Turtle Bay, Manhattan
Turtle Bay is a neighborhood in New York City, on the east side of Midtown Manhattan. It extends between 43rd and 53rd Streets, and eastward from Lexington Avenue to the East River, across from Roosevelt Island. It is the site of the United Nations Headquarters and the Chrysler Building.
Turtle Bay, which received its name in the 17th century, was a valuable shelter from the often harsh weather of the East River, and it also became a thriving site for shipbuilding. The Turtle Bay neighborhood was originally a 40 acres (16 ha) grant given to two Englishmen by the Dutch colonial governor of New Amsterdam in 1639, and named "Turtle Bay Farm". On a knoll overlooking the cove, near 41st Street, the farmhouse was purchased as a summer retreat by Francis Bayard, and in the early 19th century remained the summer villa of Francis Bayard Winthrop. Turtle Creek, or DeVoor's Mill Creek emptied into the cove at what is now 47th Street. To the south lay Kip's Bay farm; to the north, on a bluff, stood James Beekman's "Mount Pleasant", the first of a series of houses and villas with water views stretching away up the shoreline. After the street grid system was initiated in Manhattan, the hilly landscape of the Turtle Bay Farm was graded to create cross-streets and the land was subdivided for residential development.
An army enrollment office was established at Third Avenue and 46th Street, after the first Draft Act was passed during the American Civil War. On July 13, 1863, an angry mob burned the office to the ground and proceeded to riot through the surrounding neighborhood, destroying entire blocks. The New York Draft Riots continued for three days before army troops managed to contain the mob, which had burned and looted much of the city.
After the war's end, the formerly pastoral Turtle Bay neighborhood was developed with brownstones. By 1868 the bay had been entirely filled in by commercial overdevelopment, packed with breweries, gasworks, slaughterhouses, cattle pens, coal yards and railroad piers. With an infusion of poor immigrants in the later part of the 19th century, and the opening of the elevated train lines along Second and Third Avenues, the neighborhood went into decay with crumbling tenement buildings. Much of it was restored in the 1920s, and a large communal garden was established. The huge Waterside Station of the Consolidated Edison Company, producing 367,000 kilowatts of electricity in its coal-fired plant, marked the southern boundary of the neighborhood. By the 1930s, Turtle Bay was "a riverside back yard" for the city, as the WPA Guide to New York City (1939) described it: "huge industrial enterprises— breweries, laundries, abattoirs, power plants— along the water front face squalid tenements not far away from new apartment dwellings attracted to the section by its river view and its central position. The numerous plants shower this district with the heaviest sootfall in the city— 150 tons to the square mile annually". The blighted stretch of sooty darkness beneath the Third Avenue El (demolished 1956) separated the neighborhood from Midtown Manhattan.
Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan saw promise in the run-down rowhouses of Turtle Bay; in 1918 she purchased eleven houses on the south side of 49th Street and nine on the north side of 48th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues; within two years she had renovated the enclave called Turtle Bay Gardens. Her architects refaced the brownstone street-fronts with pale stucco, and rearranged the interiors so that service rooms faced the noisy street and living areas faced inwards, where the individual back yards were arranged so that each opens into to a common garden of trees and shrubs down the center. Having married Walton Martin, she then sold the houses to friends at cost, with property restrictions that kept the commons secure. Among the first purchasers was Maria Bowen Chapin, founder of the Chapin School. Celebrity residents since have included actors Katharine Hepburn, June Havoc, Ricardo Montalban and Tyrone Power, writer-director Garson Kanin, composer Stephen Sondheim, jurist Learned Hand, conductor Leopold Stokowski, editor Maxwell Perkins, publisher Henry Luce, journalists Dorothy Thompson and E. B. White, who wrote Charlotte's Web when living on 48th Street. It was designated the Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District in 1966.
The clearing of 18 acres (73,000 m2) of slaughterhouses for the construction of the UN Headquarters in 1948, largely completed by 1952, and the removal of the elevated trains opened the neighborhood up for high-rise office buildings and condominiums. In 1957, the Turtle Bay Association was formed by residents and property owners in hopes of guiding the development to maintain the neighborhood's quality of life. The Association's efforts have resulted in more park and landscaping development, creating the neighborhood's tree-lined and relatively quiet atmosphere.
Turtle Bay Association
The Turtle Bay Association is a neighborhood non-profit 501(c)3 organization that was founded in 1957 to protest the widening of East 49th Street, which succeeded. It now serves as advocate for residents of Turtle Bay.
Fujitsu operates an office at 733 Third Avenue. Avianca operates a New York-area sales office in Suite 2525 at 122 East 42nd Street. Ethiopian Airlines operates a sales office at 336 East 45th Street. Delta Air Lines operates a ticketing office in the 2 Grand Central Tower.
Missions to the United States in Turtle Bay include:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Brunei Darussalam
- Burkina Faso
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Republic of the Congo
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- The Gambia
- Republic of Ireland
- Marshall Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- New Zealand
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- United States
In popular culture
- Turtle Bay is the setting for a considerable portion of the Kurt Vonnegut science fiction novel Slapstick, as well as the location of the (fictional) painter Dan Gregory's mansion (in the brownstones of the E. 48th between 2nd and 3rd Ave.) in his novel Bluebeard.
- The animated series The Venture Bros.'s pilot episode is entitled "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay" and takes place largely at UN Headquarters.
- Turtle Bay is the location of a vacant lot in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, where the Tower takes the form of The Rose. Later, the lot is revealed to be the site of 1 Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.
- In the song "Stars and The Moon" from the musical revue Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown, a rich suitor promises to buy the singer a "townhouse in Turtle Bay."
- Turtle Bay, and specifically Beekman Place is home to the fictional character "Mame Dennis" in the novel Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, as well as in the Broadway play, musical and the films based on it.
- Turtle Bay is the home of the fictional lawyer Stone Barrington in a series of novels by Stuart Woods.
- Turtle Bay is the location of the "old willow tree" that is "long-suffering and much-climbed, held together by strings of wire but beloved of those who know it" that E.B. White writes "symbolizes the city" in his essay "Here is New York."
- Turtle Bay Association website
- "Map." Turtle Bay Association. Retrieved on January 25, 2009; "roughly 43rd to 53rd" are the parameters given in Pamela Hanlon, Manhattan's Turtle Bay: Story of a Midtown Neighborhood (2008:14), which begins its history with the 1950s.
- Dorothy B. Wexler, Reared in a Greenhouse: the stories and story, of Dorothy Winthrop Bradford 1998:39.
- Recollections of John Flavel Mines, in A Tour Around New York, and My Summer Acre, 1893:409.
- "A scrawny ledge of rock at the foot of Forty-Fifth Street marks the approximate location of Turtle Bay" (WPA Guide 1939:209).
- Hanlon 2008:19.
- WPA Guide to New York City. 1939:209.
- WPA Guide 1939:208.
- Christopher Gray, "Streetscapes: Turtle Bay Gardens" The New York Times,27 November 1988: accessed 5 September 2010.
- Gray 1988; New York Architectural Images: Turtle Bay
- Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District, 1966
- "History of Turtle Bay". Turtle Bay Association. Retrieved 2009-02-15.
- Hughes, C.J. (2008-03-2008). "In the Many Enclaves, One Neighborhood". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-15.
- "Worldwide United States." Fujitsu. Retrieved on February 4, 2009.
- "Offices rest of the world." Avianca. Retrieved on January 27, 2009.
- "Sales Offices." Ethiopian Airlines. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "Ticket Office Locations North America." Delta Air Lines. Retrieved on December 23, 2009.
- World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 20, 1975. "508.
- "Consular/Travel Information." Permanent Mission of the Bahamas to the United Nations. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "Address, Contact, Hours." Consulate-General of Germany in New York. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "Consular Department." Consulate-General of Israel in New York. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "Contact Us." Consulate-General of Jamaica in New York. Retrieved on January 30, 2009.
- "Consulate-General of Luxembourg in New York". Luxembourgnyc.org. Retrieved January 28, 2009.
- "Consulate-General of Nicaragua in New York". Consulate General of Nicaragua. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- "Ministry addresses in the U.S.." Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C.. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "Singapore Consulate in New York Mission Homepage." Consulate-General of Singapore in New York. Retrieved on January 28, 2009.
- Home page. Consulate-General of Ukraine in New York. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "New York." UK in the USA. Retrieved on January 25, 2009.
- "United Nations Member States." United Nations. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "Contact Us." Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "FSM Mission Address." Federated States of Micronesia Mission to the United Nations. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "Brief Overview and List of Staff Members." Permanent Mission of the Republic of Nauru to the United Nations. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
- "Ministry addresses in the U.S.." Embassy of Vietnam in Washington, D.C.. Retrieved on January 26, 2009.
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