A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 12, 2018
The Block Beautiful (East 19th Street, Gramercy Park)

"The Block Beautiful” is the name for East 19th Street, between Third Avenue and Irving Place. A few old homes were saved from demolition and refurbished, and the nickname “The Block Beautiful” has been cited in print since at least June 1914, when “A City Backyard Made Beautiful” by Harriet Sisson Gillespie stated in American Homes and Gardens

“When it comes to designing backyard gardens, there are innumerable plans to follow. It can be a replica on a diminutive scale of an Italian garden, like that which the architect, Frederick Julius Sterner has evolved at the rear of his house in the East Nineteenth Street ‘block beautiful,’ New York, or it can be a simple adaptation of the English cottage garden with trellised walls, picturesque vines, borders of sweet-smelling shrubs or old-fashioned flowers of medicinal value, after the manner of the old monastic gardens of the fourteenth century. It can be laid out by a celebrated landscape gardener or be the product of home planning and lose none of its beauty thereby.”


New York Architecture
“The Block Beautiful”
architect
various, renovated 1909 Frederick J. Sterner.
location
East 19th St., bet. Third Ave and Irving Place.
(...)
Known as “The Block Beautiful” - this is a row of mainly stuccoed buildings that were remodeled early in the 20th century by Frederick J. Sterner. The block was an informal colony for artists and writers in the 1920s and 1930s, such as author Ida Tarbell, painter Cecilia Beaux, and the sculptor Zolnay. Music critic and novelist Carl Van Vechten, lived at 151 East 19th Street and with his neighbors, painters George Bellows and Robert Chanler, threw wild parties, about which Ethyl Barrymore commented, “I went there in the evening a young girl and came away in the morning an old woman.”

Google Books
June 1914, American Homes and Gardens, “A City Backyard Made Beautiful” by Harriet Sisson Gillespie, pg. 196, col. 1:
When it comes to designing backyard gardens, there are innumerable plans to follow. It can be a replica on a diminutive scale of an Italian garden, like that which the architect, Frederick Julius Sterner has evolved at the rear of his house in the East Nineteenth Street “block beautiful,” New York, or it can be a simple adaptation of the English cottage garden with trellised walls, picturesque vines, borders of sweet-smelling shrubs or old-fashioned flowers of medicinal value, after the manner of the old monastic gardens of the fourteenth century. It can be laid out by a celebrated landscape gardener or be the product of home planning and lose none of its beauty thereby.

1 July 1915, Vogue (New York, NY), “Creating Arcady within New York,” pg. 44, col. 3:
With less than half a dozen houses, Mr. Joseph B. Thomas and Mr. Frederick Sterner brought into new being the block between Third and Lexington avenues on Nineteenth Street, known as “The Block Beautiful” of New York. With a little fresh green paint on the facades, with decorative iron grilles and balustrades, rescued from houses in the process of demolition, with window-boxes and bas-reliefs as ornamentation, this (Pg. 78—ed.) block became an oasis of color in the dust-hued desert of New York houses.

Chronicling America
31 October 1915, The Sun (New York, NY), “Beauty Message for City’s Ugly Brownstone Blocks,” fifth sec,, pg. 6, col. 1:
This is what happened in Mr. Sterner’s case, and his example proved the renascence of East Nineteenth street that was between Irving place and Third avenue, so that in time it came to be known all over the city as the BLock Beautiful.

Google Books
All about New York:
An Intimate Guide

By Rian James
New York, NY: John Day Co.
1931
Pg. 144:
POMANDER WALK
Pomander Walk, “the Block Beautiful,” lies just one block south of Gramercy Park, and is another happy, leisurely throw-back to the days when people had more time.

Google Books
Guide to Gramercy Park and Environs
New York, NY: Gramercy Graphic
1955
Pg. 20:
Among these was No. 135, home of Joseph B. Thomas, which Sterner made into a Gothic mansion with leaded windows; its interior was Renaissance, with ceiling and wall murals executed by Clara Fargo Thomas, Mr. Thomas’ wife, a noted mural painter. Mr. Thomas, for many years president of the Gramercy Park Association, initiated a tree-planting program, and eventually the street became known as The Block Beautiful.

Google Books
The Tastemaker:
Carl Van Vechten and the Birth of Modern America

By Edward White
New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2-14
Pg. 120:
by the fall of 1915 Van Vechten had been forced to attempt to live within his means, and his and Marinoff’s separate domiciles were traded for a single marital home, a three-room apartment at 151 East Nineteenth Street. They might conceivably have afforded a larger place elsewhere, but this was an achingly fashionable address. Tucked between Irving Place and Third Avenue and a stone’s throw from Gramercy Park, this is what the journalist Harriet Gillespie, in an article in American Homes and Gardens in 1914, had famously christened the Block Beautiful, many of the buildings customized and decorated with eclectic designs that made it one of the most (Pg. 121—ed.) attractive neighborhoods in the city, inhabited by dozens of celebrated people.

Google Books
Top 10 New York City
By DK Travel
New York, NY: DK Publishing
2017
Pg. ?:
End your day in the oasis of the Gramercy Park neighborhood. Stroll up East 19th Street, known as the “Block Beautiful,” for its handsome 1920s houses.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Monday, March 12, 2018 • Permalink