I came across a very cool website called New York Songlines. Their schtick is that they basically narrate Manhattan block-by-block and avenue-by-avenue.
So, for example, if you’re curious what the story is with 52nd Street (as I am), you go here and learn, among other things, that on the corner of 52nd and 8th “Political activist Angela Davis was arrested here on October 13, 1970, after fleeing charges of murder and kidnapping two months earlier. She was acquitted on all counts in 1972.”
Heading east on the north side of the block between 5th and 6th, you learn (the numbers at the beginning are street numbers, the links are mine):
51 (corner): The 38-story headquarters of the CBS network, built in 1965 as the only skyscraper designed by Finnish-born Eero Saarinen, architect of Dulles Airport and the St. Louis arch. The nickname comes from the imposing, triangular black granite pillars that run the length of the building. It was the first New York highrise to have a reinforced concrete (rather than steel) frame.
37: In 1948, Marlon Brando lived on the second floor of a brownstone here, in a room furnished with matresses, barbells, bongos and a hi-fi– and not much else.
35: The original location of The Onyx, opened as a speakeasy in 1927. On March 1, 1935, this became The Famous Door, a club bankrolled by jazz musicians, including Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey. The eponymous door was kept next to the bar, signed by the club’s backers and other notables who came to the club. No one knows what became of it when the club closed. Louis Prima was a headliner here; Billie Holiday made her Swing Street debut.
This is good shit.