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The Liar's Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons by Vicky Ward

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Chapter 4 Harry's Hero

If you go through all the great dealers, who is the greatest real estate guy in history? Zeckendorf. . . . But he went broke.

—Samuel Zell

Harry Macklowe's love affair with the southeastern corner of Central Park had begun in the 1950s. He arrived in New York hungry, and wide-eyed at the possibility he saw all about him.

The place to live was “Park Avenue and 46th Street,” he recalled.

“People actually rode and traveled by train. There were porters . . . on the trains, ‘Here to serve you, yes, ma'am.’ They had long baggage carts they used to pull by hand. . . . Oh, it was my youth—my youth of 1959.

“[The developer] Erwin [S.] Wolfson was the sponsor of [the] Grand Central [City Building] (which would become the Pan Am Building). He bought from the New Haven/New Hartford Railroad the baggage handling [in the] back of Grand Central Terminal. So he was a visionary. Because here was a building, and it was straddling Park Avenue. So think about this. Before the building was built, you would drive down Park Avenue and . . . you saw sky.

“Railroad tracks went right into Grand Central Terminal. And the buildings that were on Park Avenue were grand; there were exposition buildings; there were apartment houses. You drove into what is now the Union Carbide, Chase building on 47th Street. Joe Kennedy lived there.”

Kennedy also had trysts with movie star Gloria Swanson in one of Macklowe's favorite spots, the Savoy-Plaza Hotel, a McKim, Mead and White–designed 1,000-room ...

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