In the spring of 1940 Federal Census taker Katherine Lee began knocking on doors in Park Terrace Gardens. The sprawling five-building brick apartment complex sat on a hilltop in the Inwood section of northern Manhattan.
The rental complex designed by architect Albert Goldhammer had been constructed the previous year. The apartments and occupying tenants were all brand new. The rent on the deco-style apartments ranged in price from sixty-five to seventy-eight dollars a month.
During Lee’s visits to the four hundred units in the eight-story complex she met undertakers, lawyers, policemen, professors and even an entomologist. The residents were a mix of nationalities and included Russians, Finns, Austrians, Germans, Poles, as well as a great many native New Yorkers who had escaped more cramped quarters downtown.
Among them were two graphic artists: Martin Baumhofer and Arthur Sarnoff.
Walter Baumhofer: 70 Park Terrace West
When Lee, the census taker, visited Baumhofer’s apartment inside 70 Park Terrace West she found the thirty-five-year-old graphic artist living with his wife, Alureda.
Walter Martin Baumhofer was born in Brooklyn on November 1, 1904. His father, German immigrant Henry Baumhofer, was a clerk at a coffee company. During his early childhood, Baumhofer’s father would accept a janitorial position that included a rent-free apartment on Bushwick Avenue.
In 1919 young Walter blew three fingers off his left hand while playing with a round of live ammunition. Realizing the injury would rule out a career involving manual labor he focused on becoming an artist.
After graduating from high school in 1922 Baumhofer was offered a scholarship to the Pratt institute where he studied under H. Winfield Scott and Dean Cornwell.
In 1925, while working as an illustrator for Adventure Magazine, his Pratt painting teacher, H. Winfield Scott, suggested he submit his works for use as cover art in the popular pulp fiction trade. His first published pulp art appeared on the cover of Danger Trail.
For the next decade his works would appear on the covers of publications including: Gangland Stories, Doc Savage and Dime Mystery.
In 1937, after joining the American Artists agency, he began illustrating for higher end publications including Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Redbook.
His childhood injury left him unfit for military service in World War II.
Walter and his wife, Alureda, relocated to Long Island n 1945 where he continued to design magazine covers. After his retirement he painted landscapes, primarily Western scenes, and portraits.
He died in 1987 at the age of 82.
Arthur Sarnoff: 75 Park Terrace East
Another artist, twenty-seven-year-old Arthur Saron Sarnoff, lived next door in 75 Park Terrace East—known as the “D” building to residents. He and his wife, Lillian, had two daughters, Susan and Linda.
Sarnoff, like his neighbor, Walter Baumhofer, had also been born in Brooklyn. Sarnoff, also an illustrator, had studied at the Industrial School and Grand Central School of Art in New York City.
Sarnoff specialized in commercial art for magazine advertising campaigns that included: Lucky Strike, Coors, Karo Syrup, Listerine and Vicks Vapo Rub. He also illustrated for some of the same magazines as his pulp fiction neighbor in the building next door. He was regularly featured in Collier’s, American Weekly, Redbook, Esquire, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.
Of course his most enduring works were depictions of dogs shooting pool and playing poker. His painting titled “The Hustler” was one of the best-selling prints of the 1950’s.
Sarnoff died in Boca Raton in 2000.