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.
View showing the ornate top. Image source: Manhattan Scout
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.
Created for Norm’s Thursday Doors, June 15, 2017
The Ukrainian Institute of America is in “Museum Mile” on the southeast corner of 79th Street and 5th Avenue, New York City is a French Renaissance style turn-of-the-century mansions. It is open to the public.
In 1898 Isaac Fletcher, a banker and railroad investor, commissioned the famous architect C.P.H. Gilbert to build a house using William K. Vanderbilt’s neo-Loire Valley chateau as its model, on the property which was originally the Lenox farm.
Harry F. Sinclair, of Sinclair Oil Company, purchased the Fletcher Mansion in 1920 and sold it in 1930 to Augustus Van Horne Stuyvesant, Jr., a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant. Who lived there with his unmarried sister then alone until 1953.
William Dzus, inventor and owner of the Dzus Fastener Company, founded the Ukrainian Institute of America in 1948—to promote Ukrainian art, culture, music, and literature. In 1955, the mansion was purchased by the Ukrainian Institute of America with the support of Mr. Dzus. In June of 1962 the mortgage was paid off and subsequently the Ukrainian Institute of America attained landmark status.
The 23-story pre-war Beresford at 211 Central Park West (CPW) was designed by the architect Emery Roth and completed in 1929. It takes its name from the Hotel Beresford, which had occupied the site since 1889. Roth designed The El Dorado, The San Remo, and The Ardsley, also on CPW.
The Beresford’s mass is relieved by horizontal belt courses, staggered setbacks required by the 1916 Zoning Resolution, which provide some apartments with terraces, and Georgian style detailing. The Beresford sits on the corner and has three octagonal copper-capped corner towers. The view east overlooks Central Park; and the southern view is of Theodore Roosevelt Park, with the American Museum of Natural History. The building is U-shape, with a central court. Each floor originally had 2 apartments of a scale that was eliminated in NYC by the stock market crash and the Multiple Dwellings Law.
The co-op apartments can go for $3 million to $22 million. One unit was listed for $62 million. The building’s residents have included comedian Jerry Seinfeld, actress Glenn Close, singer Diana Ross, tennis player John McEnroe, and actor Tony Randall, to name a few.
By the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown, New York City, is a Buddhist Temple.
Created for Norm’s Thursday Doors April 13, 2017
The Judson Memorial Church at 239 Thompson Street on the south side of Washington Square Park, New York City was designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White 1892. It is a composite of Byzantine, Lombardo-Romanesque or Renaissance Italianate. The building materials are terracotta and brick. The stained glass by John La Farge are amazing.
In 1890 the preacher Edward Judson initiated construction of Judson Church as a memorial to his father Adoniram Judson, the first American Protestant foreign missionary. It was backed by John D. Rockefeller and other prominent Northern Baptists. Judson Memorial Church’s location was intended to unite the immigrants of the tenements to the south of the square with the wealthy upper classes. However, the established rich were not keen on rubbing shoulders with the immigrant poor and attendance declined.
From the 1950’s on the forward thinking ministers of the church helped foster the arts and racial and gay rights. One event I found interesting was Lenny Bruce’s memorial service on August 12, 1966. It was attended by Allen Garfield, The Fugs, Paul Krassner, C Sharp, Alan Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, to name a few. Lenny Bruce was famous for his comedy which integrated satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity. He was convicted in 1964 of obscenity and posthumously pardoned.
- Judson Memorial Church – Wikipedia
- Judson Memorial Church – NYC Architecture (good pictures of interior)
- Judson Memorial Church historical overview
- Judson Memorial Church history
- Judson Memorial stained glass pictures
Created for Norm’s Thursday Doors March 30, 2017
Greenwich Village has alleys that remind me of the many old alleys in London. I love exploring these hidden pathways when I find them. They are found in the older parts of many cities. Some were used as passage ways to stables in the rear of houses; and some for rear access to service doors. The word alley is from Middle English from Old French allee meaning to walking passage.
Charles Lane, with its Belgian Block paving, is named for Charles Christopher Amos, who owned the estate where Charles Street and Lane are 10th Street used to be called Amos Street). Charles Lane.
The lane may mark the northern boundary of Newgate State Prison, which stood from 1797 until 1828 when it moved upstate and became Sing Sing.
The author Thomas Pynchon, who wrote “Gravity’s Rainbow”, lived on Charles Lane.
On its West Street end, Charles Lane currently runs between the twin towers of Richard Meier’s glass-faced Perry Street condominiums.
Read about other interesting Greenwich Village alleys at forgotten New York.
Created for Norm’s Thursday Doors March 16, 2017