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In 1956, Here's Where New York Opulence Met Modernism

Welcome back to Monochromes, a Friday mini-series wherein Curbed delves deep into the Library of Congress's photographic annals, resurfacing with an armful of old black-and-white photos of architecture and interior design. Have a find you want to share? Hit up the tipline; we'd love to hear from you.


In 1956, New York's Biltmore Hotel, a now-nonexistent hotspot in Manhattan's East 42nd Street, was the perfect meld of the city's pre-depression grandeur and post-war modernism. The common spaces were as indulgent as the owners, who undoubtedly fancied themselves proprietors of midtown's The Plaza, dreamed them to be: coffered ceilings, tent-like wall billows, and palm fronds sprouting out of lamps larger than man. Elsewhere the interiors were more the style of the era, with none of the softness or turn-of-the-century intricacies that wealthy New Yorkers seemed reluctant to give up. In the guest's rooms, furniture was mod and low-slung, with crisp bed linens, plaid armchairs, and sofas to hard-edged to be considered comfortable. More photos, plucked from the Library of Congress's Gottscho-Schleisner Collection, are below.

· Biltmore Hotel, E. 42nd St., New York City [Library of Congress' Gottscho-Schleisner Collection]
· All Monochromes posts [Curbed National]
· All Dwelling posts [Curbed National]