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On Location

New York

   

East Side
 

Barbra's singing career really began to skyrocket when she was booked at some of the more swankier night clubs on the East Side of Manhattan. Her engagements at Basin Street East and The Blue Angel were crucial events that established Barbra as a bone fide top tier entertainer in New York.

Barbra lived on the East Side too. For a brief period (around the time she was performing in "Wholesale"), Barbra called the not so chic tenement apartment at Third and 66th home. She returned to the neighborhood with Mike Wallace in 1991.

   

   
Basin Street East - 525 Lexington Ave.

Then and Now
 

In 1963, Barbra moved uptown to, as she has said, "a swankier nightclub" called Basin Street East. The club was an intimate showroom inside the Shelton Towers Hotel. The room was narrow and had several support columns running down the middle, providing some guests with an obstructed view. Barbra had to move her head from side to side while performing so as not to alienate certain sections of her audience.

The room can still be visited today and enjoyed for dinner. It's known as The Shelton Grill and is located off the lobby of the hotel, now called The Marriott East Side. The structure of the room is the same as it was when it was Basin Street East. It even has those those same columns in the center of the restaurant. With Benny Goodman playing and Barbra Streisand singing, a visit to Basin Street East was indeed a elegant night on the town during the 1960's. If you missed Barbra in 1963, you can still enjoy her Basin Street experience, which she recreated on her "Timeless" DVD.


At Basin Street East, 1963
 
(photo: Popsi NY)

 

 
The Blue Angel - 152 E. 55 St.

Then and Now
 
In New York's golden age of nightclubs, the East 50's were swingin'. Barbra was part of this scene in the '60's when she appeared at The Blue Angel on East 55 Street. The club was inspired by a cabaret in Germany made famous by Marlene Dietrich's 1930 film. The Blue Angel, along with the Village Vanguard were owned by Max Gordon.

Still in the infancy of her career, Barbra shared the bill at The Blue Angel with other more known entertainers. Regardless, her time at The Blue Angel and Basin Street East a few blocks away provided Barbra with show business legitimacy in New York and served as a platform from which her career would catapult in short order.


The Blue Angel fire then, and the site now

The original building which housed The Blue Angel was destroyed by a devastating fire on December 18, 1975. Seven people lost their lives. The tragic demise of The Blue Angel brought fire code reform to New York City. As a result, "The Blue Angel Law" was enacted requiring public establishments to install sprinklers, emergency lighting and central alarm systems. The structure that was erected on the site of the old Blue Angel gets our vote as the ugliest building in present day New York.


   
Jan Hus Playhouse - 351 E. 74 St.

Then and Now
 
In May, 1960, Barbra joined an acting troop in New York called The Actors Co-op. They took space in an off-Broadway theatre called The Jan Hus Playhouse. Their production was a satirical play called "The Insect Comedy" and Barbra would play four parts: butterfly, second moth, Apatura Clythia and messenger. It lasted three performances, closing on May 11.

The "The Insect Comedy" had a political theme which must have had a lasting impression on Barbra. Decades later, Barbra took then Secretary of State Madeline Albright to see a new production of the play


The Jan Hus Playhouse today

Barbra met a fellow actor named Barry Dennen while working at the Jan Hus. A friendship developed  between Barbra and Barry and it was Barry who arranged for Barbra to appear at some of her early club dates in The Village. The Jan Hus Playhouse still exists today (above) and is part of the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church. By the way, the playhouse was named for a priest and martyr who lived in eastern Europe during the 1400s. He is a national hero in the Czech Republic.


 
"Lowenstein's Office" - 4 E. 74 St.

Then and Now
In 1991, Barbra's production crew took over a small section of East 74 Street as she filmed the finale of "The Prince of Tides." A townhouse exterior served as Lowenstein's Manhattan office in the film.

Fittingly, the home is located in the most expensive neighborhood in NYC, right off of Fifth Avenue in what is urbanely referred to as the silk stocking district.


"Lowenstein's Office": then and now (for Halloween!)

 

   

Metromedia Studios - 205 E. 67 St.

Then and Now
In 1961, Barbra was a regular guest on the New York City based television show, "PM East." Barbra played sidekick to Mike Wallace on the talk show which also served as a singing showcase for her.

The studio was called Metromedia in 1961 and was located just down the block from where Barbra lived. Today, the studio is the home of FOX news and the local New York affiliate.

 



Barbra on "PM East" then, and Metromedia Studios now

   

The Walkup Apt. - 1157 Third Ave.

Then and Now
Barbra's career struggles happened early and were over quickly. As budding actors, she and Elliott Gould lived in a walkup tenement apartment on Third Avenue at 67th Street, conveniently above Oscar's Salt of the Sea restaurant. It had four rooms and commanded all of $60 a month. It also came with a live-in pet, a pesky little rodent Barbra and Elliott named "Oscar."

In a 1991 interview on "60 Minutes," Mike Wallace brought Barbra back to this location and visited the four room apartment she called home some 30 years earlier.


Barbra's Third Avenue apartment: then and now