103 ballots to nominate John K. Davis to run, unsuccessfully, against incumbent President Calvin Coolidge. It was torn down the following year.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

On Jordan Pond?

This card doesn't bear the Rotograph name or any other identifying markings, but the typography and layout are recognizable enough to classify this as a likely "cryptorotograph," possibly commissioned by a local merchant. I haven't noticed the bizarre capital "H" elsewhere, however.

Jordan Pond (the possessive, if it was ever used, has been dropped) is located on Mt. Desert Island within Acadia National Park. I've stopped there many times to eat popovers on the lawn of the Jordan Pond House, one of the few dog-friendly restaurants in the area. (It draws tourists by the busload but is worth a stop anyway.) The original structure, dating from the nineteenth century, was replaced after a fire in 1979.

But the postcard above is incorrectly captioned. Compare the prospect shown below, identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as Little Long Pond, which is a bit further to the south of Jordan Pond. According to the accompanying information on the website, the building on the left, which no longer stands, was at one time the Seal Harbor post office.

The two low hills in the center distance, which are known as the Bubbles, appear much closer and higher when seen from Jordan Pond, as below: