Located on along a rocky ledge extending from 110th to 123rd streets, Morningside park, designed by Olmsted and Vaux, is comprised of approximately 30 acres. Morningside Park features a massive buttressed masonry retaining wall with a parapet, imposing entrance stairways, natural rock outcroppings, and curving pathways across the site. The park boasts three important sculptures: Lafayette and Washington (1890, by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty); the Carl Schurz Monument (1909-1913, by sculptor Karl Bitter and architect Henry Bacon, who is responsible for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.) and Bear and Faun/Seligman Fountain (c. 1910, by Edgar Melville Walter, a sculptor and student of Auguste Rodin).
Today we feature Harry T. Howell, a Bronx architect who appears to have been active in the Bronx between the years of 1897-1901. His work includes five rowhouses in the Morris High School Historic District and a series of Renaissance Revival tenements in the Bertine Block Historic District. in the Bertine Block Historic District, Howell designed eight old-law tenements with the intention that each building would house eleven families. Numbers 429-435 E.136th Street are clad in beige brick with limestone and white terra-cotta trim. Each of these buildings has a round-arched entrance framed by fluted pilasters, carved spandrels and alternating foliate and rope moldings. Numbers 439-445 E.136th Street are faced with orange iron spot Roman brick and trimmed with stone and white terra-cotta. The second and fourth story windows are capped by cartouches, while the rectangular windows of the third story are capped by shells with garlands.
For more information about these historic districts and other Bronx Landmarks visit our website.
On the west side of Central Park between 71st and 74th street is an area known as Strawberry Fields. Occupying 2.5 acres, the site commemorates the life of John Lennon and is also known as the Garden of Peace. Within the site is an iconic black and white marble mosaic centered around the word imagine. The mosaic references the title of one of Lennon’s songs, which envisions a world of peace. Created in 1984, the mosaic was a gift from the city of Naples, Italy.
On this day in 1974, the Queensboro Bridge was designated a New York City Landmark. Officially known as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, construction on the Queensboro Bridge started in 1901 to facilitate communications between Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the farms of Queens and Long Island. At the time of its completion in 1909, it was the longest cantilever bridge in North America. The bridge has been featured in several films including the Dark Knight Rises.
Fraunces Tavern, built in 1719, is the earliest of the 18th century buildings still standing in Manhattan. It is notable as the location from which George Washington said farewell to his officers after the departure of British soldiers from New York City in 1783, and as the space in which the New York State Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1768. Today, the building is a museum that focuses on the history of New York City as it relates to Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, and the Early Republic.
On April 21, 1966 members of the New York Mattachine Society staged a “Sip-In” at Julius’s to challenge the State Liquor Authority prohibition against serving liquor to “disorderly” patrons. The Mattachine members’ tactic was to enter the bar, declare their sexual orientation, and order a drink—knowing they would be turned away. The group then sued; their case prompted an investigation by the New York City Human Rights Commission and eventually they won a favorable court decision stating that gay people had the right to peacefully assemble. The Sip-In was therefore a significant pre-Stonewall assertion of LGBT rights and paved the way for the legalization of gay bars, as well as later political action.
Today marks the anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ memorial Arch, dedicated to the men who fought in the Union forces during the Civil war, is located at the southern side of the oval in Grand Army Plaza. The memorial is the dominant feature of the group of fine civic structures which mark the entrance to Brooklyn’s famous and beloved Prospect Park. Sculptors that worked on the project include Frederick William MacMonnies, William R. O’Donovan, and Thomas Eakins.
Photos: (1) Brooklyn Public Library (2) Wally Gobetz (3) Inetours
The Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House, although built in several phases, contains the oldest surviving wing of any house on Staten Island. Built around 1679, this section of the house is distinctive for its steep medieval type roof and boasts an immense Dutch fireplace with a huge chimney head supported on two wooden posts. Today, the house is part of Historic Richmond Town.
The Loew’s Paradise Theater, designed by John Eberson, is one of the most important atmospheric motion picture theaters to survive in the United States. Completed in September 1929, it was one of five so-called “Wonder” theaters built by the New York-based Loew’s chain to serve major population centers outside midtown Manhattan. Located in the Bronx, on the west side of the Grand Concourse, just south of Fordham Road, the theater incorporates many richly-decorated interiors, including an auditorium that seats nearly four thousand. Eberson, who invented this type of theater in the mid-1920s, designed the Paradise to evoke the art and architecture of the late Renaissance or early Baroque period.
Guests pass from the outer vestibule into the lobby, a double-height space with an elaborate coffered ceiling hung with a massive tiered chandelier. From here, one enters the foyer, and then, the grand lobby, a wood-paneled room with mirrored walls, decorative ironwork, and ceiling murals by painters Andrew Karoly and Lajos Szanto. A grand staircase leads to the promenade and upper foyer, which have iron balconies overlooking the grand lobby, as well as the men’s and women’s lounges.
The auditorium is reached from four separate levels. Resembling the garden courtyard of an Italian palace, it is vast in scale and retains the remarkable ability to astonish those who enter. A wide proscenium, flanked by asymmetrical walls punctuated by archways and sculpture, is silhouetted against a dark blue sky. The studio of Caproni and Brother, Boston, Massachusetts, produced most, if not all of the sculptures in the theater, including plaster reproductions of works by Michelangelo and Peter Visher, among others. To enhance the feeling that patrons were seated outdoors, Eberson embellished the room with artificial trees, vines and birds, and installed a machine that produced simulated clouds. In combination with sound, which had recently been introduced to the movies, the atmospheric theater offered a multi-sensory experience that has rarely been equaled.
Built in 1928-1930 for Walter P. Chrysler of the Chrysler Corporation, the Chrysler building was “dedicated to world commerce and industry.” A significant example of Art Deco architecture, the Chrysler building rises 1,046 feet and is easily recognized by its highly polished dome and spire.
Upon the building’s completion in 1930, the editor of Architectural Forum wrote:
“It is simply the realization, the fulfillment in metal and masonry, of a one-man dream, a dream of such ambition and such magnitude as to defy the comprehension and the criticism of ordinary men or by ordinary standards.”
Photos: (1) Underwood & Underwood/Corbis (2) Chris Petsos Photography (3) James Maher Photography
The only historic district in New York City to take its name from a building material is the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District in Manhattan, which contains the world’s largest collection of buildings with cast-iron fronts. In the 1840s, James Bogardus developed a method to mass-produce prefabricated cast-iron building pieces, which could easily be assembled on-site. This construction method appealed to New York businessmen in the second half of the 19th century: cast-iron facades were relatively cheap, quickly constructed, and practical to maintain, requiring only a fresh coat of paint. The versatility of cast-iron made it possible to imitate the more expensive stone traditionally used to construct commercial buildings.
Some of the finest mid-19th-century cast-iron streetscapes in America can be seen on Greene Street between Canal and Grant Streets and between Broome and Spring Streets, including a large number of Italianate and French Second Empire buildings from the 1850s and 1860s.
Cast-iron fell out of favor by the 1890s. Taller buildings were made possible by steel skeleton construction, and new processes were developed for manufacturing architectural ornament in terra cotta, which replaced much of the inexpensive decorative function that had made cast iron so popular.
Haughwout Building, 488-492 Broadway
A masterpiece of early cast-iron construction, the Haughwout Building was commissioned by E.V. Haughwout for his fashionable china, silver, and glassware emporium. The iron components were manufactured at Daniel D. Badger’s Architectural Iron Works and were originally painted a color referred to in 1859 as “Turkish drab.” The attempt to create a beautiful building using a limited number of mass-produced parts is evident in the structure’s insistent repetition of round arches and Corinthian columns, motifs adapted from the façade of a Venetian Library. The building was restored in 1995. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Roosevelt Building, 478-482 Broadway
Commissioned by the trustees of Roosevelt Hospital in the early 1870s as an investment, this commercial building is one of a small group of surviving New York City structures by Richard Morris Hunt, one of the nation’s most significant 19th-century architects and cofounder of the American Institute of Architects. The triple-arched cast-iron front repeats on a smaller scale along Crosby Street. (Photo: Wikipedia)
448 Broome Street
Few commercial works by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Clarke Withers survive. Each floor of this lovely commercial building displays different and unusual cast-iron reliefs inspired by Moorish sources, including triple colonnettes, circular rosettes, and intricate friezes. The building dates from the early 1870s. (Photo: Wikipedia)
72 Greene Street
Dry goods merchant Gardner Colby commissioned this cast-iron warehouse in 1873. Designed in the French Second Empire style, it has a prominent mansard roof and central portico that extends the full height of the building. The building was designed by architect I.F. Duckworth. (Photo: Wikipedia)
469 Broome Street
This impressive cast-iron store was built for William Gunther, a leading furrier. Griffith Thomas designed approximately 15 structures within the SoHo-Cast Iron district, and this is one of his finest works, distinguished by a curved corner bay and quoined pilasters. By the start of the 20th century, many of the building’s tenants were silk merchants. (Photo: MCNY)
Faced with granite and cast iron, this 10-story Renaissance Revival structure was built as a department store by Charles “Broadway” Rouss. Architect William J. Dilthey added a matching fourth bay and a penthouse in 1900. The Rouss store closed in 1929. Children’s books publisher Scholastic renovated the building in 1992. (Photo: MCNY)
The Woolworth building was the tallest building in the world on its completion in 1913. Cass Gilbert’s graceful, sixty-story tower became the prototype for the tall romantic skyscraper that permanently transformed the skyline of New York and became the most potent image of twentieth-century urban America. Built as the headquarters of F. W. Woolworth, the building became a symbol not just of Woolworth’s personal success, but also of the new twentieth-century phenomenon of mass commerce.
Images: (1)Library of Congress (2)“The Cathedral of Commerce” 1913
For over 150 years New York City has been a major center for LGBT life. Numerous sites that played a role in LGBT history are designated landmarks or located in historic districts. For Pride Week, we’ve created a slideshow with a decade by decade sampling of some of these sites.
The East Village/Lower East Side Historic District contains sections of one of New York City’s most storied neighborhoods. It is synonymous with the American immigrant experience and has served as a nationally-recognized cultural center for more than a century and a half. The neighborhood contains an incredibly dense layering of historic and cultural significance—from its early history as a fashionable residential neighborhood, to its later identities as the tenement district of Kleindeutschland and the Lower East Side.
The Ridgewood South Historic District in Queens is composed of primarily three-story brick tenements and the St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church Complex. The tenements were constructed between 1911 and 1912 by the G.X. Mathews Company and were designed by architect Louis Allmendinger. Known as “Mathews Model Flats,” these “new law” tenements had larger rooms and more adequate sanitary facilities than their 19th-century predecessors.
German-immigrant Gustave X. Mathews began building in Ridgewood in the first decade of the 20th century. Using wider lots, large air shafts, private bathrooms, and limiting occupancy to two families per floor, Mathews’ “cold-water” flats were a radical improvement to the overcrowded tenements of Williamsburg and the Lower East Side. By creating improved living quarters and controlling costs so that the apartments could be affordable to families of modest income, Mathews found a niche in the real estate market and met with immediate success. He built and sold over 300 tenements in Ridgewood between 1909 and 1912, receiving 25% the tenement house permits issued in Queens in 1911. As testament to their improved design, the “Mathews Model Flats” were exhibited by the New York City Tenement House Department at the Panama-Pacific Fair in San Francisco in 1915.
The Bronx General Post Office Building and its notable interior lobby were planned and constructed between 1934-37. The architectural design was executed by Thomas Harlan Ellett. The space contains a series of 13 mural panels created by noted artists Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson.
In the early 20th century—as the Bronx was becoming one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the country—it became apparent that the borough needed improved postal facilities. Efforts to secure a proper headquarters began as early as 1902, but it was only during the depths of the Great Depression and the advent of New Deal public works programs that the Bronx General Post Office was finally completed. Funding came from the Public Works Administration and the architectural design was overseen by the Federal government’s Office of the Supervising Architect, of which Ellett was a temporary employee.
The Bronx General Post Office and its lobby were designed in the Modern Classical style of architecture preferred by the New Deal-era public works programs. Ellett’s design combines modified classical ornament with a tendency to abstraction and simplification of these motifs. The double-height space features floor-to-ceiling Ionic columns, a striped marble and terrazzo floor, and a coffered ceiling with simplified rosette ornamentation. Materials include gray Missouri marble and white Tennessee marble, as well as complimentary terrazzo.
Integral to the design of the Bronx General Post Office Lobby was a series of murals, titled “Resources of America,” conceived by Shahn and completed with Bryson’s assistance. The artists won the commission through an open competition sponsored by the Section of Painting and Sculpture, a Federal agency closely aligned with the Office of the Supervising Architect. Per the requirements of the competition, Shahn’s designs comprise a unified decorative scheme that integrates with the architectural setting of the lobby. All of the panels relate to the general theme of Labor and depict dynamic, even heroic, views of the American worker. An acclaimed photographer as well as painter and graphic artist, Shahn often used photographs as the basis for his paintings. Several of the panels in the Bronx Post Office were clearly inspired by his photography trips to the American heartland during the 1930s, while others were derived from his extensive collection of newspaper clippings.
For more information about Bronx General Post Office Building or to learn about other Bronx Landmarks visit our website http://on.nyc.gov/1jDv8At.
Image Sources: (1) Benjamin Waldman (2) New York Times (3) LPC