Back in 2010, I wrote up a weepy little post detailing a variety of since-vanished Manhattan locales that, as of then, I’d been unable to track down photographic evidence of.
As I explained in that entry, these weren’t so much pictures of storied landmarks, but rather shots of less celebrated, more esoteric places. In the ensuing five years, I’ve had some luck, having since discovered more photos of both the original Forbidden Planet and the old Trans-Lux movie theatre that used to stand on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side. There are still a couple, however, that have continued to elude my search.
One of the spots I detailed was a place I’d referred to as “the old Burlington Mills attraction on 6th Avenue.” Here’s what I had to say about it.
The old Burlington Mills attraction on 6th Avenue: This, if I recall correctly, was a block-long "ride" in the lobby of an office building in midtown that my mother took me to a few times in the mid-to-late 1970s. You'd step onto a conveyor belt, and it would slowly take you through a few rooms that showed film-strips of how Burlington textiles were made, including a big, bright room filled with hundreds of whirling sewing machines. It's sounds odd, yes, but my memories of riding it are pretty vivid, and I'd love some verification of it. I have, thus far, found none.
Indeed, I had spent many hours typing “Burlington Mills” into search engines and always came up empty. I couldn’t get my head around it, but started reluctantly thinking that maybe — just maybe — it wasn’t quite as significant an attraction as I’d remembered. Maybe it was just one of those particular things that you recall from your childhood that end up being no big deal when you re-examine them with the eyes of an adult decades later. I didn’t really want to believe that, but it seemed like the only answer.
How could that be, though? I mean, sure, there are things that I've probably embellished in my mind over the years, but this was something so big and specific. How could there be no record of it, let alone a picture or two?
Well, the reason I was continually coming up empty, of course, was because I HAD THE DAMN NAME OF THE PLACE WRONG.
Purely by chance, I was following a thread on a page on Facebook regarding a photograph of a certain fountain on Sixth Avenue. Sure enough, someone commented that it was part of Burlington House, which triggered someone invoking the OFFICIAL name of the damn thing I’ve been looking for. It’s not “Burlington Mills” (which is inevitably what my mom called in), but rather “The Mill at Burlington House.”
Now, type that into the search engine of your choice, and up come some goddamn results. AT LAST!!!
So, yeah, I was first brought to, ahem, The Mill at Burlington House at some point in the mid 1970’s, or around the same era this photo of me was taken….
Funnily enough, the Burlington House building is notable for its distinctive twin fountains. That's one of them at the top of this post circa 2007, courtesy of Daily Photo Stream. There’s a famous photo of my then-beloved KISS taken in front of them around the mid 70’s as well, that being this one.
Of course, me being me, I had to replicate this shot with my own kids back in 2013...
Little did I realize, of course, that it was in this same building where The Mill was once located.
There’s not a lot of documentation about the Mill at Burlington House, but I did find this authoritative page, which pretty much gives its full history. Evidently it was open for ten years, and ceased operation in 1980.
One wonders, what will my children remember?