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.
There are many lovely old buildings along Riverside Drive in Manhattan. Riverside Drive was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as part of his concept for Riverside Park from 72nd to 125th Streets. This set is from 76-78th Street.
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.
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.
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 Bowery Savings Bank at 130 Bowery between Broome and Grand Streets was designed by Stanford White, from the firm of McKim, Mead, and White, and built in 1893–95. The “L”-shaped building continues through to Elizabeth Street, and has a designed facade at 228 Grand Street.
White’s architectural portfolio includes: The Washington Square Arch, a Fifth Avenue mansion formerly owned by the Rockefeller family, The New York Herald building, The Tiffany building, The Boston Public Library, several branches of The New York Public Library, and The Bowery Savings Bank building which is now a 40,000 square foot space event space and restaurant called Capitale (opened and landmarked in 1980).
In 1906, at one of White’s most recognized buildings, his life was ended. While attending the opening of Madison Square Garden’s roof show, White was shot and killed by the jealous husband of his mistress.
White’s choice of a Roman classical style for the building set a trend for bank buildings. Greek revival temples were built to inspire confidence after the United States economy collapsed in the Panic of 1893. Many people blamed banks for the depression that followed. So, banks built in that era (until the end of the Great Depression) were meant to suggest strength and stability.
The exterior has Corinthian columns and sculpted pediments by Frederic MacMonnies. The interior is reminiscent of a Roman temple with extensive use of marble, mosaic floors, faux marble scagliola columns, coffered ceilings and stairs and cast iron skylights with a glowing amber Venetian glass ceiling set into the 65-foot-high ceiling.
When I went to Sony Square last weekend for a photo shoot we met at the Metropolitan Life North Building, known as Eleven Madison. It is a lovely 30-story art deco skyscraper overlooking Madison Square Park in Manhattan, New York City. The building is connected by an elevated walkway to the Met Life Tower just south of it.
The Decker Building—periodically referred to as the Union Building—is located at 33 Union Square West in Manhattan, New York City. Built in 1892 for the Decker Brothers piano company according to designs by the radical anarchist architect John H. Edelmann, it replaced the earlier Decker Building on the same lot, designed by Leopold Eidlitz and built in 1869.
Andy Warhol had his Factory on the sixth floor of this building from 1968 through 1973. It is also where Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and art critic and curator Mario Amaya in 1968 (Souce: Wikipedia).