Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Naked Bronx

I was happy to see the Bronx appear as a minor character in “Murder Is a Face I Know,” an episode of Naked City that first aired January 4, 1961. (Gotta love those Naked City titles.) I recognized in an instant the fence to the left in the scene below: it encloses the green of Edwards Parade on the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University. A friend and I once sat just on the other side of that fence and split a bottle of white wine before a seminar. I was auditing; she was taking it for credit. To the right, Dealy Hall, home of the English Department and many other departments. We didn’t have far to walk. Joey Ross (Keir Dullea) though is running, and in another direction:

The same location in 2009:

Joey is running to meet his father Nicholas (Theodore Bikel), who works in a clothing store on Webster Avenue. Giovanni Famous Pizza now occupies the right section of Darnleys Sportswear & Slacks (or Slacks and Sportswear). Google Maps’ patented “This is your street on drugs” effect is visible in the split Giovanni sign:

Joey crosses Webster Avenue. If you squint, you can see the Third Avenue El in the background, to be torn down sometime after service ended in 1973:

In 2011, Sears still stands. The massive building to the east of Sears is 1 Fordham Plaza, an office and retail complex whose construction meant the end of the Eldorado Bar.

Joey meets his father, and together they cross Fordham Road:

Yes, Webster Avenue and Fordham Road both have many lanes for a pedestrian to get across, and I don’t think being stuck on the pedestrian island (in the 2011 image) would make me feel much safer. (A pedestrian island in the middle of a racetrack? No thanks.) In 2008, the Fordham-Webster intersection was deemed the most dangerous intersection in New York City. Plans are underway to make it safer. One detail: notice the two projecting signs for Surprise Ladies Wear, the same structures that served Kingsley (Kingsley what?) in the black-and-white world.

Late in the episode, we’re back on the (unnamed) Fordham campus, with a glimpse of the University Church and St. John’s Hall:

In 2009:

I know very little about what’s inside, but I do know that this church must be one of very few in which the word tappen has been spoken from the lectern.

This MTA map shows the Fordham-Webster intersection, with the two streets bounding the campus on the south and west. Staring at the tangle gives a good sense of the density of life at this intersection:

More Bronx tales
Elvis pretzels
Nick DeMaio and the Eldorado

[Naked City’s Horace McMahon (Lieutenant Mike Parker) attended Fordham Law School. In the Bronx, or in Manhattan? I don’t know. All color photographs from Google Maps. Click any Naked City or Google Maps image for a larger view.]

comments: 1

Adair said...

I can't believe that the Sears Roebuck survived, albeit with an updated (and far less beautiful) sign.