This past Christmas, my aunt gave me a really neat gift she found in storage. Apparently, my grandmother took a trip to New York sometime in what must have been the 1950’s or early 60’s, and purchased one of those souvenir tablecloths with a cartoon tourist map of New York.
The artwork is great, but the real fun is in seeing how Manhattan was portrayed 40-50 years ago.
Starting at the north end of Manhattan (apparently smooshed with the Bronx), we find two iconic locales: the George Washington Bridge and the Cloisters.
Just south of them is the first oddity: NYU located next to Yankee Stadium?? In fact, NYU maintained a large campus in the Bronx up until 1973, when it was sold to the City University of New York.
There is only one unlabeled drawing on the entire map: this kerchiefed woman at a fruit stand between NYU and Grant’s Tomb. I’m curious if this is supposed to indicate a specific ethnic neighborhood…
…as they certainly weren’t shy about Harlem (placed on the East Side):
None of the outer boroughs are illustrated, though a few choice tourist attractions are. Just over the Triboro Bridge is the Bronx Zoo…
…and below it, “La Guardia Field.”
Heading back to Manhattan, we find all the old East Side reliables: the Met, St. Patrick’s, the UN Building, and the Queensboro Bridge…
On the west side, you find Radio City Music Hall, and the old Madison Square Garden.
The Madison Square Garden depicted, built in 1925, was closed in 1968.
Times Square is represented in a side image of its own. Both “Copo Cola” and “Chevrole” appear to be spelled wrong…Copyright fears?
Heading south, we find a bit of cramming: the Empire State Building on the same level as Greenwich Village/the Washington Square Park arch. Note the artist’s pallet to indicate those Bohemian weirdos.
Meanwhile, quite possibly the strangest inclusion on the map is Stuy Town, situated conveniently next to all three lower Manhattan bridges.
And even better, the Williamsburg Bridge takes you right to Coney Island! Sweet!
Finally, in the tip of lower Manhattan, we find Chinatown, Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
I was told this may have come from a visit to the 1939 World’s Fair. However, the inclusion of Stuyvesant Town, which was designed in 1943 and opened in 1947, seems to rule this out. NYU didn’t sell the Bronx campus until 1973, so that narrows the window a bit. Madison Square Garden didn’t move into their new facility until 1968, further closing the gap.
This colorful design borders the map on all sides:
In each corner is the seal of New York:
Finally, I love the New York City logo, with our state flower (apparently), the rose.
I’m planning on having this cleaned and framed. Any others guesses to the date?
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