The Secret War on Social Security and Medicare
How Well Do You Sleep?

The Cult of Manhattan Tower

6a00d8341c85cd53ef00e54f5c5cfe8834-640wi Two or three times over the life of this blog, I have written about a 1945 recording titled Manhattan Tower. I was a little girl of no more than five or six when my parents obtained it when it was first released, and I adopted it as my own. I played those two 78s hundreds of times and I am convinced it is what began my love affair with New York City – nothing else explains my yearning to live there from earliest childhood.

The album is a love story to New York City, a suite composed and conducted by Gordon Jenkins with the lead performances sung by Eliot Lewis and Beverly Mahr. Never heard of them? Me neither – except on this album.

For the longest time, decades, I believed Manhattan Tower was a private obsession. But ever since I blogged about it in 2005, people regularly stop by having, I assume, googled the title. Some leave comments about how happy they are to rediscover an old favorite, and many others turn up in the blog stats having visited the page, but not left a comment. There is, apparently, a cult surrounding Manhattan Tower.

Having long lost the album, I found it a few years ago on a CD of old, old New York songs, some much older than these. A check yesterday at Amazon turned up a newer CD titled Manhattan Tower, but because it references the 1956 release, I can't tell if it is the version made in that decade with a different cast, or the original 1945 release. The one I bought is still available at Amazon, but only from outside vendors at a horrendously high price: $63.66 and $39.69.

Jenkins' arrangement is, by today's standards, overblown, grandiose and almost-but-not-quite sticky sweet. But that doesn't matter to me and other members of the Manhattan Tower cult. And the story, in a way, matches my own New York story, a city a still miss every day.

Now that audio is possible on this blog, I've posted the entire suite below. There are four movements, each about four minutes long. For those of you who don't find it too treacly – enjoy.

Magical Tower


New York's My Home

Love in a Tower

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson: What's Up, Doc?


Too treacly? No, just the right amount of music,sound effects,
schmaltz,love and longing.

I enjoyed listening to this suite and I am now officially a member of the Manhattan Tower Cult.....

Somewhere in the recesses of my old brain I have the name Gordon Jenkins and Manhattan Towers stored. They 'ring a bell' and I believe Gordon Jenkins orchestrations were similar to Morton Gould's.

I wish I could hear music the way it should sound because I can't remember what Manhattan Tower sounded like. There is just so much storage in this old brain. ;-) (This is the second time I have commented, but the first one didn't appear. If this is a duplicate, forgive me.)

Here's a link to a re-mastered version of the original from Sepia Records ...


I absolutely love Manhattan Tower and remember it well from my youth so long ago. Nostalgia city.

Thank you, Miki, but to be clear:

That CD is the 1950s re-recording on which Bill Lee and Shirley Mitchell sing the lead roles.

The original version from 1945 with Elliot Lewis and Beverly Mahr are what I have included in today's post.

Some people may remember and like the 1950s version; I prefer the original which is what I grew up with.

Even though it has been said above, my first reaction was pure schmaltz with a major touch of nostalgia. I too, remember with fondness for a different era; though as we all are aware, life does move on.
Thanks Ronni from another ex-New Yorker.


Nice schmaltz, Ronnie. :) Thank you.

I managed to finally listen and... Oh my gosh, Ronni!! What DRAMA!! There's no question that it would've had a huge impact on you at the age of 5-6! It's like an entire Hollywood movie made with the sole purpose of selling NYC! I wonder what was behind it at the time. Who financed it and why? Well, the WHY seems obvious. Selling NYC, as I said. But still... why? Why just then? Man-oh-man, they could've sold Cleveland with that backup! No offense, Cleveland. What fun to listen to that! Imagine what a typical teenager of today would think of something like that!

Thank you so much for this! I appreciate it immensely.
I saw the made-for-television movie in 1956 (?) not certain if that was the year it was on television. But for years and years I have wondered what ever became of that movie. There doesn't seem to be a copy of it at all. The only part I really remember was the Never Leave Me part. The song has remained with me all these years. I think the couple might have been in the Empire State Building when it was playing.
Funny thing, though, in my memory the man stayed in New York and the woman left. Don't know if that was really the way it ended on television, or if in my mind I "fixed it," because I would rather he had stayed. (As I believed I would, if I ever had the chance to live in Manhattan). I think this work had a lot to do with my deep love for the City as well.
Lucy (fellow Manhattan Tower Cult member)

Yes, I adored MT too; when I was young I first heard it on the radio. Though I am 62, I was not yet born when the original came out. Yet somewhere... in my childhood days of radio listening, some announcer must have loved the Gordon Jenkins piece...for they played it often. My favorite line? "'cause we're havin' a party, and the people are nice, and the people are nice!" What a heartwarming, evocative musical memory. Thanks, everybody!!

Thank you!! I have often thought of the lines "Never leave me. Never leave me." and related them to "Mahhatten Tower" on the radio in my young years with some sadness and yearning. I'm pleased to have found it at last. Thank you again.

I first listened to the old 78 at the public library with my first girl friend. Now I know what she was really trying to tell me.

Thanks for opportunity to hear the lyrics once again.

I'm 82 y/o and have remembered that music since I was a small kid. Only just now(2011) have I heard it again. What a joy.
I remembered Eliot Lewis too. He did a lot of radio work with his wife Cathy Lewis. Old radio adventure shows, but I don't recall which.

I was lying in bed on the threshold to sleep, reviewing these tunes, and wondering why? I think I was a teen when they played this on the radio.
So I got out of bed and tried an Internet search, and there you are!
Well, I ordered the CD from Amazon, it should arrive next week.

Wanted to swing by again to mention: I just saw "The Big Store" an old Marx Brothers movie, which I had forgotten contains an incredibly hokey version of a love song to a NY place - "The Tenement Symphony in Four Flats" sung by Tony Martin. If you are a fan of NY music...don't miss it. It's a hoot, and nowhere near as melodic and sublime as MT, but worth an ear and a giggle. And, you know, there was a time when the City of NY took on an identity all its own, and music writers like Aaron Copland, (Quiet City) Betty Comden-Adolph Greene (On The Town) and Richard Rodgers (Slaughter on Tenth Avenue) paid that notion homage. And music like this, even the corniest... never fails to tug at the heartstrings when we listen!

My father bought this album for my mother on their 15th wedding anniversary and sent my sister and me over to friends while they listened to it on the record player. I know it was the 1946 version because it was that year and they were married in 1931. I remember thinking "how romantic" but in retrospect, no boy friend or my husband was ever that romantic and years later, I am jealous of what my parents had. The music is still hauntingly beautiful. Gordon Jenkins did many arrangements for Frank Sinatra. I think Frank made a recording of Never Leave Me from MT. Thanks for the memories.

For decades, WVNJ used to play entire musical scores from 8 to 9 pm. When I was about 12,(1951),at home in Washington Heights, I heard MT and ever after remembered the line "I left my heart in that Tower, that Tower in Manhattan." Tonight, in my 10th floor condo in San Diego, I walked to close my balcony door, and the quote rushed into my mind along with GJ's name. A touch of Google, and here I am amid my fellow cultists. How warm and wonderful!
I lived in Manhattan (Wash.Hts.and Stuyvesant Town)until I was 34, then spent 29 years in Chicagoland before moving West. I empathize with all those hearts left in Manhattan where I must go at least annually to honor us all. Eileen Ward

Cindy again - and now, I am sad to reveal, my mom at 91 is showing early signs of dementia, which strongly points to Alzheimer's. Mother spent her younger years post WW2 singing with Tex Beneke and Saxie Dowell, and had a real gift for music. Interesting about Alz: many who have it cannot recall what they had for breakfast..BUT they can sing or recite entire chunks of dialogue from old movies, sing songs from that time, and mother's Doctor encouraged me to get her to play piano and sing whenever she feels the urge to do so. The other day, coming into the room I distinctly heard her picking out notes on the piano and, singing the "never leave me" segment - from MT. And she got well along into it before fading out. Her appreciation of this wonderful piece of music has not faded one bit, despite advancing dementia. Touching, really..

Great to find this site. I remember this from college and when I first heard it I was" mesmerized". Didn't get to NY til I was 27 & spent 10 yrs there, but still like the city and especially that music. EL

Surprised I never found this site until now. As a tiny child I played the original 78s over and over and completely memorized the suite. I remember when (but not how) one of the 78s broke. I was so upset, my dad bought the then-new LP version - not the substitute version, but one recorded by Jenkins, Elliot Lewis And Beverly Mahr. BTW, Beverly Mahr was Jenkin's wife. They made an LP released by Impulse, the jass label, called, "My Wife the Blues Singer." She always reminded me of Dinah Shore - a ladylike, white "blues" singer. Another BTW - not to shatter the romantic glow of the MT cult - but while in college, I began to revisit the LP (and collect every version of MT I could find - and there are lots). I played it for my hippie friends, who were amazed by the work at every level, from irony to...I don't know what. But if you really listen to the lyrics and put the story together (all right, I suppose a bit cynically) - it's a radical story or "love" that involves meeting a woman in a men's bar, spending the night together, wondering why "everyone in the Village seems so happy," characterizing artists as businesspeople ("dreams with price tags on them"), and finally, a frank and pretty shocking declaration of female independence - just listen to "Married I can Always get."

My sister had this album in the mid-1960s and I listened to it till I just about wore it out. For years I searched for it, remembering snatches of song and dialog, and a couple years ago I was able to get it thru ITunes. What lovely memories it brings back -- even if I wasn't a New Yorker, it made me fall in love with the city.

I cannot believe what I just began reading. I am shocked to put it mildly. The first few sentences blew my mind. For so many yrs. beginning sometime in the '50's and could have gone back into the '40's for all I remember. I was born in '41 so I would imagine that in the '50's "Manhattan Towers" got in my blood when I lived as a child in Wisconsin. I"d play that album & knew I just knew I had to live in NYC when I grew up. I did, I came to NYC in '59. I moved to Chicago for about 7 yrs. then NYC again then L.A. and now I'm back in NYC since '80 and will remain here until I die. NYC is my home and I type this as I"m looking out my window gazing at my towers.
Now I can't wait to read the rest of Kathy Smuz's experiences or what ever it is she has to say.
Thank you, Kathy!!

Whoops!!! It's not Kathy Smuz who wrote the story. I now see where it's Ronni Bennet who wrote it. I scanned the story and I too found a treasure in a Good Will of the 78's in perfect condition back in '77. Sadly I was so mobile it got lost. 78's are not easy to play today. I"m gong to try to see if it's on a CD but I doubt it.
OHHH Ronni I so want to thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories.

My parents had Manhattan Tower early on and they loved it. In Fremont, Ohio. I grew up on it and, wouldn't you know, I moved to New York as an adult 18 years later, and I have a copy of the LP (the original version).
I thought of the record recently in the wake of the immigration battle among the candidates and in Congress. The Emma Lazarus poem that appears on the Statue of Liberty is sung on the recording:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Whatever happened to this ideal?

Ronnie Bennett: Didn't we, back in the day, work together on WPLJ (New York)?

hauntingly beautiful

Ah, yes. In college (1955), one of the students "worked" as a DJ at the local AM radio station, playing mostly classical music and jazz each Sunday afternoon. He introduced me to the suite. It was to be nearly 30 years before I saw actual Manhattan towers, but I fell in love with the music - so much so that when, for my 18th birthday, my grandmother sent me money, I purchased the LP. Thanks for posting the mp3 files.

I found this on lp around the turn of the century and instantly fell in love,
It ha the great virtue of innocence

As I began reading the discovery of this album Manhattan Towers I thought to myself: When did I write this? The entire description was something I experienced directly. I'm from Green Bay, Wi. born in 1941, came to NYC when I was 18 and after living in Chi for about 7yrs. then in L.A. for 5 yrs. inbetween in NYC and now since 1980 here I sit on W.71st.St. NYC and will die here.

In the late 1960s when I was 9 years old I'd visit my Bubbe; after the obligatory kiss, I'd make a beeline for her apartment's guest room where, on a small stool in the corner, was an ancient maroon-leather-covered portable record player with a metal tone arm, a felt platter, and a 2-way 78/LP needle. I must've played the Manhattan Tower 78s dozens - if not hundreds - of times in the late 60s and early 70s. When my grandmother passed in the 1970s, I inherited both the record player and the Manhattan Tower 2-record set. I still have both! The phonograph stopped working years ago, and I'm kinda afraid to play the 78s on a vinyl player that still works. In the 1990s I purchased a Gorden Jenkins CD that contained the complete *original* 1945 Manhattan Tower and many other songs. My wife and I drove across the country with our 6 kids listening to the Manhattan Tower suite as a component of our mix - everyone's favorite song was "Where is Noah." Our kids - some of whom now have kids of their own - would love to knock on something and sing along to that song. There's something magical about the Manhattan Tower project in how both time and place are evoked. It's almost 2017 and the Manhattan Tower suite continues to have its allure.

The atmospheric power of music. I wonder why Woody Allen, with his fierce love for nostalgia, specifically with the signature NYC whiff of time-gone-by, has not picked up on this, in particular. MT is, in so many ways, a little 'movie'! Perhaps Woody has, kinda (but, not quite) Also an interesting question: what IS IT about a time past, visited musically... that makes us wistful, giving us that lump in the throat - when we hear this piece? Perhaps, a simpler life. Less hassle, less shrill and strident..women still wore hats and gloves. Everybody walked slower...hmm..

I have just acquire the 1946 version of it and loved it. Inside the cover on front and back is the hand written narrative, word for word. Even though it is a record I could visualize it all. Thanks, Darline

The 1956 version is an expanded version of the 1946 version that you have here...

From wiki :-
"In both recordings (1946 & 1956), Elliott Lewis narrates the story and Beverly Mahr is the featured soloist; in the Capitol version, they are given the names "Stephen" and "Julie," Lewis' singing was dubbed by Bill Lee. Stephen and Julie's brief love affair forms the context of the expanded composition."

When I was in 5th grade in 1960, I took jazz dance classes at a studio that presented a show every year.That year the show was Manhattan Tower. The cast consisted of dance students who were in high school and taking jazz and ballroom. My class performed a sailor’s hornpipe that the teacher inserted somewhere in the story. I idolized the cast and loved the show. It cemented my idea of New York, which sadly was dashed when I lived in Brooklyn for a summer in 1970 and worked in Midtown. It was a far cry from my vision, especially since I did not have any money to go anywhere nice. In recent years, the city has once again become more like that dream, and is my favorite city to visit. It is also worth noting that the character Julie was a proto-feminist. This show had a huge impact on me, and I am thrilled to relive its charms through the CD I just purchased.

The comments to this entry are closed.