Monday, April 13th, 2015 - A pleasant walk from my office in midtown during lunch on a beautiful sunny day got me thinking—despite the profusion of mighty glass-sheened skyscrapers all around—the older stately neo-classial buildings really are the ones worthy of mention. Massive edifices of light-colored granite and marble featuring arched doors and windows, and ornate sculptural decoration shine like beacons in the midday sun and portray a monumental elegance that none of the high rises could ever match.
I travel through Grand Central every day and although I appreciate it—when you stop and snap a few photos—you reallly get a sense of the care and thought that went into creating these masterpieces.
Built in 1913 for the New York Central Railroad in the heyday of American long-distance passenger rail travel, the Ternminal covers 48 acres and has 44 platforms, more than any other railroad station in the world. In 1947, more than 65 million people—the equivalent of 40% of the U.S. population—traveled through the station.
There has been a ton of photo shoots and essays on this icon. As many of you may know, it was nearly lost to the wrecking ball (like Penn Station was) if it weren’t for the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and Jackie Onassis. There is a lovely multimedia kiosk that pays tribute to her intervention located inside Vanderbilt Hall.
The Whispering Hall, the zodiac mural on the ceiling of the Main Concourse, the Biltmore Room, the “world’s most famous clock”, the list of things to see and awe are quite extensive. And of course, the place will never loose its elgant charm...
New York City Library - Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
Known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, this Beaux-Arts landmark building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, was the largest marble structure ever attempted in the United States. Before construction could begin, however, some 500 workers had to spend two years dismantling the reservoir and preparing the site. The cornerstone was finally laid in place on November 10, 1902.
Work progressed slowly but steadily. During the summer of 1905, the huge columns were put into place and work on the roof was begun. By the end of 1906, the roof was finished and the designers commenced five years of interior work. In 1910, 75 miles of shelves were installed to house the immense collections.
More than one million books were set in place for the official dedication of the Library on May 23, 1911. The ceremony was presided over by U.S. President William Howard Taft and was attended by Governor John Alden Dix and Mayor William J. Gaynor.
The following morning, New York's very public, Public Library officially opened its doors. The response was overwhelming: between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors streamed through the building the first day.
42nd Croton Reservoir was located on the spot where the Library was built
Helmsley Building - 230 Park Ave NYC
This magnificent building was built in 1929 in the Beaux-Arts style as the New York Central Railroads headquarters. It was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the architects of Grand Central Terminal. Before the erection of the Pan Am Building – now the MetLife Building – this building stood out over the city's second most prestigious avenue as the tallest structure in the great "Terminal City" complex around Grand Central.
Historical Tidbit: Central » General
The building's name, "New York Central Building" was chiseled above its Park Avenue front entrance, but when the railroad gave up the building its new owners chipped away discretely to change the name above the entrance to the "New York General Building".
The opulent interior—lavishly redone when purchased by Helmsley—nevertheless reflects the splendor and grace of the former railroad headquarters.