Thursday, September 26, 2019

Take an Architectural Tour with Me

Did you know that you can trace the history of Western Architecture in the buildings in New York City?  You can, and I’ll show you.  This is a combination of some of my favorite things; New York City. long walks, and houses-really, buildings of any kind.  

My reference here is Paul Goldberger's
The City Observed; A Guide to the Architecture of Manhattan
This has been my Bible as I draw my favorite places in my favorite city and all quotes come from him unless otherwise noted.

So put on your walking shoes, grab your metro card and let’s go. I promise you'll make your ten thousand steps.

Let's start with the Egyptians.  If you want to see a pyramid you can go to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn but this is a Manhattan tour.


 Borough of Manhattan Community College-originally Pythian Temple.
135 West 70th Street,
Thomas W. Lamb, 1927
This building is full of Egyptian references and embellishments, including a set of Kings on the roof, shown here.  I asked nicely of the doorman across the street and he allowed me to go up on his roof for a good view.  


the Village Community Church
145 West 13th Street, 
Samuel Thomson, 1846 
A doric Temple set into a row of brownstones.
“A pleasant benign surprise"    


The American Museum of Natural History
77th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould 1877
An immense sprawling set of fortresses


The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York
Fifth Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets
Joseph Wells, 1846
Based on Saint Magdalen College in Oxford. 
This complex covers a wide swath of history all by itself.  The church house on the left, or south side of the sanctuary, is the only gothic revival building by the firm of McKim, Meade and White, 1894. The church house on the right, or north side, which houses the church offices and two schools, was designed by Edgar Tafel, a  student of Frank Lloyd Wright. It won awards for the way it blends the gothic style with mid-century modern.


Engine Company 31
Napolean le Brun 1895
“Great scale in detailing, lovely scale-and fine massing…a gem by any standard. That was a time when first-class architecture for civic purposes was considered as much of a necessity as fire protection itself.”


Jefferson Market Courthouse-now Library 
Sixth Avenue at Tenth Street
Frederick Clarke Withers and Calvert Vaux1876

“The epitome of what a local landmark should be … it laughs and jokes with you as you walk up Sixth Avenue.” 
 I’m sorry I had to truncate the tower to fit it into this format.


The Public Baths
East 23rd Street at Asser Levy Place
Arnold W. Brunner and William Martin Aiken 1906                                             
Mr. Goldberger calls this 'a lovely pretentious little pile." I think it's adorable.

The New York Public Library 
Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets
Carrere and Hastings 1911

"Both awe-inspiring and gracious, dignified and cheerful."


Four Skyscrapers-each in its time the tallest building in the world.

From left to right;

The Flatiron Building
175 Fifth Avenue at Broadway and 23rd Street 
D.H. Burnham & Co., 1901

The Woolworth Building 
233 Broadway Between Barclay Street and Park Place
Cass Gilbert, 1913

“the Mozart of Skyscrapers; a lyrical tower that weds Gothic ornamentation with exquisite massing.

The Chrysler Building
405 Lexington Avenue 
William Van Alen 1930

"It expresses the romantic longings of an era...romantic and irrational and yet not quite so foolish as to be laughable."

The Empire State Building
350 fifth Avenue at 34th Street
Shreve, Lamb and Harmon 1931

"Famous for being tall but good enough to be famous for being good. Graceful setbacks in perfect balance to sheer rise."

That's my thoroughly unscholarly review of New York City's wonderful variety of architectural delights.   Manhattan provides a surprise around every corner. I've left out plenty of treasures as I tried to stick to a timeline but they're there for the looking.  To name a few:

The Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street
Frank Lloyd Wright

 Old Police Headquarters
240 Center Street between Grand and Broom Streets
Hoppin and Koen, 1909

The Seagram Building
375 Park Avenue at 42nd Street
Mies Van der Rohe, Phillip Johnson
    The most elegant Christmas decorations in the city

The Art Students League
215 West 57th Street
Henry J. Hardenburgh, 1892  

Central Park
Frederick aw Olmstead, Calvert Vaux

the Brooklyn Bridge

What's your favorite?                                                                                                                                                                              

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