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Features, History, Landscape Architecture, Roosevelt Island, Starchitecture

FDR Four Freedoms Park, roosevelt island, park roosevelt island, louis kahn

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?

What people are saying

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Architecture, Features, History, Manhattan

This photo from 1909 shows the Manhattan Bridge under construction.

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.

See what the landmarks of New York looked like in-construction here

Featured Story

Downtown Brooklyn, Features, History

Brooklyn Paramount Theater

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.

We uncover the storied past of this grand movie palace

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Book Reviews, City Living, DUMBO, Features, History

dumbo 1925 waterfront, historic dumbo, historic dumbo waterfront, dumbo 1900s, dumbo empire stores historic

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.

More about ‘Light of the Diddicoy’ here

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Architecture, Features, History, Manhattan, Midtown East

A model home at the Usonian Exhibition Pavilion in NYC

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.

See the historic Frank Lloyd Wright works here

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Architecture, Features, History, Upper East Side

The Carnegie Mansion, now the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

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?

See our list of mansions here

Featured Story

Architecture, Features, History

guastavino tiles nyc

Photo by John-Paul Palescandolo 

In New York, many of the grand Beaux-Arts masterpieces — Grand Central Terminal, the Queensboro Bridge, the City Hall subway station, Columbia University, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine — have one striking element in common: Guastavino tiles. Spanish architect and builder Rafael Guastavino and his son Rafael Jr. brought with them to New York at the end of the 19th century a Mediterranean design technique from the 14th century for thin-tile structural vaulting. The expertly engineered and architecturally beautiful vaults were lightweight, fireproof, load-bearing, cost-efficient, and able to span large interior areas.

Today there are over 250 Guastavino works in New York City alone, not to mention the 1,000 throughout the U.S. The Museum of the City of New York’s current exhibition, Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile, explores Guastavinos’s spaces in New York and showcases “never-before-seen objects, artifacts, photographs, and documents.” We couldn’t help doing a little Guastavino exploration ourselves, and have put together some of our favorite tiled sites that you can actually visit.

See our picks right this way


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