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 being 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.

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