Posted by Randall on January 28, 2004 at 17:59:49:
One of my research projects for my web site included the
Grand Central hotel, later named The Southern Hotel and finally The Broadway Central hotel.
It was erected in 1869 on several lots fronting 150' of Broadway with the main entrance at 673 Broadway. The site was originally a hotel and theatre, The Lafarge House. Edwin Booth appeared there and other well knowns, this was destroyed in an 1854 fire, was rebuilt and destroyed in another spectacular fire. The land sold for $1,000,000 to a wealthy gentleman who aimed to build the largest hotel in the country there. The hotel had 350 workmen building it, 7 acres of carpeting, 4,000,000 bricks were used.
The hotel was the scene of Railroad magnate Jim Fisk's shooting, and in the early 1970s when the hotel was a welfare hotel and deteriorated greatly, the rear of the hotel was converted into the Mercer Arts Center, a multi theatre and arts complex by Sy Kaback.
On a late August 1973 day, a section of the 8 story facade and the floors behind it all collapsed onto Broadway- killing several people, hundreds of patrons were due to attend the theatres that very evening...
I managed to locate and interview the Kabacks, who owned the theatres. I have a number of post cards and stereoviews of the hotel from the 1870s to about 1906, a couple of creamers and some artifacts.
I also located a fireman who was in the news when he dug out and rescued a dog trapped in the rubble of the collapsed section for a week, I have his story on the site with a few photos, as well
as some lines from a retired fire chief as to his estimation of the cause of the collapse.
I also have some articles and photos of the collapse, articles about the site's prior history, and some extensive material on the Mercer Arts Center along with some floor plans and so forth
The current featured building on my site is the Broadway Central Hotel , the direct url to the index page for the hotel is;
More material here, do not bookmark this specific url it WILL be changing as I process more photos and articles I just obtained;
the material there will be moved soon to the above index page.
I am putting out the call for any additional material, articles, photos etc to add to this. I have at least half a dozen more to add this week. I could use images of the Lafarge House and know there are stereoview cards out there of it I have seen one.
Webmaster, Randall's Lost new York City
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