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Interesting building in Brooklyn (III)

31 May

Soaring more than 500 ft. above Hanson Pl., the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank with its striking silhouette is the most prominent feature of the Brooklyn skyline. Situated at the intersection of two main thoroughfares –Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues–, it was the tallest building on Long Island for many years.

The setback and the fine ornamental details and rich carving of the lower two stories are the Byzantine building’s most striking features. The crowning gilded copper dome was intended to recall the dome of the bank’s first building on Broadway (in Brooklyn). Beneath the dome is the famous illuminated four–faced dial clock, one of the largest in the world.

The interior, a simple and elegant Romanesque and Revival space, imagines baking as a quasi–religious act. The great banking room –112 by 73 ft., 63 ft. high– is a basilica–like three–bay space set on a nave–and–aisles plan. The walls and floors of the banking room are finished in polished exotic marbles, and it is highlighted with golden mosaic vaults and enameled steel.

Erected in 1929, the bank remained in continuous use until 2005, when the upper floors were converted into luxury condominiums.

Interesting building in Manhattan (XI)

30 Apr

The northernmost of the four twin-towered apartment houses that give Central Park West its distinctive skyline, the Eldorado is one of the finest and most dramatically massed Art Deco residential buildings in the city. The form of the building, with its massive base and twin towers set at the Central Park West corners, closely resembles the massing of the nearby San Remo, which was also completed in 1930.

The Eldorado towers rise free of the seven stories base for twelve stories. Each is six bays wide on CPW and faced with tan brick. Futuristic, rocket–like pinnacles crown each tower and an angular frieze runs above the third floor. There are stylized brick spandrel panels below many of the windows, and angular balconies with zigzag panels.

Construction of the Eldorado coincided with the stock market crash of 1929, which led to the collapse of the real estate market. Despite financial and labor problems, the building was completed in 1930, but the owners experienced rental problems and finally defaulted on loan payments. The Eldorado has attracted many residents of note, particularly people associated with the arts, such as Milton Avery, Carrie Fisher, Groucho Marx and Marilyn Monroe.

Interesting building in Manhattan (X)

27 Jan


Located on W 44th St. between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, The Algonquin Hotel is a very fine piece of architecture from the beginning of the twentieth century.

The twelve-storey building is five bays wide, with a lightly rusticated two-storey limestone base. Above it are 8 stories of brick with terra cotta trim below a projecting cornice. Two stories at the top work together to function as an attic. The ten top stories have three sash windows in the center flanked by a pair of projecting bays on each side, except for the twelfth storey where the bays are replaced with simple sash windows.

But it’s the building’s social history that distinguished it from its contemporaries. Since its opening in 1902, the Algonquin has been associated with New York’s literary and theatrical worlds. The hotel was host to such notables as Sinclair Lewis, Douglas Fairbanks, Orson Welles, and dozens of other artists. After WW I, as home to the Round Table (a daily luncheon gathering of some of the city’s brightest wits) its fame became national.


In 2008, $4,5 million interior renovation of the hotel was completed, including all of the guest rooms, the lobby, Blue Bar, and Round Table Room.

1903 Algonquin prices
– sitting room, library, dining room, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, private hall: $10/day
– bedroom and bath: $2/day

Interesting building in Brooklyn (II)

3 Oct

B B Hall

The oldest of Brooklyn’s public buildings, the Brooklyn Borough Hall was designed by architect Gamaliel King and built between 1846 and 1851. Until Brooklyn’s consolidation into greater New York (in 1898), it served as the city hall and housed governmental and judicial offices.

Architecturally, it is one of the most splendid of the many Greek Revival buildings that sprang up in Brooklyn during its boom years. Rectangular in plan, it has two stories cadenced above and below by a high basement and a low attic. At the northern end, an imposing Greek portico, consisting of six fluted Ionic columns rising above a flight of steps, commands a view out over Cadman Plaza.

The rear and side façades echo this front porticoin low relief. The slightly projecting central bay of the sides is accentuated by pilasters between the windows, which extend the full height of the façade above the basement level. This arrangement is repeated on the two end wings of the rear façade.

The present cupola, constructed of cast-iron, was designed in 1898 by Stoughton & Stoughton. It replaces the original wooden structure which was destroyed by fire in 1895.

Interesting building in Bronx (III)

17 Jul

Mt. Hope Court is located on Grand Concourse, at the crossings with E. Tremont Ave. It was erected in 1914 on a sharply acute-angled site. The Bronx’s own Flatiron Building was for many years the borough’s tallest building, at ten stories. Predictions that residential elevators would make the Bronx a borough full of ten-story structures didn’t realize until the advent of redbrick projects, beginning with Parkchester.

Interesting building in Bronx (II)

17 Mar

The Kingsbridge Armory, with its massive and crenellated parapets, gives the appearance of a medieval Romanesque fortress. Officially the home of the 258th Field Artillery (8th Regiment), it is reputedly the largest armory in the world, covering an entire city block. Designed by the firm of Pilcher & Tachau, which gained acclaim for their competition design of 1901 for the Squadron C Armory in Brooklyn, the Kingsbridge Armory was built on the site of the proposed eastern basin of the Jerome Park Reservoir.

800px Kingsbridge Armory

Excavation had begun for the eastern basin in the early 1900s, but the state legislature authorized the site for a National Guard Armory in 1911. A number of military relics were exposed during the excavation, reflecting the site’s proximity to the sites of Fort Independence and Fort Number Five of the American Revolution.

800px Kingsbridge_Road_station_with_armory

The red-brick walls are timed with stone and punctuated at regular intervals by slit window openings. Two semi-engaged, round towers crowned by conical roofs flank the main entrance. A stone stairway leads up to the round-arched doorway, where massive iron gates protect paneled doors. A metal and glass roof spans the enormous drill hall.


26 Jan

Located it the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, the Unisphere is a giant stainless-steel globe. It was both the physical center and visual logo of the 1964–65 World’s Fair. It embodied the fair’s theme, “Peace through understanding in a shrinking globe and in an expanding universe.” The Unisphere was designed by Gilmore D. Clarke, the noted landscape architect who also designed the grounds of the 1939–40 World’s Fair, which took place on the same site. His 1964 plan set pavilions, sculptures, and fountains on axes radiating from the Unisphere in a geometric, Beaux-Arts-inspired layout.

Towering over a circular reflecting pool punctuated with fountains, the Unisphere celebrates the dawn of the space age. The structural steel cage is 140 feet high and 120 feet wide, and its more than 500 components weigh over 700,000 pounds. Winding steel members represent lines of latitude and longitude, curved shapes represent the continents, and suspended rings mark the first man-made satellite orbits. The world’s capital cities are marked by lenses, which were backlit during the World’s Fair.

The fair was a financial failure, ending more than $11 million in debt, and its remaining assets were spent on demolishing the exhibitions and restoring Corona Park. The Unisphere remained, but there was little money to maintain it. By the 1970s, the fountains had been shut down, the pool drained, and the site covered in graffiti. Beginning in 1989, the Department of Parks and Recreation cleaned and restored Corona Park; the Unisphere was restored in 1993–94 with funds from the Queens Borough President’s Office.

Interesting building in Brooklyn (I)

26 Dec

Located in Prospect Park, the Lefferts Homestead was built between 1777 and 1783. It was moved down Flatbush Avenue to Prospect Park in 1918. This is a typical Dutch Colonial farmhouse with a low-pitched roof, arched dormer windows, and a colonnaded porch.


Interesting building in Manhattan (IX)

18 Oct

Singer Building

The fabulous Singer Building, 186m high and easily the tallest building in the world when completed in 1908, was designed by Ernest Flagg as the headquarters of the Singer Manufacturing Company. The company was founded in 1851 by Isaac Singer, whose wife was the model for the Statue of Liberty. The actual offices were accommodated in the lower block of 12 storeys while the stunning red-brick and bluestone beaux-arts tower, with its distinctive bulbous top, recognisable from miles away, served largely as an enormous advertisement for Singer Sewing Machines. On moving its headquarters to the Rockefeller Center in 1961, Singer sold the tower to a developer who was hoping to tempt the NYSE to relocate there, but due to the shape of the building there was too little office space and so it was sold to U.S. Steel, who dismantled the whole structure and replaced it with the 226m high skyscraper we see there today, One Liberty Plaza. When the Singer Building was taken down in 1967, it became the tallest building ever to be legitimately demolished.

One Liberty Plaza

Intersting building in the Bronx (I)

18 Sep

973px P1020279

The Poe Cottage is one of the few extant 19th century wood-frame residences in the Bronx. Built for John Wheeler, the simple clapboard farmhouse with attic and porch stands 1.5 stories tall. The siding and shutters are original; the doors and windows, while period originals, were added in 1913. It was erected in 1812 and stood initially on Kingsbridge Road. The cottage was moved in 1895 to allow for the widening of the road and again in 1913 to occupy a 2.5 acre plot designated Poe Park by the City of New York. Poe rented the small farmhouse from 1846 to 1849 in the hope of providing his dying wife, Virginia, with therapeutic country air. The treatment failed, and Virginia died in the cottage’s first floor bedroom on January 30, 1847. Poe died a couple of years later on October 7, 1849, while in Baltimore. It is generally believed that Poe wrote Annabel Lee, a memorial to his young wife, and his last great work, Eureka, while he lived there.