Continuing the sad story of the destruction of the Mayfair building in Times Square, 701 7th Avenue, a look at the visual history of its big, wraparound corner billboard.
photo by Aylon Samson
Photographer Aylon Samson sent in the above photo of the building currently wrapped in a black demolition shroud, the last of its many costume changes through the decades.
NYPL, c. 1935
The building was originally home to the Columbia vaudeville house, then the Loews Mayfair.
The billboard has sort of always been there, framed in lights, heralding the big-screen movies inside. Like The Day the Earth Stood Still and a spectacular 3-D Jane Russell being chased by sharks in Underwater! That was the heyday of the 1950s.
(In some photos of the Mayfair, you get a glimpse of the Parisian Dance Land taxi dance hall--above Whelan's, in the lower right corner, next to the RKO Palace. The dance hall was featured in Stanley Kubrick's film Killer's Kiss. Read about that place here.)
Later, the Loews Mayfair became the DeMille theater, and the giant billboards continued, like this one from Jack Lemmon's Luv.
c. 1967, via Vintage Images
At some point, the movie theater was broken up into a triplex, called the Embassy 2-3-4, and stopped advertising on its own billboard.
Panasonic took over, looking rather dull, but with a useful note about the weather, and still keeping the old Mayfair shape.
photo: Matt Weber, 1984
In more recent years, it was covered with a clutter of Broadway billboards, instead of one big one, losing its distinctive look.
Once the building's demolition became imminent, the billboard was covered with black-and-white portraits of tourists, topped with a giant eyeball. (Yes, that is an army of people doing yoga in the middle of Broadway.)
Last year, the billboard was completely stripped away, revealing the building beneath for the first time in nearly a century.
photo by Aylon Samson
After the building is reduced to rubble, a giant glass box will go up, and Times Square will get a monstrous, wraparound TV screen.
It's no 3-D Jane Russell.
the digitized future
Mayfair's interior artifacts
Plans for the new building
Mayfair's exterior artifacts
Toys, Souvenirs, Jokes