Second Empire Style in New York

The Second Empire style takes its name from the reign of Napoleon III (1852-1870) – a period known as the Second Empire. During this time, Paris was transformed into a city of grand boulevards and monumental buildings. The Second Empire style is eclectic, drawing from Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. Émile Zola, in one of his novels, described a…

The Pierre Hotel Robbery

A dubious accolade, but here it is: the largest, most successful hotel robbery in history took place in New York City in the venerable Pierre Hotel and was listed as such in the Guinness Book of World Records. The robbers have been burglarizing one New York City hotel after another without ever being caught, but the…

Chateauesque and German/French Renaissance Revival in New York

Chateauesque is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a style based on sixteenth-century French chateaus in the Loire Valley of France. The elaborate revival style became popular between the 1880s and 1900s and was favored by the affluent. The Chateauesque architecture style is rather easy to identify. Its main characteristics are: Chateau-like appearance Round tower with…

Formal Dinner… on Horseback

How would you celebrate the opening of your stables? A dinner, perhaps? Here is how Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings, an American industrialist tycoon, philanthropist, and a noted horseman and horse breeder did it. On March 28, 1903, he gave a lavish 14-course dinner for a small select group of people, namely thirty-five members of the…

Italian Renaissance Revival Architecture in New York

Italian Renaissance Revival spans the period from the 1890s to the 1930s, but its popularity peaked in 1900 – 1920. The original Italian Renaissance was itself a revival style that looked to emulate the Classical period. In its turn, 14th – 16th-century Florentine and Roman urban palazzi inspired its rebirth during the 20th century in America…

The Dakota and Singer sewing machine

The Dakota – the first luxury apartment building in New York City – was not just a building; it was a rule-breaking revolutionary concept. In the 1880s, the Gilded Age wealthy resided in palatial private residences, while apartment living was associated with poverty. The Dakota changed these rules forever. They called The Dakota Clark’s folly….

Beaux-Arts Architecture in New York

Beaux-Arts architecture takes its name from the legendary art school — the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Beaux-Arts, the academic architectural style taught there, was based on the aesthetic principles of neoclassicism. The style combines Roman and Greek classical architectural principles with Renaissance and Baroque stylings. Beaux-Arts buildings are majestic, ornate, and theatrical. With its…

The Oculus — innovation, tradition, and a tremendous expense

The Oculus, the centerpiece of The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, well known for his whimsical creations and lack of practicality.  A very unusual structure looks like a bird that spreads its wings. In fact, it was inspired by a model the architect made 15 years prior to the project,…

What’s the style of The Pierre?

The Pierre was built in 1930 by the architectural firm of Schulze and Weaver, well known for their hotel design. Tall and slender, with characteristic setbacks, its silhouette looks very much like the Art Deco. However, on closer examination, this is where its similarity with Art Deco ends. Its base with columns, window arches, and…

The Pierre – pick a story

Elegant and understated, The Pierre hotel bears the name of its original owner, Charles Pierre Casalasco. His story deviates from the expected New York rug-to-riches story into an “haute cuisine”-to-riches one. Except, the story has more than one version. The first one is prosaic. In this version, Charles Pierre Casalesco worked as a busboy in…

Remembering the Towers

As we collectively mourn so many beautiful buildings we had lost in New York, hardly any other causes as much emotion as the Twin Towers. They perished tragically in the attacks of Sept 11, collapsing after being pierced by airplanes that turned into horrific fireballs as they hit the buildings. Twin Towers came to represent…

One World Trade Center — does it tell a story?

After the city recovered from the most traumatic experience in its history — the attacks of September 11th, it became imperative that a new World Trade Center Complex would rise in place of the one destroyed by terrorists. It would revitalize the devastated neighborhood and create a memorial dedicated to the memory of the fallen…