Adapted from Alex Palmer's new book, 'The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York'
On Christmas Day 100 years ago, plans were announced for the building of a grand monument in Manhattan—to Santa Claus. Designed by famed architects George and Edward Blum (who devised Gramercy House at 235 22nd Street and The Capitol apartments at 12 E 87th Street), the Santa Claus Building was expected to serve as headquarters for a number of youth charities, a resource for the city's needy, and a giant toy store, all packed into one stunning Beaux Arts building. But more than anything, it was to provide an international symbol of "spirit of Christmas"—a real-life Santa's workshop. The speed with which the press and public embraced the idea, and the reasons why it was never actually built, embody the optimism (or maybe naiveté) of the Jazz Age, and the fast-growing prominence of Christmas as a massive commercial event.