The New Yorker’s New York…an Ink Spill Map

Posted on 18th December 2013 in News

Maslin Big map New Yorker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   What better way to begin to close out the year here at Ink Spill than with a map of Manhattan highlighting some of the people and places most associated with The New Yorker. I’ve stayed away from current contributors & editors for privacy reasons – that updated map will have to wait a few decades. 

Here’s the who and why of the map:  people have a habit of not living in one place on the island of Manhattan.  For instance, Peter Arno’s Park Avenue pad was not his only New York City address  – it was his last city residence before he moved north to plant a garden. And Dorothy Parker lived in numerous places, but I’ve just indicated the address where she spent the last 15 years of her life.  Some of the names below are so well known that I’ve provided no information other than when they were born and when they died.  There are many more New Yorker writers, artists and editors who lived in the city but who do not appear on the map. Perhaps another map, another time. (I believe if you click on the map, it’ll enlarge and make reading much easier)

As you’ll see below, the Key is divided into Places & People.  Have fun!

 Places:

The New Yorker  has moved four times in its history, and will be moving again shortly, down to the new World Trade Center.  The map shows (in the circular zoom-in of the 42nd Street area) the four addresses:

1.  25 West 45th St  The magazine began publishing here in 1925  and remained at this address until 1935, when it moved downtown to…

2.  25 West 43rd St.  This magazine stayed here the longest, from 1935 until 1991. It was here that Thurber wrote and drew on the walls (a fragment of wall bearing Thurber’s drawings from here was removed and has since been relocated at  the magazine’s newer offices.

3.  20 West 43rd St.  Basically a move right across the street, just south and due east a few feet.

4.  4 Times Square.  The current address, but not for long. 

 

Bleeck’s  Artist & Writer’s (formerly Club) Restaurant  215 West 40th St.

Bleeck’s (pronounced “Blake’s”) was a regular hang-out for, among others, the Herald Tribune and New Yorker crowd.  It was here that something called the Match Game (not the one on tv with Gene Rayburn) was played with increasing seriousness (or maybe just increasing losses and gains).  And yes, that’s the actual name of the place, parentheses, singular spelling of “Artist” and all.  Decor was English tavern with wood paneling, heavy furniture, dim lighting and a tarnished suit of armor near the door. Life magazine  profiled the joint in its issue of November 26, 1945.

Costello’s  East 44th St. 

Once Thurber tired of Bleeck’s, Tim Costello’s place became his favorite place to hang. Like Bleeck’s, Costello’s was favored by more of The New Yorker crowd than you could shake a monocle at.  The murals Thurber drew here became the stuff of legend (and contention). 

The Algonquin  59 West 44th St. 

It’s not where The New Yorker began (it began in Harold Ross’s brain), but it’s where so many of its ingredients gelled, most especially around and because of the famous Round Table crowd. The Algonguin will always be closely tied in spirit to The New Yorker in more ways and for more reasons  than can be gone into here.

 

 The Corner of Madison & 42nd St

This is the intersection where the five month old New Yorker, just killed off by Raoul Fleischmann at the Princeton Club, suddenly sprang back to life as Fleischmann waited with his fellow business partners for the light to change. Fleischmann overheard John Hanrahan (Fleischmann’s publications advisor) say to either Ross or Hawley Traux (Ross’s financial expert), “I can’t blame Raoul for a moment for refusing to go on, but it’s like killing something that’s alive.”   Fleischmann later wrote that Hanrahan’s remark had “gotten under his skin” and so he changed his mind about closing The New Yorker and gave the magazine a reprieve.  The rest is, well, you know…

 

People:

 

Charles Addams  25 West 54th St. (b. 1912  d.1988) Charles Addams! Need I say more?

Peter Arno  417 Park Ave. (b.1904  d.1968) Harold Ross called him “the greatest artist in the world”  — Arno’s name appears on a metal plaque outside the old New Yorker offices on 25 West 43rd St..  William Shawn included Arno in his list of four New Yorker contributors and editors who “did more to make the magazine what it is than can be measured.”  (E.B. White, Katharine White, and Thurber  were the other three).

Donald Barthelme  West 11th St. (b.1931 d.1989) Writer.  Read his Snow White to understand why he was the toast of fiction world.

Ralph Barton  419 e.57th. ( b.1891 d.1931)  Cartoonist extraordinaire.  Ross included his work and listed him first in his Advisory Editors in The New Yorker’s very first issue (he was followed by Marc Connelly, Rea Irvin, George S. Kaufman, Alice Duer Miller, Dorothy Parker, and Alexander Woollcott).  

Robert Benchley  44West 44th St. The Royalton NY Hotel (b.1899 d.1945).  A member of The Algonguin Round Table, and so much more.  Humorist, actor, New Yorker Theater Critic.  Note that he lived just across the street from The Algonquin.  

Gardner Botsford  Grammercy Place (b.1917  d.2004) long time New Yorker editor of non-fiction, his writers included Joseph Mitchell, Roger Angell, and A.J. Liebeling. Step-son of Raoul Fleischmann.

John Cheever  Hudson & Horatio (b.1912 d.1982)

Peter De Vries 32 West 11th  (b.1910  d.1993)  Novelist, humorist, Cartoon Doctor. 

Alan Dunn  12 E.88th St.  (b.1900 d.1974) One of the most prolific of the magazine’s cartoonists.  Married to Mary Petty.

Raoul Fleischmann  955 Fifth Ave.  (b.1885  d.1969)  In 1924, when Harold Ross proposed he and Fleischmann start a “new comic paper” Fleischmann put up the money.

Wolcott Gibbs  East 54th St.  (b.1902 d.1958) Writer, editor, critic, playright (“Season in The Sun”) (New Yorker theater critic – he took over the job from Robert Benchley)

Philip Hamburger  East 80th St.  (b.1914  d.2004) Writer of non-fiction for The New Yorker for over 60 years (serving under all of the magazine’s editors from Ross to Remnick).  He occasionally wrote under the name, Our Man Stanley.

Gus Lobrano  West 13th St.  (b.1903 d.1956) New Yorker fiction editor from 1938 – 1956.  Following Lobrano’s death,  E.B. White wrote of him: “His contribution to The New Yorker was deep and extensive; it is hard to get it all down in a brief report. Probably his most telling contribution was this: that because of knowing and loving him many writers felt that The New Yorker was their home.”

Russell Maloney  413 East 50th St. (b.1910  d.1948) A wildly prolific Talk of The Town writer, on staff from 1934 – 1945.

William Maxwell  East 86th St. (b.1908 d.2000) Author & fiction editor to Salinger, Cheever, Nabokov, and Updike, among many others.

Joseph Mitchell West 10th St. (b.1908 d.1996) Writer. A New Yorker staff writer who became known  for not writing after writing so well for so many years.

Grace Paley West 11th St. (b.1922 d.2007) Writer

Dorothy Parker  23 East 74th St. (The Volney) (b.1893 d.1967)  Ms. Parker was perhaps the most, if not one of the most celebrated members of the Algonquin Round Table. One of Ross’s original contributors and listed as an Advisory Editor in the very first issue of the magazine. The subject of numerous biographies.

S.J. Perelman 134 West 11th St.  (b.1904  d.1979). One of the great humorists of the 20th century. 

Mary Petty  12. East 88th St. (1899 – 1976) New Yorker cover artist and cartoonist. (See Alan Dunn).

Harold Ross  52 East 11th & 412-414 West 47th St. (b.1892  d.1951).  Ross dreamed up The New Yorker.  Thomas Kunkel wrote an excellent biography of Ross, Genius in Disguise

J.D. Salinger  300 East 57th St.  (b.1919 d.2010)

Willam Shawn  East 96th St.  (b.1907  d.1992) The New Yorker’s  legendary second editor.  He succeeded Harold Ross in 1952.  Would someone please write a biography of Mr. Shawn.  

Saul Steinberg 6th Ave. & 11th St…and at the end of his life: East 75th St.  (b.1914 d.1999).  The New York Time’s front page obit labeled him an “epic doodler” – how  I wish they could take that back. The man was a genius.

Otto Soglow 330 West 72nd St. ( b.1900  d.1975) He created The Little King.

John Updike West 13th St.  (b.1932  d.2009)

E.B. White  A number of addresses, beginning with 112 West 13th St., and later, with Katharine White at 16. East 8th St., then uptown at Turtle Bay Gardens, and in the mid 1940s, 37 West 11th St.  (b.1899 d.1985) In his earliest days in Manhattan, White roomed  at 112 West 13th Street along with Gus Lobrano. 

Katharine White  Several addresses, including 16 East 8th St. (see E.B. White above). (b.1892  d.1977) The New Yorker’s first fiction editor. She was hired in August of 1925, and shortly thereafter was involved in nearly all editorial aspects of the magazine. Listed by William Shawn as one of the four who “did more to make the magazine what it is than can be measured.”

Alexander Woollcott E.52nd St.  (b.1887 d.1943) Wrote The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs” column, also the magazine’s drama critic. He was a member of The Algonquin Round Table, and was among those listed as one of  Ross’s Advisory Editors in the first issue of The New Yorker.   He shared the 412 West 47th St address with Harold Ross and his wife, Jane Grant.  Woollcott later moved to the very far east end of East 52nd St., the place Dorothy Parker dubbed, “Wit’s End.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addams in Southampton; A look at Peter Kuper’s New York

Posted on 12th October 2013 in News

 

9933668_2

 

From The New York Times, October 11, 2013 , “An Extended Addams Family; Ghoulish and Familiar Art at the Southampton Center”

(left: book jacket of Addams’ 1947 collection. Introduction by Wolcott Gibbs)

 

 

 

 

 

And…

 

drawntonewyork_kuper

From Brainpickings, “Drawn to New York: Counterculture Cartoonist Peter Kuper’s Illustrated Chronicle of 34 Years in Gotham”

Scudder Middleton, New Yorker Cartoonists Hand-Holder and More

Posted on 1st May 2013 in News

 

 

 

 

Does the name Scudder Middleton mean anything to you?  It meant a little something to me, but no so much…until recently when I decided to look a little deeper into his association with The New Yorker’s art department.

 

I’d seen his name on memos while sifting through the magazine’s archives in The New York Public Library, and recalled that Lee Lorenz, in his book The Art of The New Yorker, mentioned Middleton as an early artists hand-holder.  Mostly though,  Middleton was in my brain because of the following passage I remembered  from Thurber’s Years With Ross:

 

In the early thirties, Scudder Middleton, then the official handholder, was emboldened one night at the Players Club to say to Ross, How am I doing at the office?” and Ross, emboldened by Scotch, snapped, “You’re fired!”

 

 

It is Middleton’s role, however brief, as artists hand-holder that has landed him here on Ink Spill.

 

Lee Lorenz, The New Yorker’s Art Editor from 1973 through 1993, and Cartoon Editor from 1993 through 1997, recently told me in a phone interview  that the job of artists hand-holder back in the magazine’s earliest days was really no more than dealing with cartoonists who the Art Editor did not want to interact with. The hand-holder would relay the bad news to cartoonists that they hadn’t sold a drawing, or the good news that they had (along with instructions for required changes to the drawing before it was finally accepted).

 

Judith Lee in her well researched book, Defining New Yorker Humor wrote that archival material suggests Middleton acted as artist hand-holder while Katharine White was away in the Spring/Summer of 1929.  As Ms. White did leave New York  in the Spring of 1929 to obtain a divorce in Reno, the suggestion fits. It would seem that this moment also marked the beginning of Ms. White’s fade from her hand-holder duties. Middleton was the first of her assistants to be given the job (but not the first New Yorker staffer to have the job).  With Middleton’s departure,  hand-holding duties were turned over to another of White’s assistants, Wolcott Gibbs (Ms. White retained a working relationship with Peter Arno and Helen Hokinson and perhaps a few other high profile artists).

 

Middleton’s hand-holding days didn’t produce much to write about (I only came across one story of an interaction he had with a cartoonist – it’s not worth repeating here). What I did find interesting was his pre and post New Yorker history.  Thankfully,  Middleton’s  New York Times obit fills out his days following Ross’s “You’re fired!”

 

After leaving  The New Yorker,  Middleton  blossomed as an editor, working first at Stage, from 1935 through 1940, then at Tomorrow Magazine for a couple of years, then at New Movies (later renamed Films in Review).

 

A few interesting tidbits found among the New Yorker biographies, especially Harrison Kinney’s massive biography, Thurber, His Life and Times:

 

Kinney writes that Middleton, after assuming his new job at Stage, attempted to lure New Yorker writers away by offering them more money (a small irony here is that both The New Yorker and Stage were partially financed by Raoul Fleischmann).

Kinney also refers to correspondence between E.B. White and Thurber about a proposed jointly written play about Harold Ross and The New Yorker.  White says in his letter to Thurber, the book would “…have to include Scudder Middleton…”

Lastly, it would be unthinkable to leave Middleton without mentioning that he was a published poet, with at least one affair with a Big Name. Edna St. Vincent Millay  dedicated her poem “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed” to Middleton, and said of him, he was “ a poet with the romantic profile of a matinee idol.”

 

Middleton died at age 70,  February 26, 1959.  At the time he was a resident of Boston. Here’s a list of his published work, all still available in one form or another:

Upper Night (Henry Holt & Co., 1927)

Streets and Faces (Little book Publishers, 1917)

The New Day (Macmillan Co., 1917)

Dining, Wining and Dancing in New York (Dodge Publishing Co. 1938)

To read more on The New Yorker’s Art Meeting, here’s a link to Ink Spill’s “Posted Notes” section.  Scroll down to February 2012.

The New Yorker’s Art Meeting: A Potted History

Posted on 18th February 2012 in News

 

 

It’s tempting to believe that the structure of The New Yorker’s Art Department arrived fully formed in 1924 when Harold Ross, with his wife Jane Grant  began pulling together his dream magazine.  But of course, such was not the case.

 

What we know for certain is that once the first issue was out,  Ross and several of his newly hired employees began meeting every Tuesday afternoon to discuss the incoming art submissions.  The very first art meetings consisted of Ross, his Art Director, Rea Irvin, Ross’s secretary, Helen Mears, and Philip Wylie, the magazine’s first utility man.  In no short order, Ralph Ingersoll, hired in June of ’25  joined the art meeting, and later still, Katharine White (then Katharine Angell), hired in August of ’25, began sitting in.

From  James Thurber’s account in The Years With Ross we get a good idea of what took place at the meeting, which began right after lunch and ended at 6 pm:

In the center of a long table in the art meeting room a drawing board was set up to display the week’s submissions…Ross sat on the edge of a chair several feet away from the table, leaning forward, the fingers of his left hand spread upon his chest, his right hand holding a white knitting needle which he used for a pointer…Ross rarely laughed outright at anything. His face would light up, or his torso would undergo a spasm of amusement, but he was not at the art meeting for pleasure.

William Maxwell, who joined The New Yorker’s staff in 1936,  told the Paris Review in its Fall 1982 issue:

Occasionally Mrs. White would say that the picture might be saved if it had a better caption, and it would be returned to the artist or sent to E. B. White, who was a whiz at this… Rea Irvin smoked a cigar and was interested only when a drawing by Gluyas Williams appeared on the stand.

And from Dale Kramer’s Ross and The New Yorker:

When a picture amused him Irvin’s eyes brightened, he chuckled, and often, because none of the others understood art techniques, gave a little lecture.  There would be a discussion and a decision. If the decision was to buy, a price was settled on.  When a picture failed by a narrow margin the artist was given a chance to make changes and resubmit it. Irvin suggested improvements that might be made, and Wylie passed them on to the artists.

 

In a letter to Thurber biographer, Harrison Kinney, Rogers Whitaker, a New Yorker contributor from 1926 – 1981, described the scene in the magazine’s offices once the art meeting ended:

The place was especially a mess after the weekly art meeting. The artists, who waited for the verdicts, scrambled for desk space where they could retouch their cartoons and spots according to what Wylie, or Katharine Angell, told them Ross wanted done.

Wylie was one of many artist  “hand-holders” – the bridge between the editors and the artists.  Some others who held this position were Thurber (briefly, in 1927), Wolcott Gibbs, Scudder Middleton, and William Maxwell.  According to Maxwell, Katharine White’s hand-holding duties were eventually narrowed to just Hokinson and Peter Arno, the magazine’s prized artists.

Lee Lorenz wrote in his Art of The New Yorker that, in the earliest years,  the look of the magazine:

had been accomplished without either an art editor in the usual sense or the support of anything one could reasonably call an art department.

That changed in 1939 when former gagman, James Geraghty was hired.  As with so much distant New Yorker history, there’s some fuzziness concerning exactly what Geraghty was hired to do.  Geraghty, in his unpublished memoir, wrote that he took the job “without any inkling” of what was required of him. There’ve been suggestions in numerous accounts of New Yorker history, that Geraghty was hired as yet another in the lengthening line of artist hand-holders, in this case, succeeding William Maxwell, who was increasingly pre-occupied with his own writing as well as his editorial duties under Katharine White.

Geraghty, in his memoir,  recalled his first art meeting and the awkwardness of sitting next to Rea Irvin: two men seemingly sharing one (as yet unofficial, unnamed) position: Art Editor.   While E.B. White and others continued to “tinker” with captions, Geraghty began spending one day a week working exclusively on captions.   He also adopted the idea that he was the Artists’ “representative” at meetings, following Ross’s assurance  that Geraghty was being paid “to keep the damned artists happy.”

With these new components, the art meeting committee model stayed in place until the death of Ross in December of 1951.  When William Shawn officially succeeded Ross in January of 1952, he pared the meeting to two participants: Shawn, and Geraghty.

With Geraghty’s retirement in 1973, and Lee Lorenz’s  appointment as Art Editor, the art meetings continued with Lorenz and Shawn. Shawn’s successor, Robert Gottlieb and then Tina Brown, subdivided the Art Department, creating a Cartoon Editor, an Art Editor (for covers) and an Illustration Editor.  Lorenz, who was in the midst of these modern day changes,  lays them out in detail  in his Art of The New Yorker.

Today, the  Shawn model Art Meeting continues, with the current Editor, David Remnick, and the current Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff (and with a third editor occasionally joining the meeting) sitting down one day a week to look through the pile of drawings Mankoff has distilled from the mountain submitted to the magazine. The cartoonists no longer wait outside the Art Meeting’s door for the verdict on their work,  but I assure you: wherever they are on Thursday or Friday afternoon:  they’re waiting.

Wolcott Gibbs and New Yorker Cartoons

Posted on 10th February 2012 in News

 

Of all the duties Wolcott Gibbs attended to during his thirty-one years at The New Yorker (and his duties were many: editor, writer, theater critic), his relationship to the magazine’s cartoonists (or “artists” as the magazine calls them) is probably the least examined.

When Gibbs began at The New Yorker, working under Katharine Angell (later, after marrying E.B. White,  Katharine White), one of his duties was “seeing artists” — that is, he acted as the buffer between the editors and the artists, delivering the bad news or good news to cartoonists about work submitted;  if the news was good, Gibbs would relay instructions, if any, from the editors as to how to make the bought work work for publication in The New Yorker.

As his stock rose at the magazine, Gibbs went on to sit side-by-side in the weekly Tuesday afternoon Art Meetings with Katharine White, Harold Ross, and Rea Irvin.  Gibbs’ affinity with the magazine’s art went public in 1935 when he contributed a rebuttal, of sorts, to New Yorker Art Critic, Lewis Mumford, who had  issues with the work presented in the New Yorker’s Seventh Album. Here’s how Gibbs, in his piece titled “Fresh Flowers” responded to  Mumford’s quibble that the Album contained too much work that came out of “that special kind of temporary madness that springs out of a tough day at the office and three rapid Martinis.” :

 

This apparently refers to the work of a few artists characters whose characters belong to no particular land or time, and are held to the world itself only lightly, by the pull of a tempered gravity. They are the wilder shadows in the same wonderland that Lewis Carroll first explored, and are valuable to this collection as lesser examples of the same universal and timeless quality.


While continuing at the Art Meetings as an editor, Gibbs eventually passed his “seeing artists” job to a new-comer, William Maxwell,  who told The Paris Review in 1985:

 

A great deal of what was put before the art meeting was extremely unfunny. Gibbs was repelled by the whole idea of grown men using their minds in this way and seldom said anything.

 

 

Sitting in the Art Meetings, examining thousands upon thousands of “extremely unfunny” cartoons is one thing, but enjoying the work of masters of the form is very much another. It comes as no surprise then that for a quartet of New Yorker cartoonists, Gibbs was the go-to man for introducing collections of their work to the public.   He wrote the Foreward to William Steig’s 1942 collection, The Lonely Ones; the Foreward to George Price’s  1943 collection, Who’s In Charge Here?, and the Preface to Alan Dunn’s 1956 collection, Should It Gurgle?

 

In the Foreward to Charles Addams’ 1947 collection, Addams & Evil,  Gibbs wrote of the two camps of cartoons thriving in the magazine’s pages:

 

New Yorker cartoons can be roughly divided into two classifications, which, back in the days when I was the most insanely miscast of an almost endless procession of art editors, were conveniently designated as “straight” and “nutty.”

 

 

Addams in turn provided  three covers for Gibbs’  own work:

More in Sorrow (1958), Season in the Sun (1946), and Season in the Sun (the Play,  in 1950).

 

And way back in 1937, Rea Irvin, who, we can’t be reminded enough, shaped and guided the magazine’s art in its infancy, provided the cover and illustrations for Gibbs’ first collection of his New Yorker pieces, Bed of Neuroses.

Book of Interest: Conversations with William Maxwell

Posted on 3rd February 2012 in News

 

Barbara Burkhardt, who wrote William Maxwell: A Literary Life (University of Mississippi Press, 2005) has edited Conversations with William Maxwell (University of Mississippi Press,  June, 2012.

Maxwell, who joined The New Yorker in 1936, was originally hired as a hand holder for the Artists, taking over from Wolcott Gibbs, who had tired of the task.  The job required Maxwell to act as a bridge between the editors and the artists (with the exception of Peter Arno and Helen Hokinson, who were handled by Katharine White).  In an interview with John Seabrook for The Paris Review (No. 82, Fall 1982), Maxwell said:

It was called “seeing artists.” The first time they paraded in one after another I was struck by the fact that they all looked like the people in their drawings.

 

Video: Paul Noth; Eli Stein celebrates Al Ross’s 100th; New Book: a Wolcott Gibbs anthology

Posted on 26th October 2011 in News

From a blog by Peter McGraw, October 26, 2011, “Will these cartoons be funny in other countries?” - this post, including a short video of an interview with Paul Noth

 

From Eli Stein’s website, “We All Have to Start Somewhere Dept. Case in Point #16,” this post featuring work by Al Ross

 

From Salon, October 21, 2001, “The New Yorker writer that time forgot,” this review of a Wolcott Gibbs anthology, Backward Ran Sentences

[ in the earliest days of The New Yorker, Gibbs, as Katharine White's assistant, was  given the sometimes unenviable task of hand holder, which meant talking to the artists, sending them notes, handing them rejections, etc..

Charles Addams fans might remember that Addams illustrated several book jackets for Gibbs, including Season in the Sun (Random House, 1951) and More in Sorrow (Holt, 1958) ]