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Formerly a decrepit neighborhood covered in soot from nearby factories, and caged in by elevated trains on 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Turtle Bay exited the 20th century as one of the nicer neighborhoods in Midtown Manhattan. In 1918 Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan purchased nearly the entire block of rowhouses between 48th & 49th Streets and 2nd & 3rd Avenues. She had them extensively renovated, faced with stucco and built quiet, secluded gardens in the middle. Having since been landmarked, the Turtle Bay Gardens have been home to many celebrity residents over the years. By the mid 20th Century the rise of the United Nation Headquarters and the fall of the elevated lines helped remove many of the unsavory elements nearby.
Photo source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.