Tudor City Greens
March, 2011
Stroll a few blocks east along 42nd Street -- from busy Grand Central Terminal with all the commuters streaming out and competing for yellow taxicabs -- and just before you hit East River you will notice the thick crowd thinning until, practically, there is none. You have just walked into Tudor City, a neighborhood so quiet you will forget you are in New York City.

Built by Fred F. French in the 1920s, Tudor City’s high rise apartment buildings turn their backs on East River to face the city instead. No windows were placed on the buildings’ back sides because slaughterhouses, barge landings, and warehouses lined the river. The view was too unpleasant (and the air perhaps smelly) for prospective building tennants.

To lure residents, Fred F. French created a park on either side of 42nd Street around which he constructed his tall apartment buildings. In contrast to the traditional courtyard layout where a park is enclosed within a compound's walls, Tudor City had it inside-out -- the buildings were erected to surround the parks.

But as demand for real estate grew and denser residential constructions soared in New York City, parks became a luxury. This was most especially true for Tudor City because its park was near the city's transportation hub, Grand Central Terminal.

In the 1970s a developer bought Tudor City and planned to erect skyscrapers on the park grounds. An argument ensued. The residents demanded that the park be kept.They claimed the park provided light and air as the buildings had no windows facing the river. The developer countered that the park was not a required service. So when the first bulldozer arrived, residents poured into the park and laid their bodies down to stop the bulldozers’ advance.

Surprisingly, the developer yielded. Plans for the skyscrapers were scrapped. Today, the park is maintained by volunteers and is privately owned but open to the public, including whoever may happen to stroll in from other parts of the city or, for that matter, the world.

Some say New York City is where America’s capitalist greed got its start. But what they may not know is behind the corporate facades of wealth and power, matters of conscience occasionally arise and even prevail in New York City.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
Tudor City Greens is central to the neighborhood.
Tudor City Greens south side of 42nd Street.
In the summer office workers from nearby buildings sit here to eat lunch.
Tudor City Greens on the north side of 42nd Street.
Stone stairs on either side of 42nd Street East leads to Tudor City Greens. This is on the south side
There are two children’s playgrounds -- one on each side of 42nd Street. This is on the south side.
Perhaps what makes a playground distinctly New York are the surrounding brick buildings and the skyscrapers of glass and steel in the distance.
Apartment buildings designed by Fred F. French in Neo-Gothic style face away from East River.
United Nations Building seen from 41st Street in Tudor City. A portion of East River is visible.
United Nations Building seen from 43rd Street. The UN site used to be slaughterhouse.
A building's entrance on 43rd Street.
Bike shop in Tudor City.
A flower school in Tudor City.Fred F. French named the neighborhood
View of 42nd Street looking west from Tudor City Place.
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