The Liberty Tower, formerly the Sinclair Oil Building, 55 Liberty Street at the corner of Nassau Street in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City was built in 1909–10 and designed by Henry Ives Cobb in a Gothic Revival style. The limestone building is covered in white architectural terracotta ornamented with birds and alligators and other fanciful subjects.
In the building before Liberty Tower was the New York Evening Post under editor William Cullen Bryant, and the first headquarters of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, established by Henry Bergh in 1867.
President Theodore Roosevelt’s law office was one of Sinclair Oil building’s first commercial tenants. In 1917, an office was leased as cover for German spies seeking to prevent America’s intervention in World War I (“The Great War”). The plot involved an attempt to draw the United States into a diversionary war with Mexico and Japan. The plot was exposed on March 1, 1917, with news reports of an intercepted telegram (“Zimmermann Telegram”), decoded by British cryptographers, prompted President Woodrow Wilson to declare war against Germany a month later. Shortly afterward, the entire building was leased by the Sinclair Oil Company, responsible for the Teapot Dome scandal of 1922.
In 1979, the structure, renamed Liberty Tower, was converted from commercial use into a residential building by architect Joseph Pell Lombardi. It was designated a New York City landmark in 1982, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 15, 1983. Because the then new principles of “skyscraper” design were not yet fully understood, the building was overbuilt, with its steel foundation anchored into bedrock five stories below street level. This overly sturdy construction helped this tall, slender building withstand the collapse of two World Trade Towers only 220 yards to the west on September 11, 2001, with only minimal damage despite the impact which was measured at the time as a 3.3 magnitude seismic event.
129 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village is one of four rowhouses (Nos. 125-131) built on lots owned by Alonzo Alwyn Alvord, a downtown hat merchant. The area around Washington Square (converted from a potter’s field in 1826-28) was an elite residential enclave. This 2-1/2-story Federal style house was constructed c. 1828-29, has Flemish bond brickwork (now painted), low stoop with wrought ironwork (the newel post is topped with a pineapple), the doorway has Ionic columns, entablature and transom, molded lintels with end blocks, peaked roof, molded cornice, and pedimented double dormers (lots of fancy words to look up). This house, and its neighbors, is among the relatively rare surviving Manhattan buildings of the Federal style.
It was owned by and leased by members of the merchant class until later in the19th century the neighborhood became less fashionable and 129 became a lodging house. In the 1910’s this block of MacDougal Street became a cultural and social center of bohemian Greenwich Village.
129 is a cafe, La Lanterna, and we often stop there after one of Marc’s history tours of Greenwich Village. They showed us the basement, which has an old wine cellar and a secret tunnel.
As part of the free Optic 2017 event held by B&H I went on the evening cruise around the tip of Manhattan. The 4-day event was fabulous—so many lectures and camera goodies to see it was overwhelming. The speakers were tops. If you want to see some of the lectures some were recorded. Thank you all at the B&H Event Space.
The weather was foggy and damp, so all my photographs were a flat gray. I added a few clouds to some of them in Photoshop.
New York harbor at night reminds me of when I returned to America in 1960 from London. I was a young teenager then. The view of the harbor and city lights was beautiful and romantic, but at the same time sad because I was so sad at leaving my home in London.
Rather than show my snaps of the gorgeous Chihuly glass on exhibit at the NY Botanical Gardens I cropped them to squares of colors and patterns. Please do take a look at the links for more information.
Jeff L. Rosenheim, the chief Curator, generously gave us a half hour tour. His talk was very enlightening. The curator said Irving Pewnn printed limited runs, did all his own work and deliberately made the prints not the same. He was a workaholic and was always phtographing, printing or doing related work. Fashion photography was for cash, but that wasn’t his personal art. He trained as an artist and his sense of design shows in all he did. Apparently, his studio, was very raw and he made his clients pose the way he wanted them. For the series in Cusco he took over a local studio and paid the sitters; consequently, he had no shortage of models. He loved Matisse and knew him. His nude series explores shapes like Matisse did. I see Modigliani in them too. Rosenheim said most people didn’t like them. I like the series of flowers near the end of the exhibit. I love how he used positive and negative space and that all parts of the image are considered in the design.
After that we went to see some of his prints on sale at Pace/MacGill “Irving Penn 1950.” Also see the Pace/MacGill press release. I felt that the prints were not as good as the ones at the Met. The curators at the Met have first choice of the best of his prints and they chose well.
Irving Penn (June 16, 1917 – October 7, 2009) was an American photographer known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still lifes Wikipedia: Irving Penn.
Thank you Deborah Gilbert, B&H Event Producer, for making the event possible.
Here’s a couple of pics of Marc and I in front of Penn’s drop cloth at the Met.