Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and 114th Street in 1895
Today, it’s hard to imagine Morningside Heights without the flurry of students hurrying to class at Columbia University. It may be even harder to imagine it without some of its signature architecture: the gothic Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest cathedral in the world, Riverside Church, with its former bowling alley, or Grant’s Tomb along the Hudson River. But Morningside Heights got an exciting start in the history of New York City (and America, as it turns out)!
The incredible story of Morningside Heights, from past to present, this way
It’s a common saying that money can’t buy good taste, but Peter Brant proves that old adage doesn’t apply to billionaires. According to city records, the American industrialist and businessman just closed on a former Con-Ed substation located at 421 East 6th Street for $27 million—$2 million above asking.
Constructed in 1920 to serve the city’s power needs, the building was altered in the 60s and again in the 80s to accommodate a live-work space for a famed sculptor Walter de Maria. Even with more than a century of history behind it, today the structure still keeps many of its original relics and the overall gritty aesthetic of its industrial past. As a lover of art himself, we’re curious to know how Brant will go about redesigning the space—if he does. Brant, who also happens to be married to supermodel Stephanie Seymour, is the publisher of both Interview and Art in America magazines and has been previously been called a “Donald Trump with taste” by the New York Times.
learn more about the building here
In the 1970s, after obtaining landmark status in 1969, three 19th century houses were actually towed by truck from a no-longer-existing stretch of Washington Street to avoid demolition in the Washington Market Urban Renewal area (a 38-acre site planned by the city’s Housing and Development Administration during the 1960s and 1970s, 10 blocks north of what would become the World Trade Center). Their final destination? Next to three already existing townhouses on Harrison Street, a quiet site that was once the well-known farm of alleged skirt lifter, and one of NYC’s first settlers, Annetje Jans. In 1976, New York City put them up for sale (from $35,000 to $75,000) following a restoration by Oppenheimer, Brady & Vogelstein the year before. And more recently, nearly four decades after the sale, CORE brokers Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon exclusively listed 37 Harrison Street with surprising results.
Fast forward to present day to find out what happened to The Wilson Hunt House
Take a step back in time at 77 Water Street, a 26-story office tower designed by Emery Roth & Sons and built by the William Kaufman Organization. The Financial District building features a WWI fighter plane on its roof and a turn-of-the-century penny candy store in its lobby. Thinking that this tower looks too modern for these curiosities? You’re right; it was erected in 1970.
The William Kaufman Organization wanted to humanize the building and make workers forget they were in an office tower, and to accomplish this they had historic replicas of the plane and candy shop installed. They also added a variety of public art projects throughout the plaza and lobby.
More fun facts about 77 Water Street right this way
Ever wish you could step back in time and spend a day in old New York? Drink some bathtub gin at a speakeasy or ride the original, elevated train? Well, now you can–at least through pictures. The website WhatWasThere ties historical photos to Google Maps, allowing users to tour familiar streets and neighborhoods. People from all over the world can upload their old photos and tag them with the location and year taken. Pretty simple, huh? The site hopes that if “enough people upload enough photographs in enough places” it will weave together a photographic history of the world.
We take a look at some of our favorite New York locations
Banking made this town, and the bank buildings of the 19th and early 20th centuries continue to house some of New York’s most classic architecture and design. Greek, Roman, and even Byzantine Revival architectures were the style of choice for bank buildings, and those great stone pillars are still worth visiting today. Ahead are some of the most beautiful former bank buildings in New York City.
See these beautiful bank buildings here
For anyone in the world who’s ridden the New York City subway, they’ve undoubtedly taken a curious gander at the system map, full of its rainbow-colored, crisscrossing lines. But what many riders may not know is that in 1972, a man named Massimo Vignelli was commissioned by the city to create a very different version of this map, immediately sparking controversy for its geometric simplicity and geographical inaccuracy. In 1979, Vignelli’s map was replaced with a more organic, curving version like we see underground today.
In 2008, the MTA commissioned Vignelli’s firm to update their map, and a new version was put online to serve as the Weekender, highlighting weekend service changes. But now, underground map enthusiast Max Roberts has gone one step further, and claims he’s come up with a perfect compromise between the Vignelli work and the MTA’s signature map.
See what Mr. Roberts has come up with
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.
Get your itinerary here
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.
We’ve got the scoop on the legendary Dakota here
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.
More pictures of the grand townhouse straight ahead