Scavenger Hunt of Historic Murray Hill!

Monday, July 6, 2020

THE MURRAY HILL NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION

Scavenger Hunt of Historic Murray Hill!


This scavenger hunt has been designed for individuals and families to get outside and learn about the history of Murray Hill! The hunt will take you from 33rd Street to 38th Street and from Third Avenue to Madison Avenue. There are 22 items to be found in this hunt and you have a month to complete it—from July 4 through August 2. We encourage you to hunt at your own pace throughout the month!

To compete for the grand prize, take a photo of each of the items (22 photos in all) and either:

First prize winner - the entry with the highest number of correct items found (drawing in case of a tie).

First prize: one-night stay at the Shelburne Hotel & Suites by Affinia
Second prize: $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant of your choosing.

All entries will receive a t-shirt for each participant (while supplies last).

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT A GOOGLE OR INTERNET HUNT. IMAGES TAKEN FROM THE WEB WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED!!


In the 1750s, Robert and Mary Murray settled on land known as Inclenberg, roughly Madison to Lexington Avenues and from 33rd to 39th Streets, and built a beautiful home known as Belmont. Descendants of the Murray family lived in Murray Hill for many years and in 1847 registered "The Murray Hill Restriction" with the City of New York. This document made it illegal to build anything other than a "brick or stone dwelling" in the neighborhood, and allowed existing buildings to only be used as residences. No commercial uses of any kind were permitted. For example, tanneries, breweries, and "exhibitions of wild animals" were completely forbidden. The Restriction is one reason that Murray Hill is such a residential neighborhood. Today, over 250 homes in Murray Hill are listed on The National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood also has two separate and distinct Historic Districts and 14 individual landmarked buildings, some of which you will learn more about in our hunt!


  1. Until the early 1970s, the 71st Regiment Armory building was located on the southern border of Murray Hill. The 71st Regiment fought at Gettysburg, and in the Spanish-American War alongside the Rough Riders at the Battle of San Juan Hill. The armory was replaced in 1976 by a 42-story skyscraper, whose lower floors housed the former Norman Thomas High School, named for a founder of the American Socialist Party. Currently, four smaller high schools are housed in the building.

    Make your way to the Park Avenue side of the building and take a picture of the bronze plaque honoring the regiment (photo 1)

    Next, find the remnants of the Armory’s foundation wall and take a photo (photo 2) (hint … it’s just down the stairs behind you).

    Continue down the stairs and enter Murray Hill's 33rd Street subway station, one of the original 28 stations on the Interborough Rapid Transit, or IRT, completed in 1904. The station is a NYC and National Historic Landmark. Eagle plaques with the number "33" were placed in the station to indicate an armory was located above it. The station still has its beautiful faience eagle plaques by Heins & LaFarge dating from 1904, and mosaic ones from 1925, when the station was reconfigured. 

    Please take a photo of one of the eagle plaques (photo 3)
     
    71st Regiment Armory
    https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/armories/NewYorkCityParkAvenue71stRegiment_photos_2.html

     
  2. After leaving the former armory site, walk north on Park Avenue. At 35th Street, you will find yourself at the beginning of one of
    Murray Hill’s historic districts, the Murray Hill Historic District. It runs from 35th Street to 38th Street, and from Park Avenue to Lexington Avenue.

    Did you know that Murray Hill has two historic districts? They are the Murray Hill Historic District and Sniffen Court. Both have been designated as such by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission for their “special character or unique historical, architectural and esthetic interest.” Buildings in historic districts are protected from change and demolition. In 1989, on the 25th anniversary of the Landmarks Law, special brown-colored street signage was introduced to differentiate historic districts in New York City.

    As you explore this area, please take photos of four different historic district street signs in the Murray Hill Historic District (photos 4, 5, 6, 7)
     

    Example of an historic district street sign elsewhere in the city. 

     

  3. The Landmarks Preservation Commission also provides special historic district markers for areas designated as such. These markers show a map of the area on one side, and provide a short overview of its history on the other. Three of the streets in the historic district have a marker.

    Find one of the historic district markers in the Murray Hill Historic District and take a picture of it (photo 8)
     
    Example of an historic district marker elsewhere in the city.
     

  4. Cultural Medallions are oval-shaped, black, white, and terracotta-colored plaques placed as a commemoration on the former homes of notable New Yorkers. Murray Hill has four Cultural Medallions on the former homes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Dana Gibson, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and Malvina Hoffman.

    Three of these medallions are located in the Murray Hill Historic District and one is on the outskirts, just down the hill from Jessica Tandy.

    Please take pictures of all four Cultural Medallions (photos 9, 10, 11, 12

    Example of a Cultural Medallion elsewhere in the city.
     
     
  5. The above-mentioned Malvina Hoffman was a sculptor who lived and worked in Murray Hill from 1914-1966. She studied under Rodin, and is perhaps best remembered for her “Races of Mankind” exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago, consisting of 101 life-size statues of members of diverse cultural groups as a result of her anthropological study trip around the world. Murray Hill has a work by Hoffman.

    Find Hoffman’s bas-relief sculpture of Greek horsemen that she created for the outside of her studio and as best you can, take a photo of it (photo 13). A leafy tree partially blocks it now. (hint…it is at the rear of Murray Hill’s famous courtyard lined with ten former stables that once housed the horses of Murray Hill’s wealthiest citizens, and the horsemen who tended to them. This lovely courtyard is now a national and local historic district.)
     
  6.  Have you ever noticed small buildings in Murray Hill that are only two or three stories tall? These are carriage houses -- buildings constructed to house horse-drawn carriages and the horses that pulled them. Murray Hill has two landmarked former carriage houses and one looks almost like a gingerbread house with a unique canine addition toward the top! Head to 38th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues to see if you can find it.

    Please take a picture of the bulldog who resides on this carriage house (photo 14)

     
  7. Make your way to the west side of Park Avenue and 37th Street where you will find the Union League Club. The Club was founded in 1863 by Republicans who left the Union Club as it failed to expel Confederate sympathizers. Frederick Law Olmstead, who co-designed Central Park, was one of its founding members. Other notable former members include Ulysses S. Grant and J.P. Morgan.

    The Union League Club was built in 1931 on land purchased from J.P. Morgan II and is now a New York City landmark. It is the Club's fourth clubhouse. Women were not admitted as members in the Club until the 1980s, but wives and daughters of the members could eat in a special dining facility and had use of a fourth-floor lounge. However, they needed to enter the club via a separate (side) entrance. 

    Please take a picture of the former women’s entrance to the building (photo 15It is marked by a lintel inscribed with four female faces, around the corner from the club’s main entrance.
     
  8. Retrace a few steps back, cross the street, and look south down the beautiful mall in the middle of Park Avenue at 37th Street to find a plaque honoring Mary Lindley Murray, the neighborhood matriarch. Legend has it that Mary Murray had a role in the outcome of the American Revolutionary War by serving tea (maybe laced with rum?) at her Belmont home to British General Howe and his officers, who had just defeated the Americans in the Battle of Brooklyn. This coordinated and tactical diversion gave American General Putnam and his troops time to escape, regroup under General Washington, and fight another day. There are two bronze plaques honoring Mary Murray in Murray Hill.

    Find and take a picture of the first of these plaques (photo 16) (hint…it is on a boulder in a bed of beautiful flowers in the Murray Hill malls, cultivated each season by the Patrons of Park Avenue gardeners.) You will find the second plaque at the very end of the scavenger hunt!
     
  9. Walk west along 37th Street to Madison Avenue and find Murray Hill’s largest home, a Beaux Arts style mansion designed by C.P.H. Gilbert. It is a New York City landmark. The mansion was built in 1905 by Joseph De Lamar, a Dutch-born merchant who made his fortune in mining during the gold and silver rushes in the American West, and who built the mansion for his daughter Alice in an effort to get her accepted into New York society. De Lamar hired Charles Pierrepont Henry Gilbert, one of the most sought-after Gilded Age architects, who designed over 100 mansions for some of New York's and Brooklyn’s wealthiest citizens, including the buildings that now house the Ukrainian Institute and the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side. 

    Please take a picture of one of the shell motifs adorning the tippy top of the spectacular mansard roof of the former mansion (photo 17

    The De Lamar mansion was sold in the 1970s to Poland and the building now houses the Polish Consulate. The consulate commissioned a statue honoring Jan Karski, a hero of the Polish underground resistance during WWII, who reported the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the existence of Nazi-extermination camps in German-occupied Poland. 

    Please take a picture of the statue honoring Jan Karski and read the plaque honoring his brave work during WWII (photo 18)
     
  10. Now continue south on Madison Avenue. You will pass the entrance to the Morgan Library and Museum complex (a Renzo Piano-designed building connecting three NYC landmarks including the former homes of J.P. Morgan and his son). Turn left on 36th Street, and you will come across perhaps the most famous of the three McKim, Mead and White buildings in Murray Hill, the Morgan Library. Designed by Charles McKim, this building houses the collections of J.P. Morgan, one of Murray Hill’s most famous residents. There are thousands of items in Morgan’s collections, including three Guttenberg Bibles; manuscripts of nine of Sir Walter Scott’s novels, including Ivanhoe; one of the most important collections of Gilbert and Sullivan manuscripts; and scraps of paper on which Bob Dylan jotted down lyrics to “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “It Ain’t Me Babe.” The building is a NYC landmark and also on the National Register of Historic Places.

    The property is under restoration at the moment, but if you cross the street, safely away from the construction area, you can see over the construction barriers and will spot a gothic-style lantern hanging in the entrance’s vestibule. 

    Please take a picture of the lantern (photo 19) 
    John Pierpont Morgan in 1902
     
    Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

  11. When you leave the Morgan Library, go back to Madison Avenue, and continue south for one block to 35th and Madison. You will be standing in front of Murray Hill’s only landmarked church, the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation. This church was designed in 1864 by Emlen T. Littel, an architect noted for his ecclesiastical designs known as “parish gothic.” It is the last standing Littel church on Manhattan. The church was altered and enlarged in 1882 after a devastating fire that was so hot it melted all of the stained glass and destroyed the entire east end. All the beautiful windows seen today were completed and installed no more than a decade after the fire, and include works by Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge. The church and its parish house are NYC and national landmarks. 

    Please take a picture of the plaque outside the church (photo 20). Plan to return when it is fully re-opened to view the outstanding stained glass windows and other religious art inside.
     
  12. Across the street (35th Street) from the church, you'll notice an unusual and stunning townhouse, the former home and art gallery of one of J.P. Morgan's art dealers, Thomas Clark. Clark asked renowned architect Stanford White to redesign an existing townhouse just down the street from his famous client, and White came up with this unique multi-paned, two-story bowed window façade. The Collectors Club, dedicated to the collection and study of stamps, bought the building in 1937.

    Please take a picture of the unique façade of the Collectors Club (photo 21)
     
  13. You are at the end of your hunt now, dear scavengers, and probably hungry and thirsty. We recommend you stop at nearby Franchia, Murray Hill's vegan cafe on Park Avenue, open for outdoor dining and take-out Monday through Saturday. As you stroll east down the street in its direction, you'll come across the second plaque honoring Mary Lindley Murray.

    Please take a picture of the second plaque (photo 22)

Created by Laurie Sexton, a member of the Preservation and Design Committee, from various sources including Exploring Manhattan's Murray Hill by Alfred Pommer and Joyce Pommer.

Property of The Murray Hill Neighborhood Association, 212-886-5867, PO Box 1897, New York, NY 10156-1897, www.murrayhillnyc.org.

 

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