1. The Many Lives of Madison Cottage

Top 12 secrets of NYC's Madison Square_Franconi's Hippodrome_chariots_circus_Untapped Cities_NYC_Stephanie GeierFranconi’s Hippodrome. Image via Wikimedia Commons

The Museum of the City of New York published an interesting piece on the evolution of Madison Cottage, which was in today’s Madison Square Park. By the 1840s, on the land that would eventually be the northwest corner of Fifth avenue and 23rd street, sat a popular road-house called “Madison Cottage.” It had many functions: a post-tavern, stagecoach stop, a cattle exhibition hall, and a gathering place for lovers of horse racing.

In 1853, however, it was razed to pave the way for a Roman arena called “Franconi’s Hippodrome,” which featured chariot races, wild animal acts and other circus-like performances. Its structure was a precursor to that of the modern circus. However, it was extremely unsuccessful.

In 1856, a huge change occurred: this circus arena was demolished and replaced by the luxurious Fifth Avenue Hotel, which had the first passenger elevators ever and whose guests were considered among the most socially elite in New York City.

Top 12 Secrets of NYC's Madison Square_Fifth Avenue Hotel_Manhattan_NYC_Untapped Cities_Stephanei GeierThe Fifth Avenue Hotel. Image via Wikipedia

About fifty years later, the hotel was razed and became the home of the International Toy Center, which is now home to Eataly.

Next, read the Top 10 Secrets of Times Square NYC, The Top 15 Secrets of NYC’s Union Square, The Top Ten Secrets of NYC’s Herald Square, and The Top Ten Secrets of Washington Square Park Get in touch with the author @sgeier97