If you go to the brownstone at 52 East 80th Street between Madison & Park…
…you’ll see the decapitated limestone head of a Greco-Roman goddess in the front yard next to some trash barrels (gives you some perspective on its size).
What does this sculpture have to do with New York’s incredible Ziegfeld Theater?
This head is the only remnant of the old Ziegfeld that one can still see on a New York City street.
The Ziegfeld Theater, one of New York City’s premier “movie palaces,” opened in 1927 and had a glorious life as a movie theater, TV studio, and Broadway theater until it was torn down in 1966 to make way for this piece of shit:
According to the Ziegfeld’s Wikipedia entry, this head was originally located on the front of the theater, though I’m not exactly sure where.
How did it come to be here? Apparently, 52 East 80th was once owned by Jerry Hammer, a theatrical producer. In the 1960s, he was riding past the Ziegfeld in a car with shithead developer Zachary Fisher, who mentioned he was tearing it down. Hammer jokingly asked if he could have one of the limestone heads. Four months later, he heard noises outside of his Upper East Side home – it was a truck lowering the head by crane into his front yard. Hammer moved out of the place in 1998 but left the head behind.
Are those two heads on either side of the upper balcony? Can’t tell…
In 1969, a second Ziegfeld opened up a few hundred feet from the original, and while the exterior is a mind-blowingly bland compared to the original, the interior is actually one of the nicest places you can see a movie in New York.
High praise to Hammer for asking for the head, and also for leaving it behind for New York to enjoy. Definitely swing by 52 East 80th Street if you’re in the area to see the last remaining piece of the once great Ziegfeld.
PS – That’s a pretty sick window array on the second floor of that brownstone.