by Tom Miller
In April 1908, Lilly W. Barney transferred title to the blockfront on the west side of Broadway between 86th and 87th Street to the Barney Estate Co. She did so, most likely, to protect herself from the property taxes. Within the year the Barney Estate Co. had erected a two-story “taxpayer” on the site. The term referred to buildings, normally no taller than two stories and most often temporary, erected simply to garner enough income to pay the property taxes until a more permanent structure was erected or the property sold.
The building drew inspiration from Arts & Crafts and Spanish Colonial styles. The red-tiled, overhanging roof sprouted stone Mission-style ornaments. The upper floors were entered through Spanish-style doorways on the side elevations, under an arcade and baroque parapet inspired by Southwestern mission architecture.
In 1926 the Liberty Music Shop opened in 2369. It sold victrolas, radios, records and supplies, and would establish a tradition in the space that would last for decades.
The panoply of stores along the block filled the needs of the neighborhood. In the pre-World War I years they included Edwin Dumble Co. interior decorators. Here designers or homeowners could shop for wallpapers, upholstery, furniture and cabinetry, or arrange to have their apartments painted and decorated. Also operating along the row was the Charles B. Brown floral shop, Rees & Rees dry cleaners and dyers, and the Roth-Carnegie Co.’s dress making establishment.
In the 1920’s a branch of the popular women’s store Lerner Shops operated from 2371 Broadway, and the Eme Hat Shop was at 2367. In 1926 the Liberty Music Shop opened in 2369. It sold victrolas, radios, records and supplies, and would establish a tradition in the space that would last for decades. It was replaced in 1930 by the City Radio Stores, and then Davega in 1933. The latter shop originally sold radios, but by mid-century had added televisions and major home appliances to its selection. It remained in the space into the 1960s.
Another long-term tenant was the Tip Toe Inn, a Jewish delicatessen, which moved into 2365 Broadway in 1921. Operated by the Case Commissary Corp., it was described as a “restaurant, bar and bake shop.” Founded by Russian émigré Aaron Chinitz, it touted its sandwiches as “a meal in itself,” and advertised “Tip Toe Inn Special Spaghetti with Chicken Livers, Garden Peas and Grated Parmesan Cheese” for $1.75. It was the scene of a frightening incident at 6:10 on the morning of January 2, 1931. Patrolman Michael J. Green was passing by when he saw two hold-up men inside. Patrons ducked for cover as he rushed in and shots rang out. One of the robbers was wounded and arrested while the other escaped.
Ten months after the Tip Toe Inn was held up, so was the United Cigar Store at 2381 Broadway. And like that robbery, it was done in broad daylight. At 10:00 on the morning of November 23, 1931, two men entered with guns drawn and forced the clerk, Walter Cohen, to open the safe. The Standard Union reported, “The robbers took $236, forced Cohen to lie flat on the floor in a rear room and escaped.”
Patrolman Michael J. Green was passing by when he saw two hold-up men inside.
The Tip Toe Inn made an appearance in a 2010 episode of the television series “Mad Men.” In it, character Roger Sterling takes Joan Harris there during their affair because there was “no chance of running into anyone, and of course, the cherry cheesecake.” The delicatessen would be a fixture on the block until 1970. That year New York magazine described it as “haute Jewish cuisine.” It was replaced in 2365 Broadway by a Sloan Super Market. Next door at 2363, the J. Berg Furniture Company had been operating since 1956 and would remain well into the 1970’s. When a Mrs. Fields’ Cookies shop opened in 2361 Broadway in 1984, the end of the line for the row of stores was on the near horizon. In 1986 a demolition permit was issued on the block. The exotic, two-story building that most likely was originally never expected to last more than a decade, was demolished to make way for The Boulevard, a 20-floor apartment building.
Tom Miller is a social historian and blogger at daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com
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