Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nighthawks P.S.

One last thing about the Nighthawks diner search, especially now that the Mulry Square triangle is covered in plywood, readied for its transformation into a subway ventilation plant for the MTA.

I followed up awhile back on a suggestion by author Jack Womack to take a look at the photo book New York Then & Now by Watson and Gillon. In it, they include the following photo looking south at Mulry Square, the triangle in question, in 1976.

The stone building in the left foreground is the old St. Vincent's Hospital. The blank wall is where the Barney's painted billboard was recently.

A close-up shows the White Tower (not White Castle) burger stand on the left side of the triangle, and the old Esso has become an Exxon. It further cements the evidence that the remaining structure in the empty lot today is a remnant of the gas station's garage and not of a diner.

The "mystery diner" is on the right with its extended, glassed-in dining room beneath an awning--before it gained a second story. While I can't read the sign, it doesn't look much like Nighthawks. It's another dead end, of sorts--but not for people interested in hunting down old White Tower burger joints.

Presumably, any remaining remnants of the White Tower and the gas station are being demolished by the MTA right now.


Jim Holt said...

Have you considered the possibility that the Esso station structure itself was originally Hopper's diner? It has the right form and positioning, and the chronology is consistent with the composition of "Night Hawks." The idea is that the diner structure was converted to a gas station (and one of the glass windows bricked up in the process) sometime after the end of the Second World War.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Jim, i have considered it all, believe you me. check out the whole story through the links and you'll get all the details.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing the search, 3 years later...Maybe the Whitney, which had a Hopper show about 3 years ago, has some ideas. Or is that cheating?

klbazur said...

It would be interseting to see what if any signage is behind the Yavroom sign. thanks for a great story

NYCinFilm said...

I just read all the parts to your Nighthawks mystery and enjoyed them immensely... including the comments where "Anonymous" contributors would offer theories and anecdotal facts to the case.

The one thing I was wondering is if anyone considered this from an engineering point of view. Mainly, was the diner depicted in the painting even possible? That giant curved sheet of glass with a very minimal use of support beams seems quite difficult and (at the very least) impractical. I'm wondering if you have seen any other examples of this architectural design?

This question arose when I thought of another way to investigate this mystery; to research photos of any diners from this era (regardless of its location) and see if any of them look like the one from Hopper's painting. I couldn't find anything that ever came close. All of them would have large chunks of concrete separating the plates of glass.

laura said...

it is possible hooper sketched in several places. he may have combined the drawings, or added something from his imagination. great work of art. if it wasnt for the NYtimes artical, i never would have found vanishingnew york.

Bbethany7 said...

It's clear that the brick buildings opposite the diner are on 6th Ave. between 10th and 11th St. The diner itself is an algam of diners around Sheridan Square
on 7th Ave. between 10th St. and Bleecker St. BB