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,…

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…

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…

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,…

Wall Street – a tiny street with a big history

The name Wall Street stands for high finance and is often used interchangeably with the Financial District. However, before it came to symbolize the American financial might, it was a location of an actual wall making its name – Wall Street – not a figure of speech but a reflection of reality. In 1625, the…

Many lives of Castle Clinton

A chameleon of function, Castle Clinton had many reincarnations, and it’s not finished changing yet. Built as a fortification, the masonry circular structure has functioned as an exhibition hall, theater, immigration station, public aquarium, and national monument. 1811-1822 Military Fort Along with other forts on Bedloe (Liberty) Island, Ellis Island, and Governor’s Island built to…

The Story of Ellis Island

For a nation of immigrants, few locations have greater significance than Ellis Island. But the story of the Island begins way before it became the home of America’s first federal immigration facility. Back in the 17th century, European colonists referred to the island as Little Oyster Island–so named for its abundance of oyster beds. The…

Ellis Island – Immigrant Inspection Process

Ellis Island was the first federal immigration station as well as the largest formal gateway into America for the massive influx of European and Mediterranean immigrants that came throughout first half of the 20th century. In fact, over 40 percent of all living Americans can trace their roots to some ancestor who came this way….

The Four Continents – a Close up

The Four Continents—four statues adorning the facade of the former United States Custom House—are allegorical representations of the four continents: Asia, America, Europe, and Africa. Created by Daniel Chester French, they represent the vision of Custom House architect Cass Gilbert, who chose the theme to represent the building’s main function—international commerce. Flanking the main entrance are…

St. Paul’s—a Chapel Older than the United States

Built in 1766, St. Paul’s is New York City’s oldest public building in continuous use as well as Manhattan’s oldest surviving church building. After Manhattan fell to the British in 1776, a raging fire set the city ablaze. Nobody knows for certain whether the fire was an accident or an act of arson by retreating…

Integrity Presiding over the New York Stock Exchange

The group within the pediment over the New York Stock Exchange is entitled “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man,” which makes it fair to assume that the central female figure in the sculpture is Integrity herself. She is tasked with “Protecting the Works of Man”—with Industry on one side and Agriculture on the other. The…