I got an email awhile back from a fellow named George Miller down in Florida. He sent along a couple of photo slides that his father took in Manhattan in 1943. He especially thought we'd be interested in seeing these two shots of Leon & Eddie's:
The first photo is taken from a very tall building (probably the RCA Building) and shows the roof of Leon & Eddie's painted in white with the words: UNDER THIS ROOF STARS SHINE ALL NIGHT. It's a rare view. And you get a great glimpse of 52nd Street before it was all bulldozed, back when it was known as Strip Street.
Here's Leon & Eddie's again, up close, complete with a sailor in the picture. It is 1943 after all.
I liked George's father's slides of the city and asked him for more. He digitized and sent along a handful. These were my favorites. Here's a wartime scene of Rockefeller Plaza. The statue of Prometheus is tarnished and grim beneath the words: UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER.
Nearby, a troop of young Nazis go goose-stepping past, decked in gas masks. This represented "The Militarization of Children," part of the Office of War Information's "Nature of the Enemy" exhibition, aimed to "expose the Nazi philosophy of 'fear, slavery, and death.'" (See more shots of the show here.)
After fear, slavery, and death in 1943 New York, you could head over to Larry Sunbrock's Big Top Circus on 50th Street behind the Roxy Theater. Sunbrock's circus didn't do very well and soon closed due to financial troubles.
It would return again to the city, however, and in 1947 Sunbrock's employee, a daring young man named John Ciampa, aka "The Brooklyn Tarzan," would be arrested after scaling the exterior of the Astor Hotel in a publicity stunt to promote the ailing circus.
Check out the incredible footage of Ciampa climbing tenement walls and running atop a subway train in Brooklyn here.
For more of this time in the city, read Jan Morris' wonderful book Manhattan '45.
And there's lots to see and read in these posts about Leon & Eddie's and Strip Street.