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Park Boulevard

The original layout of Park Boulevard (Blvd.) started in early 1936, with the construction of  the 'Park Blvd. Apartments'. This was on the corner of New York Street and what became Park Blvd.  and meets up and turns in to Blondie Street.  In late 1936, two additional structures were added to fill in the gap between the Park Blvd. Apartments building and the facades on Little Egbert Street. One of them was the Wolfe Home. Named so after the title character of the Nero Wolfe serials. By adding these additional facades, Park Blvd. was created.

The Park Blvd Apartment building was featured in the Movie 'Holiday' from 1938, with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. It was also the home of Irene Dunne's character in 'Penny Serenade' from 1941.
  Many serials of the time also used this facade a lot, including : 'The Three Stooges', 'Superman', 'Atom Man vs Superman'  and 'Batman' to name a few. In these, it has been anything from a Bank, an Apartment Building, a Hotel, and an Office Building. 

To the right: A view of the Park Blvd Apartment structure at the corner of New York Street and Park Blvd. as seen in the 1942 movie serial 'Boston Blackie'.

To the left: In the 1943 'Batman' serial, the Park Blvd. Apartments' doubled as the 'Gotham City Foundation' building. 

The two new facades that were erected in the gap between the Park Blvd. Apartment facade and the right side of the Little Egbert street facade, were, as mentioned before, the Wolfe Home (Named after the title character in the movie 'Meet Nero Wolfe'),  and another structure simple listed, as 'Bldg on 136 Park Blvd.' on a Blueprint of the time.



Between the Park Blvd. Apartments and the Wolfe Home was an Alley Way, wide enough for a car to drive through. Both facades were connected by a single suspended wall with windows, above the Alley Way. There was also a Fire Escape, mounted to the Park Blvd. Apartments side, suspended above the Alley Way.



Many early Columbia Serials utilized this portion as a backdrop in such serials as the 'Boston Blackie' serials, 'Batman & Robin', 'Captain Midnight' and 'The 3 Stooges' among others.

The Alley Way as seen in this shot from the 1942 serial 'Boston Blackie'. Left side is the Wolfe Home, Alley Way and to the right that Park Blvd. Apartments.

The Fire Escape on the Park Blvd. Apartments above the Alley Way. 

In 1943, a duplicate portion of the Park Blvd. Apartments facade was created in front of the Wolfe Home for short period, and can be seen briefly in the chase scene from the 'Batman' serial of that same year.

The Alley Way next to the Park Blvd. Apartments.

The false facade in front of the Wolfe Home with the Alley Way in between and the Park Blvd. Apartments.

Although the 'Bldg on 136 Park Blvd.' does appear in several shorts and movies, not much is known about it, nor is it ever listed anywhere having a name other than 'Bldg on 136 Park Blvd'.

 

As mentioned, it can be seen in many serials including the '3 Stooges'. One of its most significant appearance is in the movie 'My Name is Julia Ross' from 1945.

Above: The 'Bldg on 136 Park Blvd.' seen in a studio still from around 1940.

Right: 'The 3 Stooges' run in front of the facade in their short 'Even As I O U' from 1942.

In Sept of 1953, a fire broke out, that destroyed the entire block. Gone was the Park Blvd Apartment building, along with the Wolfe Home, Bldg on 136 Park Blvd. and the entire right side of the Little Egbert street. Even though quickly rebuild, some traces of its construction can be found on film in the 1954 movie 'Pushover' with  Fred MacMurray and Kim Novak. It was actually in production shortly after the fire happend and thus the construction of the new facades made it in to the movie.

A stitched together screen shot of the construction site formerly housing the Park Blvd. facades. New York Street is on the right.

The Park Blvd. Apartment building was reconstructed similar to its original Blueprint but with some major structural changes as well as cosmetic one. One major change was that the entire structure main support were steel beams, compared to the old wood poles the old one had. It also was enclosed completely and thus no longer a 3 sided facade, open back, as before.

The cosmetic changes included, the basement windows being omitted, nor were the balustrade window rails on the second floor. Instead, the separating ledge was raised above the second floor level to make the entire building look optically larger.

Left: a close up screen capture from an episode of Father Knows Best from 1955. No basement windows or separating ledge above the first floor windows on the rebuild.

Above: A stitched together view from the 1956 movie 'While the City Sleeps' showing the new redesign.

Although only reconstructed a few years prior, in 1958 the Park Blvd Apartments building underwent another remodel, coinciding with the reconstruction of the new Boston Rowhomes . This time the structure was 'split' in to two buildings.  The left side became reminiscent of a home in Manhattan and the right side received a high Arched opening where the front entrance was located.

An animation of the progression of the new remodel. First, (in small), the structure as seen in 1956. Second, (larger )the new Arched opening and 'separate' left side a few years later. Third, (full picture)the structure as it appears presently. 

This new design stayed unaltered for many years until around the mid 80's when the Arched Entry was removed and replaced with a plain recessed door and opening and a new window above it, matching the existing ones. The brick work (Staff Brick) above the second floor ledge was also replaced, with plain faux oversized gray blocks.

After the 1953 fire on Park Blvd., Columbia decided not to rebuild everything according to the original Blueprints, but rather go a different route. In siding with the same approach as they did with New York and Modern Street, (just 3 years earlier) to update the look and feel, to where it could be any 'city'  in the nation, anywhere. None distinct of any specific modern time period.

A panoramic view of the new Park Blvd. buildings.

In the case of the new structure on the site of the former Wolfe Home, they decided to go with a copy of architect William Schickel and his Beaux-Arts style design of John Daniel Crimmin's house at No. 40 East 68th Street in Manhattan. A very well known structure, and although not a full 1:1 copy of the original exterior, it certainly is a very close facsimile of it. Even the Iron works, curved glass panes and plaster works were duplicated. However, one major difference from the real home, is that, the Ranch version is one story less and 10 feet shorter in length.

The John Crimmin's house in Manhattan.

The semi copy of Crimmin's house on the Ranch constructed after the fire of 1953.

A comparison view of the actual house in Manhattan on the left (sans front door and stairs, top floor and right side), and the semi copy of it on the right at the Ranch during a winter shoot. The similarities are very noticeable.

As seen below, Columbia spared no expense in making this the most elaborate  structure on the block.  It received every bit of attention with Frieze ornamental plaster moldings, similar to the original house in Manhattan.

Since its construction, the new 'Wolfe' home has been featured in may films and shows throughout the decades. It was seen 'Dead Heat on a Merry Go Round' from 1966 with James Coburn. Also in Disney's 'The Happiest Millionaire' in 1957, albeit heavily obscured by a Matte painting, as well as Charlton Heston's house in the 1971 movie 'The Omega Man.

The structure with and without the Matte painting as seen in 'The Happiest Millionaire'.

A collage from the movie 'Dead Heat on a Merry Go Round'.

A dilapidated version of the structure seen in 'The Omega Man' from 1971.

The second structure seems to be a combination of a two Manhattan buildings  from the same neighborhood.  The bottom portion seems to be copied from the building on 33 E. 67 Street, while the top half seems to come from the building across from it at 32 E. 67 Street in Manhattan but without the ornamentation. The Ranch version matches both buildings window configuration almost perfectly.

The structure on the Ranch has undergone some changes over the decades however. At one point the second half up was clad with faux bricks and had gabled roof on the dormers, like the actual building in Manhattan.

Despite it being a fairly ornate structure, it is listed simply as 'Residence on Park Blvd' on the old Blueprints of the Ranch.

The building at 32 E. 67 Street in Manhattan.

The lower half of the building at 33 E. 67 Street in Manhattan.

Next is another structure simply listed as 'Residence on Park Blvd.' as well. However, observant Fans my recognize this as Diana Prince's Apartment building in Wonder Woman. It was also Max Merlin's home in 'Mr. Merlin' from 1981, albeit that it had a facelift for that show and received a more 'Victorian' like Bay Window and Front Entry way. 

The same structure seen just a few years later in 1981 when it became the home of Mr. Merlin.

The structure as seen here in 1978 during the Wonder Woman years. Home of Diana Prince.

After 'Mr. Merlin' was cancelled in 1981, the 'Victorian' Bay window and entry way were stripped and the whole structure was put back to its original look for a new show called 'Goodnight Beantown' with Bill Bixby. 

Unfortunately, after this show was cancelled as well,  the powers that were, decided to make a drastic change in the look of this particular structure. 
The two roof Dormers were removed and the entire outside was reclad with oversized faux brick. A new, two story Bay window was also added and the entry way received a squared off overhang.

The same structure as it appears in present day.

The last structure is at the corner of Park Blvd. and Little Egbert Street. It has a distinct Brownstone look, and is a mirrored duplicate of one of the structures that stood on Boston Street, which burned in 1974.  As with the other Park Blvd. structures, it can be seen in many films and movies over the past 7 decades. It remains fairly unchanged from when it was first constructed, however it did have some changes over time.

Left: The end of the Park Blvd. apartment homes as seen presently.

Right: The end of Park Blvd. as it appeared in 1967.

The biggest changes to the structure were in 1981 when the first floor windows were shortened and it gained a addition to the left, duplicating the lower portion. This was done for the short lived 1981 show 'Goodnight Beantown' with Bill Bixby. The addition stayed for a few years but finally was removed in the mid 90's. However, that long windows were not put back.

Above: The long windows as they appeared back in 1967 as seen in an episode of 'The Monkees'.

Above and right: The structure as it appeared back in 1981 for the show 'Goodnight Beantown'.

Since the new construction in 1953, it no longer is considered a facade. It is in fact a fully enclosed structure, although mainly a hollow shell with only the first floor having the occasional semi interior.

Left: The inside of the Park Blvd. buildings is just an empty shell with wooden stairs and ladders.

Right: The first floor of the corner structure on Park Blvd.  Only the walls visible from the outside are finished. 

The back of the entire Park Blvd. buildings. Left is the 'Bank' building, separated by the Alley Way and then the Park Blvd. Apartment building to the right.

Overall, the look of the structures on Park Blvd. has changed very little and is one of the few areas of the Ranch still remaining. To date, it is still being used actively for movies, shows and even commercials. There are two little known secrets of the Park Blvd. buildings. One is that they are actually one solid structure. Only the fronts are divided to appear as separate buildings. The former Park Blvd. Apartment building, also known today as the 'Bank' building and its neighbor, are one structure as well. The second secret is that the original foundation of the first set of Park Blvd. facades is still underneath the current one but can only be seen if one goes in to the crawl space below.