New York has a long history of great architecture. From the very beginnings in the colonial period to today, there are more great buildings to see in New York than anywhere else on the planet. Thankfully, with this guide, you can see them all in one simple south-north trip across Manhattan. Many great buildings are too tall or difficult to see up close, so we’ve chosen an example of each style of New York architecture that can also be appreciated from the ground level, rather than forcing you to gawk straight up at a skyscraper. Check out our New York architecture day trip.
Hotel Chelsea had the Warhol “superstars”, 740 Park Avenue has been considered the most sought after address in the world for 70 years, the San Remo boasts a rotating roster of celebrity residents–a lot of New York City buildings have their claim to fame. But none have as storied a past or talked-about current status as the famed Dakota at 1 West 72nd Street.
Best known as the site where John Lennon was killed when returning home with wife Yoko Ono, as well as its role in Roman Polanski’s acclaimed horror film “Rosemary’s Baby,” the Dakota’s mythical stature goes much deeper than its spectacular, fortress-like façade and proximity to Central Park. Long a desirable address for artsy celebrities, the building still attracts a slew of A-listers, but the strict co-op board is known to reject even the biggest names.
Restoring historic landmarks is never an easy task, but a careful, attention-driven job can help a former gem shine again. That’s the case behind the renewal of this Upper East Side townhouse, also known as the Cartier Mansion. Together, Andre Tchelistcheff Architects and interior designer David Anthony Easton worked to restore the gorgeous Beaux-Arts building to its former glory.
The New York skyline is made up of twelve different decades of buildings, but when you look at them today, they all form a single beautiful picture. Over the last century and a half, that picture has changed dramatically. From the original skyscraper boom to the modern glass towers of today, the New York skyline has grown more and more impressive every year, and these pictures show the process step-by-step, as well as the impending future.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedom’s Park may have opened relatively recently in 2012, but architect Louis Kahn was brewing up the design for the memorial park nearly 40 years earlier. Kahn’s death in 1974 (a somewhat tragic one which left him dead and alone in a Penn Station bathroom after a heart attack) was unfortunately accented by a dwindling reputation — Kahn’s sordid multi-family affairs had come to light upon his passing and his fading architecture practice was loaded with debt. But beyond all the scandal, Kahn also left behind a number of sketchbooks packed with complete sets of unrealized projects. One of these projects was the Four Freedom’s Park.
While plenty of accolades have been given to successful realization of the project so far after Kahn’s death, few have tracked where the architect may have pulled his inspiration for the design. That is until now. As a number of Kahn’s sketches emerge for public viewing, some are asking: Was the the design of Louis Kahn’s Four Freedom’s Park inspired by the Eye of Providence found on the U.S. dollar bill?
As the Freedom Tower is being completed, New Yorkers are losing a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity: The chance to snap pictures of a landmark while it is still being built. It is incredible to imagine getting to see a half-built Empire State Building, or a mess of wires that will soon be the Manhattan Bridge, or an excavated hole in the ground where Rockefeller Center will soon be placed. With old photos, we can see what these buildings looked like before they were finished, and what New York looked like before its landmarks were in place.
We’re thinking of becoming local college basketball fans — not necessarily because we love the sport, but because we’re dying to get inside this Long Island University gymnasium that was once the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. Commissioned in 1928 by Paramount Pictures, with a sister theatre in Times Square, this regal venue was the largest movie theatre in Brooklyn, second largest in the city, and the first theatre designed for talking pictures. Noted theatre architects Rapp and Rapp designed the rococo-style palace with 4,084 burgundy velvet seats, a ceiling painted with clouds, a 60-foot stage curtain decorated with satin-embroidered pheasants, huge chandeliers, and tiered fountains filled with goldfish.
Movie houses struggled during the depression years, and by 1936 the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre had lost $1.5 million since opening. In 1950 Long Island University purchased the building, and twelve years later they renovated the auditorium as their gymnasium keeping the original, ornate details of the space intact. The LIU Blackbirds played their first game in 1963, and in 1975 a second renovation occurred thanks to funding from local businesses.
There’s been a lot of novels set in New York City (guilty myself, two times). When done right, such work can serve as a portal to the past, when New York was a distinctly different place, one often defined by its era and often in direct contrast to the current conditions.
In Eamon Loingsigh’s powerful new novel, Light of the Diddicoy, reference is made in the very first line to the area “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” Of course, any New Yorker worth his/her salted caramel custard from Shake Shack knows DUMBO, the Brooklyn nabe known for its pricey lofts and tony boutiques, its art galleries and swank eateries and a grassy park that sprawls along the water’s edge below the span of East River bridges. Lovely. The characters in Loingsigh’s novel aren’t so privileged, for they lived in DUMBO 100 years ago, long before any clunky acronyms, when the waterfront was a war zone, and the novel’s narrator, Liam Garrity, a displaced and desperate Irish immigrant, all of 14 years, fell in with a brutal gang as a matter of survival.
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of architecture’s most important figures, and you can see his work in five countries and 37 of 50 states. But when it comes to New York City, there is only one major Wright construction to be found: The Guggenheim. There is also a pre-fab house in Staten Island and one in Blauvelt just north of the city, but what other work did he do in the five boroughs? It turns out that Wright designed two other major projects in NYC, but both have been demolished. Here’s a look at these lost works by the great architect.
Everyone knows Manhattan is all about high-rise condos, tall apartment buildings, and any other kind of building in which people live above other people. But it wasn’t always that way. A hundred years ago, there was still room on this small island for the ultra-rich to build mansions all to themselves, single-family homes with the square footage of a castle. Today many of these buildings, all “Millionaire’s Row” mansions in the Upper East Side, belong to museums and schools, but the question remains: What are the biggest buildings in Manhattan today that were built as single-family homes?