From: Randall, March 1998
Back in the 70s when they couldnt tear down vacant 19th
century buildings fast enough, leaving entire blocks nothing more than bare
land.. there were MANY great buildings torn down. Dont forget the Armory at
34th and park...
Two that come to mind immediately were the Riverside and Riviera theaters,
96th to 97th st and Broadway built in the 20s, lasted just 50 years, and
having exterior facades made of shiney glazed white terra cotta, HUGE hand
made copper cornices, and in the case of the Riverside- one pipe organ with
a detached console in the "Japanese rooftop garden"
A large top floor theater above the main floor theater, and its' decor was
somewhat interesting, with plasterwork depicting ducks and birds and other
things. Over to one side was the organ chamber as I recall set up in a room
at an angle on the wall supported by some columns.
This organ was
unfortunately destroyed, all the traps that were metal and the like must
have been long stripped by vandals or taken for scrap as I saw none of
them, and of course the console was essentially destroyed where it stood in
the pit area by the stage.
Climbing up inside, I remember the 16' open wood pipes, and only remember
the organ had all wood pipes, either it had a few metal ranks that were
scrapped and thus gone, or it just consisted exclusively of wood pipes, or a
third possibility is there was another small enclosed division I may have
missed the access hatch to.
The console and the piano were wrecked by vandals, I remember all the keys
smashed and broken, and the rest of the casework being mangled over the
unknown period of time the buildings stood vacant before being torn down.
As is the case in NYC, smaller buildings are hand demolished, larger ones
use the additional resources of cranes, but dynamite was almost never used.
This organ COULD have been salvaged over the weeks and weeks of the actual
demolition , but it was not.
I took home a handful of the small wood pipes, a couple of stopped, and
probably a melodia with a lead flap tuner on the top as souvenirs, the rest
went into the landfill with the rest of the building.