Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Old Landmark

Elaine called it first. Fourth and Bowery: we were there, at that corner, last summer, on foot, on our way to see an exhibit of Joe Brainard’s collages, drawings, and paintings. In the time of Naked City, the corner establishment, 359 Bowery, was The Old Landmark Bar and Restaurant. The Old Landmark appears in five Naked City episodes.

[Detective James Halloran (James Franciscus) pays a visit in search of information. “Line of Duty,” October 14, 1958. Click any image for a larger view.]

[Halloran again. “Beyond Truth,” April 7, 1959. In this episode the interior seems to be that of another establishment.]

“Killer with a Kiss” gives good glimpses of the Bowery to the south of The Landmark (the 7 Up sign) and north. Look — there’s the Five Spot Café, at 5 Cooper Square. Even if you don’t know jazz history, you might know the Five Spot from Frank O’Hara’s poem “The Day Lady Died.” By 1960 a sign with the establishment’s name had replaced the generic BAR & GRILL visible in “Line of Duty.” And by 1960 one or more buildings across 4th Street had been torn down for a parking lot.

[“Killer with a Kiss,” November 16, 1960. A drinker inspired by a missionary’s zeal pours out what’s left in her bottle. Burt Brinckerhoff, a near ringer for Anthony Perkins, plays a psychokiller posing as a blind pedestrian, waiting to cross the Bowery.]

[“Show Me the Way to Go Home,” November 21, 1961. Burt Brinckerhoff, Celia Adler, and Lois Nettleton take a break. The Old Landmark stands in the background.]

Here’s a last glimpse of The Old Landmark. I like the tattered awning, a nice urban touch.

[“Bridge Party,” December 27, 1961.]

Not only were we walking the Bowery last summer: we had lunch last summer at the establishment that now stands where The Old Landmark stood, Phebe’s Tavern and Grill. It was a lovely place for lunch, brick walls, an old wood floor, salmon burger, quinoa salad.

Here’s a post from an East Village-centric blog with some photographs of The Landmark. Dig the businessman’s lunch menu — quite a ways from salmon and quinoa. According to this post, The Old Landmark was in business in 1910. According to the New York City Municipal Archives (see below), this building dates to 1920.

And here’s one final look at The Old Landmark, as it appeared not in Naked City but in real life:

[From the New York City Municipal Archives Online Gallery, 1939–1941. Click for a larger view.]

The 29-DVD set of Naked City, all four seasons, is still available. A great value in television.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing your blog Michael. These incredible pictures certainly did brighten our day.
Your friends at Phebes's!
**We look forward to seeing you again soon in The Big Apple

Michael Leddy said...

I’m happy I could share these with you. And yes, at some point we will be back. Stay well.