Harold – Buster – and Bergdorf Goodman – NYC Then and Now

Looking north up 5th Avenue towards the corner of W 57th, and the Bergdorf Goodman construction site at the upper left.  The trees at back are part of the Pulitzer Fountain Park.

Towards the end of Harold Lloyd’s manic taxi-ride driving Babe Ruth up 5th Avenue in New York during Speedy (released in 1928, but filmed during the summer of 1927), they approach W 57th Street, and the final of five traffic towers that once helped to regulate traffic flow along this major thoroughfare.  As I explain in my book Silent Visions, you can see at this corner the ongoing construction of the Bergdorf Goodman store, built on the site of the former Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion.  A stock footage shot of the mansion appears briefly during Buster Keaton’s debut feature film The Saphead (1920) (see photo, further below).

The W 58th Street facade of Bergdorf Goodman, facing the Pulitzer Fountain Park.  The oval and box mark matching details in the Keaton panorama below.  Microsoft Streetside (C) 2010 Microsoft Corporation

Scene from The Cameraman (1928).  The full panorama as Buster runs along W 58th Street from 5th Avenue.  He skips over a low wire fence that was part of the Pulitzer Fountain Park.

As shown here, eagle-eyed reader Andy Charity spotted that Buster Keaton ran west along W 58th Street from 5th Avenue, along the north face of the then-new Bergdorf Goodman store, during the scene in The Cameraman (1928) where Buster learns by telephone that Sally is available for a date, and races on foot down real New York streets to arrive at her home before she can hang up the telephone receiver.  Buster hops over a short wire fence during the shot that was part of the landscaping for the Pulitzer Fountain Park across the street from the store.

Both views show the SW corner of 5th and W 58th.  The Bergdorf Goodman store was built on the site of the Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion, shown as it appears in The Saphead (1920) to the right.  The arrow marks the same relative spot, while the corner of the Pulitzer Fountain Park appears in the lower right corner. The Cameraman images (C) 1928 Turner Entertainment Co.

Buster most likely did not realize as he ran past the SW corner of 5th and W 58th that the same SW corner appeared in his prior feature film set in New York.

HAROLD LLOYD images and the names of Mr. Lloyd’s films are all trademarks and/or service marks of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc. Images and movie frame images reproduced courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Trust and Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc.

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5 Responses to Harold – Buster – and Bergdorf Goodman – NYC Then and Now

  1. Carol Kiefer says:

    I love your website. I wish I had known about it when I was working on the silent film, The Artist, last year. Is there a way to contact you directly rather than post on the site? I am working on a WB film set in 1940s Los Angeles and I’d like to ask you a question. Thank you.

  2. Pingback: Silent Era New York – Harold Lloyd’s Speedy – Part 1 | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  3. Pingback: New York, Harold Lloyd, and Adam Sandler?! | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  4. Pingback: Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  5. Pingback: More Buster in Manhattan – The Cameraman, Part II | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

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