15 March 2008

Just to Look At


No reason to post this old picture of Luchow's, the German eating hall that once dominated 14th Street near Broadway. It's just one of the losses to New York culture that I've always felt most keenly. It lasted 100 years exactly, from 1882 to 1982. I came to town to late to eat there, but soon enough to observe the empty, Victorian-style building (which should have been landmarked) for a few years before they finally tore it down.

Luchow's was truly a cultural landmark. During its heyday, Union Square was New York's theatre district. The beer hall was forever jammed with singers, actors and songwriters. William Steinway, a big deal in his day, ate there (his concert hall was right down the block). So did John Barrymore, Victor Herbert (who founded the ASCAP there), Arturo Caruso, Sigmund Romberg, Gus Kahn (who wrote "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" on a Luchow's tablecloth) Lillian Russell, and Weber and Fields, as well as writers O. Henry, Theodore Dreiser, O. O. McIntyre, Thomas Wolfe, and Edgar Lee Masters. Few restaurants in New York history have such a wealth of artistic associations.

There is an NYU dorm there now, and a P.C. Richards next door (on the site of the former Gramercy Gym). No artistic associations there. However, the company (still family owned) was founded in 1909, and I'd say it's a pretty good guess that the original P.C. Richards himself ate at Luchow's more than once.

3 comments:

Caryn said...

I left the city for a long time, and when I came back, it wasn't the theater district or the Deuce or the cleanup of anywhere else that bothered me, it was the sanitization of 14th street that got me the most. getting off the train in Union Square because I was heading for the palladium. there was always something so - magestic - about coming up the stairs and seeing the palladium's marquee. luchow's was always part of that postcard, so when i read this, it sparked all of those memories again.

Brooks said...

Purely by coincidence, I stumbled across these sweet old relics last night....

http://www.newyorkfirst.com/gifts/7106.html

When my parents brought me to NYC to begin college, we had lunch at Luchow's. Years later, when the city okay'd its demolition, I was stunned. The building was so beautiful.

Christian.Herr said...

When I was visiting for the first time New York City in 1972, I found an ad in a New York newspaper, announcing the special "Sommerplatte" bavarian style offered by Luechow's with all the delicious things like knuckles, rippchen, apple pie, etc. and that all together just for 7.25$! I took this ad home with me to Germany just for fun. Years later I happened to move for work into a small town between Hamburg and Berlin named Luechow, where I am still living. This year Luechow town is going to celebrate it's 850th anniversary. And thus there is (at least for me a close link between "Luechow's" of New York and my hometown. If You give me a hint how to place pictures in the blog, I can upload the "Luechow's Sommerplatte" ad for You.
www.luechow.de