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…

Times Square — the Crossroads of the World in a shape of a bowtie

With the typical modesty, the New Yorkers call Times Square “The Crossroads of the World. ” One can argue that it’s not central to the whole world; however, it is pretty central to the island of Manhattan. Name: In the olden 19th century days, when horses powered the city transportation, the area was the hub…

Brooklyn Bridge for sale — a true story

When Sinatra sang: “I’ve been tryin’ to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge,” he meant it metaphorically. The Bridge, however, had been a commodity on the swindlers marked ever since it opened in 1883. Other sale items included the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant’s Tomb, and the Statue of Liberty, but nothing sold as well as…

The Church Missions House — from charity to photography

Even in the diverse landscape of Manhattan’s architecture, the intricate limestone building facing Park Ave at 22nd street is striking. It’s striking because it’s unusual, it’s unusual because of its distinctive architectural style. If it looks like it was inspired by the medieval guildhalls of Amsterdam and Haarlem, it’s because it was! Influenced by the 17th-century…

Statue of Liberty – what was the Lady doing in the park?

The journey of Lady Liberty from its native France to the teeming shores of Manhattan was long and arduous, and her first appearance here was limited to just one body part: her torch-holding arm. The Statue’s creator, Auguste Bartholdi, started working on the colossus in 1876 in Paris. The arm holding the touch was complete…

NYSE Building—a Roman temple with glass walls

Facing Broad Street at the corner with Wall Street stands a stronghold of American finance — the mighty Stock Exchange. The building looks like a Roman temple adorned with imposing columns and crowned with classical portico. The resemblance is not accidental: financial structures were meant to project stability, security, and strength. By the beginning of…

New York Life — a skyscraper with a golden crown

The 40-story tower crowned by the 6-story shining golden roof in the shape of an octagonal pyramid on the northeast corner of Madison Park belongs to New York Life Insurance Company. The crown was originally covered by cooper-and-gold leaf, which eventually eroded and was replaced with gold-colored tile. The effect is fantastic — the golden…

Of sycamore, coffee, and high finance — the Stock Exchange story

New York, situated in a large, natural harbor, was always a port city. Since the 17th century, the trade routes between Europe and the American continent went through the city’s bustling port. The goods such as wheat, tobacco, coffee, sugar, molasses, cotton, and rum traveled in one direction while fine furniture, tea, cloth, and, sadly,…