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A Wild Winter Swan, by Gregory Maguire, takes place at Christmas time, 1960s Manhattan. Here’s a little album of some of the places visited by Laura, the fifteen-year-old protagonist of the book. (My review is posted at Historical Novel Society here.)

Laura lives with her grandparents at “Van Pruyn Place.” The locale is fictional, but all clues lead to Upper East Side. The center brownstone shown here looks the way I imagine Laura’s grandparents house to look, complete with garret. From her window she can see, across the street, “carved rooflines.” Photo via the fabulous blog Ephemeral New York

While this store is in the Village and this photo is 50 years later, family cook Mary Bernice’s favorite “little Greek grocery where the complacent owner sat on a stool by the door” might have looked very similar, sans ATM and grafitti. Inside, you’d find narrow aisles, high shelves, dirty floors, and in summer a radio tuned to baseball. The aroma would be divine. Photo by James and Karla Murray, via Slate

“I prefer Guardian Angel in Chelsea” [says Mary Bernice, the family cook…] but not in weather like this. Queen of the Angels will do in a pinch.” Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in East Harlem was opened in 1886 to serve the German community. It closed in 2007. Photo by Thomas J. Shelley, via

“…She caught sight of herself in the windows of Scribner’s. A cellophane cutout of a girl.” A beautiful illustration of Scribner’s Bookstore, from Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores, by Bob Eckstein, shows the store as it might have looked as Laura sees her reflection in its windows. The bookstore closed in 1989. Illustration via Lithub

Laura’s favorite bas-reliefs at Radio City Music Hall are “Morning, Present, Evening,” by Robert Garrison.

To give an idea of scale and placement on, a contemporary photo of the three reliefs, from left to right, Morning, Present, Evening, with the sign for Radio City Music Hall on the right. Photo via

“A naked woman on the back of a swan. A Pegasus. A one-armed man hoisted aloft by an eagle.” Photos via Photo-ops

“Well, he had a second arm but it was mostly hidden behind the outstretched wing.”

“She scurried uptown, crossing just at 58th to glance in the windows of F.A.O. Schwarz. Stuffed animals drowning in tinsel.”

“At the top of the Bethesda Terrace they paused. They were higher than that noble statue perched in the emptied and snowy concrete pond below.” Photo by Edouard Boubat, 1964, via Pinterest

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