The Viele Map

Created by Egbert L. Viele in 1865, the Sanitary and Topographical Map of the City and Island of New York (aka the Viele map), shows the pre-grid, natural state of the island, including some 500 hills, 88 miles of streams, 21 ponds and 300 springs.
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I'm happy to now offer my walking tours directly on my (old, but still living) help research my upcoming book, I've developed a number of unique walking tours for a number of Manhattan's neighborhoods and districts. Please click the button below to view, or to book, a tour.

(coming soon, Tribeca: The Most Beautiful Warehouses in the World.)

And please look forward one day to Factory Island: The Inordinately Complex, Unbelievably Rich History of New York City on the Island of Manhattan.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ghost of the Broadway Central Hotel

My first post is a simple interesting one. I had just read Alone Together: A History of New York’s Early Apartments and had the book with me when I skated over to the site of the old Broadway Central Hotel (the west side of Broadway just north of the Bond Street intersection).  It was built in 1871 and collapsed, as a welfare hotel, in 1973.  The site is an NYU dormitory today. I saw a very distinct shape incised on the adjacent building where the hotel once stood. I pulled out the book and looked at a picture of the old hotel.  Sure enough, the mark on the building was left from the old hotel, sometimes referred to as a ghost or a palimpsest. Here it is...

Notice the distinct shape of the "Broadway Central Hotel" sign in the upper left corner. It juts out a bit from the main building...

The mark on the adjacent building (built after the above picture) matches perfectly...

The site of the old hotel today is an NYU dormitory (behind the trees). Also, you can see the red brick building from the old post card view is still standing!

Look closely at the side of the building above the tree branches!


  1. Bobby, this post and these photos are magnigicent! I love seeing New York through your eyes.

  2. Great blog! Like me, you take the time to stop and look up at our buildings to discover their unique beauty and history. I just started my own blog on it:

  3. Thanks so much, John, I'll check out your blog.


  4. Who told you the Broadway Central was a welfare hotel when it collapsed? It was the Mercer Arts Center, a theater complex! I saw a big show there a few months before the walls fell in. Take a look at this PDF archive and see what kind of a place it was...

  5. Oh, this is a great view into the past, love the photos.

  6. Love the photos of the buildings.

  7. "Rock Flow" was the first DISCO in NYC located in the Broadway Central Hotel! It was about 1966-7 that I went with a couple of girlfriends. We entered the lobby and off to the right curtains was the dance floor. There were strob lights, infused smoke and two live bands. It was a "far out" evening. Anyone else remember?

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  11. Definitely one of the coolest hotels in NYC! Thanks for sharing the pics, especially the "then" and "now".

  12. I found this post today and found some information about the hotel's usage. It was both a welfare hotel and a theater.