Photo of the 1931 Beaux Arts Ball courtesy of the Van Alen Institute
The architects who built the Jazz Age really knew how to get down. In January 1931, they turned the city’s annual Beaux Arts Ball into the ultimate Gatsby-approved bash. Instead of the stuffy historicism of years past, the party’s theme was “Fête Moderne — a Fantasie in Flame and Silver.” Advance advertising for the Ball in the New York Times promised an event “modernistic, futuristic, cubistic, altruistic, mystic, architistic and feministic,” featuring the city’s most renowned architects dressed as their buildings, celebrating both themselves and the modern fantasy metropolis they had forged in flame and silver. Art Deco New York: the skyscraper city, glittering and strong, reaching ever higher – through technological advancement and American ingenuity – toward excitement, prosperity, enlightenment, and power.
When it comes to Art Deco architecture in NYC, Anthony W. Robins is your guy. A native New Yorker, 20-year veteran of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and author of books on Grand Central Terminal, the World Trade Center, and the art and architecture of the subway system, Robins is considered the foremost expert on the ornamental, geometric style, having organized the first regularly scheduled series of Art Deco tours through the Art Deco Society of New York in 1981.
Robins has now taken over 30 years of experience in New York’s Art Deco architecture and distilled it into his latest book, “New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age Architecture.” Starting with an introduction on the style and its history in NYC, the book includes 15 walking tour itineraries across the boroughs, each with a handy map designed by legendary cartographer John Tauranac. 6sqft has partnered up with the author to offer a signed copy of the book to one reader.
HERE’S HOW TO ENTER:
Snap a picture (using your best photography skills, of course) of your favorite piece of Art Deco architecture anywhere in the five boroughs. Share it with us on Instagram @6sqft with the hashtag #6sqftArtDeco and the location. On Tuesday, July 11th we’ll pick our favorite photo and give one lucky reader a signed copy of “New York Art Deco.”
A vintage postcard of the Airlines Terminal Building, via drivingfordeco.com
For more than 30 years, the Art Deco-style Airlines Terminal Building served millions of travelers as a spot where flight tickets servicing New York could be purchased and where passengers could board shuttle buses to take them to the various airports. The building, located on the southwest corner of Park Avenue and 42nd Street, sat on the former site of the Hotel Belmont, which was built in 1906 and later demolished in 1930. Construction of the Airlines Terminal began in 1939 to create the chic, futuristic design, which included a steel frame and a crown flanked by two eagles.
Find out more
Architecture firm Hollwich Kushner (HWKN) has just released a design research project that applies contemporary construction techniques and designs to famous NYC Art Deco landmarks. Part of their goal is to redesign landmarks so that aren’t just beautiful, but so they have unique personalities and remain relevant over time. Through their research project, called New(er) York, HWKN selected twelve timeless landmarks that represent New York. Some of these include iconic structures like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, One Wall Street, the Woolworth Building and the Flatiron.
See the renderings
Under the New Yorker Hotel, a former guest convenience has been rendered an Art Deco artifact by the times. While not built to be a secret, a tunnel connecting the Midtown hotel’s lobby to Penn Station was sealed on the station’s side sometime in the 1960s and subsequently forgotten, according to Atlas Obscura.
See what the tunnel looks like today, almost a century later
The final checkout for hotel guests at the iconic Waldorf Astoria is March 1st, after which its new owner, Chinese insurer Anbang Insurance Group, will begin converting the 1,413 hotel rooms into 840 renovated hotel rooms and 321 luxury condos to the tune of $1 billion. Earlier this month, the developer filed these plans with the Department of Buildings, which also call for adding retail space, a restaurant, and a fitness center on the ground floors. They’ll retain the historic ballrooms, exhibition space, dining rooms, and banquet rooms, but will still need approvals from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for any work on these public spaces; the building has long been an exterior landmark, but the LPC recently calendared a request to landmark the Art Deco interiors. Though no designs have been approved or confirmed, CityRealty dug up renderings from architectural visualization firm ArX Solutions that show their vision of space*.
More renderings and details
Chrysler Building elevators via Wally Gobetz on Flickr
Earlier this week, we visited the New York School of Interior Design‘s latest exhibit, Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Landmark Interiors, which, on the 50th anniversary of New York’s landmark legislation, features photography and information about more than 20 public spaces, known and little-known, that have been designated as interior landmarks. Looking through images of restored Broadway theaters, perfectly preserved coffered rotundas and period furniture, we couldn’t help getting stuck on one often-overlooked element–the elevator.
For most of us who live in a high rise or work in a typical office building, the elevator doors are just another blank wall that we stare at, only paying attention when they open and usher us in. But when the city’s great Art Deco buildings were rising, the elevators were an extension of the lavish ornamentation and geometric details of the façade and interior lobby. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Art Deco elevators in landmarked interiors, which means they’re all publicly accessible so you can check them all out first hand.
Go up in style here
Image courtesy of Thomas X. Casey
The NY Yankees, Julia the Gorilla, and the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden all call the Bronx home, but as the borough named for Jonas Bronck (and affectionately called the Boogie Down) commemorates a centennial anniversary in 2014, there is much more to celebrate than Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo, and the New York Botanical Garden.
We’ve hunted down seven cool things about the Bronx that we bet you didn’t know. Read them all ahead, then venture northward to see them up close and personal.
Seven cool things about the Bronx
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