History of CBS Records 30th Street Studio NYC (many pictures)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DMortensen, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Well, I thought he did, but now I'm not finding them. @DMortensen? Nevertheless, here it is:

    Google Maps
     
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  2. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    49 E 52nd St? Dan and I walked through the Duane Reade October 2018, and in 2015 he went in and took some photos.

    Oct 2018 post:
    #2242

    Nov 2015 posts:
    #744
    #745
     
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  3. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Those are what I was thinking of, but for some reason they weren't coming up in a search.
     
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  4. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    Oh very cool. I remember seeing those posts but didn’t recall the context. Thanks! Looks like they repaired the facade to resemble its original architecture, or was it preserved under a false facade CBS put up for their renovation? I’m amazed it’s still there after all those changes and years.

    dan c
     
  5. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    That I'm not sure about. But here's a photo of it after CBS first bought the building:

    [​IMG]
    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 9: Juilliard Foundation demolition and reconstruction. The Juilliard Graduate School (previously the Vanderbilt family guesthouse) to become the CBS Radio Studio Building, at 49 East 52nd Street, New York, NY. The renovation in 1939 creates seven broadcast studios including one which accommodates audiences of 300 as well as for symphony orchestras. Image dated October 9, 1939. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

    And a few of how the building looked under CBS ownership:

    [​IMG]
    NEW YORK - JULY 17: Exterior of CBS Radio studio building at 49 East 52 Street, New York, NY. Image dated July 17, 1940. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

    [​IMG]
    NEW YORK - JULY 17: Exterior of CBS Radio studio building at 49 East 52 Street, New York, NY. Image dated July 17, 1940. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

    [​IMG]
    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 25: CBS Studio Building at 49 East 52 Street, New York, NY during the Great Blizzard of 1947. Image dated December 25, 1947. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

    [​IMG]
    NEW YORK - AUGUST 9: CBS Radio audience members wait in line outside the CBS Radio studio building at 49 East 52 Street, New York, NY. Image dated: August 9, 1949, New York, NY. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
     
  6. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
  7. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    I had no idea they had so radically changed the exterior and that Duane Reade had so radically changed it again to make it look more like it presumably did as a Vanderbilt house.

    That makes me want to buy my drugstore supplies there in the future.
     
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  8. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    While I'm not so fond of CBS' designs of the era, one might wonder if Reade was maybe required to restore the building by the city.

    Also, Duane Reade is part of the Walgreen's chain. If you have a Walgreen's store card, Reade will take it for your discount. At home, I like to patronize the local drug chain rather than Walgreen's.
     
  9. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Do they actually own the building? Or just lease space? I had assumed the latter.
     
  10. rkt88

    rkt88 The unknown soldier

    Location:
    malibu ca
    wonder if john hammond as a vanderbilt told anyone.
     
  11. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Now I am. What's there now is a replica:

    By year's end, the building will be clad in precast limestone -- known as glass fiber reinforced concrete -- which will look like the original limestone over a brick and granite base, said another principal at the firm, Richard Kronick. The windows will be framed with the same material. Mr. Kronick said the project reflects the streak of classical style that some corporate executives prefer.

    The new owner, the Fisher Brothers real estate group, is reworking the building to become the headquarters for its subsidiary, Plaza Construction Corporation. Charles Fino, Plaza's executive vice president, said that the re-creation of the building has a certain public relations value. The work, he said, will ''show our capabilities as a construction company and Fisher Brothers' commitment to New York.''
    [...]
    After 1920 the building held apartments and a midtown outpost of the Juilliard Musical Foundation, then at 120th Street and Claremont Avenue. In 1939, the building was sold to CBS, which was expanding from its nearby headquarters on Madison Avenue.

    At that time, the building was given its nearly windowless stucco face, with a ground-floor wall of glazed terra cotta in shades of blue and gray. Soundproofing isolated studies for broadcasting and recording. The building was described in a 1940 issue of Architectural Forum as ''the last word in broadcasting studio design and equipment.'' Fifty tons of steel were used to construct the studios, where some of the first radio soap operas, including ''Our Gal Sunday,'' were broadcast. CBS radio stars like Arthur Godfrey broadcast from the latest studios; Frank Sinatra and, eventually, Barbra Streisand recorded albums there.

    By 1988, the building was long past its technological prime. CBS leased it to Sony, which had just bought CBS Records. The building has sat virtually empty, except for a Duane Reade drugstore, since 1992.

    In recent months the modernistic facade has been stripped away, windows and doorways filled in with concrete blocks to meet soundproofing requirements have been reopened and a mansard roof is being reconstructed.

    Inside, the building, with eight floors plus a penthouse, is being turned into modern offices for Plaza Construction and other Fisher Brothers affiliates, as well as rental space. Fisher Brothers acquired the land under the Vanderbilt building, but not the building itself, in 1979 as part of the site assemblage for the Park Avenue Plaza office tower, using its air rights to build the 44-story tower that flanks the smaller building on two sides. It acquired the smaller building in 1993.

    A Mansion Will Wake Up To Find It's 1908 Again

    As above, the latter. A timeline:

    1979 - Fisher Brothers acquires the land under 49 East 52nd Street, but not the building, which is still owned by CBS.
    1988 - CBS leases building to Sony, which had purchased CBS Records, and Duane Reade moves in.
    1993 - CBS sells building to Park Avenue Plaza Company, an affiliate of Fisher Brothers.
    1996 - Fisher Brothers renovates facade to replicate pre-CBS look.

    Also, for another view under CBS ownership, Mark Wilder tipped me off to this:

    [​IMG]
    New York circa 1948. "WCBS studios, 49 East 52nd Street." Broadcasting in AM and FM. 4x5 inch acetate negative by John M. Fox.
     
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  12. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    Great research, Luke! Thanks.
    That Shorpy photo shows how striking the modern facade looked in contrast to the neighboring old brownstones.

    dan c
     
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  13. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Nothing directly related to 30th Street, but this just popped up about searching for a venue for David Letterman's CBS show, and finding selecting the Ed Sullivan Theater. Shades of Columbia searching for a recording studio location in the late '40s, and of course it was one of CBS's many properties in NYC:

     
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  14. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    I recently finished re-reading Ashley Kahn's wonderful book "Kind of Blue", about what you think it's about except better and real complete, and found a couple of discrepancies from what I think of as reality. One of them relates to the above quotes.

    While talking about "The Sound of Miles Davis" TV show, produced and hosted by Robert Herridge on the local CBS TV station, which was recorded on April 2, 1959 and broadcast nationally starting July 21, 1960, Kahn starts out and then quotes Jimmy Cobb on page 127:

    "The taping of 'The Sound of Miles Davis' took place in CBS-TV's Studio 61, a large room Herridge had intentionally left bare of any sets or other theatrical artifices. Jimmy Cobb recalled arriving at the studio:

    "'It was at Fifty-Sixth Street and Tenth Avenue. I walked in the door and it looked like a warehouse or something. The room stretched out and it actually had a terrible echo in it. I walked around it and there was a chalkboard with everybody's name up.'"

    W. 56th St. and 10th Ave. is on the West Side in Hell's Kitchen, now sometimes called Clinton by those wishing to clean it up ("Clinton" after Gov. DeWitt Clinton, who also has a park named after him in that neighborhood. CBS has a LOT of studios and other stuff in that general neighborhood, while I don't know that they have much on the Upper East Side, which is where E. 76th St. and 1st Ave. is. I was surprised to see that they had a studio on the UES, but presumably

    A) Ellerbee did his research;
    B) Unused theaters that can be converted into TV studios are where they are rather than where it's convenient; and
    C) Cobb could have been remembering the location of another TV date.

    So there's one thing.

    The other one was a quote from Frank Laico (page 101) about the origins of the old control room, which as we know was still in use in 1959 when Kind of Blue was recorded:

    "Our control room at that point was above the studio floor, up a flight of stairs. They had closed in the balcony of the church and through the windows you could look out and give directions."

    Keeping in mind that Frank was talking nearly 20 years after the studio closed and without benefit of either this thread or too much thinking about it but going on feelings, much like his assertion that the studio space was a cube 100' on a side, that was a reasonable explanation to someone who wasn't going to be able to go look at or measure things.

    For us, we know that the control room was built when the space was converted into a studio, or at least Gary and I know it and I'm telling you now, and we know that the floor space of the control room would have been laughable at any time in the building's life as a balcony, since it was relatively tiny and low.

    Still, this interview was nearly 10 years before I met Frank, and I sincerely wish I'd met him then. I don't doubt that his 80 year old brain would have remembered a lot more details than his 90 year old brain. But I wouldn't have met him then as it was still 7-8 years before he and his wife moved near Seattle. Still...

    We've together found and published a lot of details in this thread.
     
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  15. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    The CBS Broadcast Center is located at 524 W. 57th Street, which I believe is the whole block bounded by 56th Street, 57th Street, 10th Ave, and 11th Ave. So there was a studio there (never 61 though). Alas, however, the studios didn't come online until 1964. CBS had owned the building for some time, but it had previously been used as the CBS Production Center, which held rehearsal spaces, storage, offices, etc.

    CBS New York, Deep Studio History…Part 2 – Eyes Of A Generation…Television's Living History

    IMDB doesn't show any other TV programs that Cobb was in other the 1959 Miles show.
     
  16. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    That's why it's curious, then. He was specific about its location on the West Side, apparently unprompted.

    Actual New Yorkers can correct me about this, but the Upper East Side and the far West Side in Manhattan are almost as mentally different locationally as Illinois and Ohio, and this is almost like going to one and being confused about which one you were at and thinking you were at the other.

    I guess we'll have to ask him when we run into him.
     

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