The Orange Hut at Broadway and 54th Street still carries the outlines and contours of its former life as a White Tower hamburger chain restaurant. The last White Tower closed in Toledo, Ohio, in June 2008; the chain originated in 1926. There were about 230 White Towers at the chain’s height in the 1950s.
The restaurants have operated in at least 14 states, including New York, Illinois, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
The interior of the Orange Hut still contains some hints of its origins, such as swivel stools adjoining a counter. Here it is in its original incarnation, below. Pretty spiffy looking.
Photo by DVRBS
In the early 1920s a series of “White” themed fast food restaurants began to pop up all over the country. In addition to White Tower, there was White Castle — still going strong and, in fact, the one at Northern and Bell Boulevards a few miles to the east is in one of the original locations.
There are the White Manna and White Mana hamburger shacks in Jersey City and Hackensack. In the early 2010, hamburgers are bigger then ever with Five Guys and Shake Shacks popping up like weeds all over the metropolitan area.
Also at this intersection can be seen the elevated tracks at Northern Boulevard and Broadway. Commuter and intercity rail connecting NYC and New England has run here ever since the Hell Gate Bridge was constructed in 1916-1917. The supporting columns here were clad with concrete when it was built — but the concrete is now crumbling off.
The trestle is part of one of the most amazing transportation projects ever built: The tunneling of the Hudson River; the construction of the cavernous original Penn Station, bulldozed from 1963-1966; and the aforementioned Hell Gate Bridge, completed in 1916, a relative golden age of railroading in NYC.
The stretch pictured above emerges from the Sunnyside Yards and the tunnel to Penn Station. It joins with the NY Connecting Railroad at 25th Avenue and crosses the bridge across Randalls Island and into the Bronx.