Translation from English

Saturday, April 30, 2011

St. Peter's Lutheran Church--"The Jazz Church"

Not far from the ritzy St. Bartholomew's on Park Avenue is St. Peter's on Lexington and 53rd Street.

It is built next to a busy subway station where two lines connect ( lower level shown here and also a nearby entrance that shows the lines there).

St. Peter's has always been known for being socially very progressive and for its famous Jazz programs. In fact, this church seems to be wild about can check out its website and learn more about it.

St. Barthomolew Church

This was always traditionally THE Episcopalian high society church in Manhattan, at least in Midtown ( I remember now the Rockefellers built the Riverside Church on the Upper West Side later)...

Remember this church primarily for its old reputation for snootiness and also its attempt to sell its air rights for a skyscraper ( which I believe was never approved).

To quote Wikipedia again:

The current church was erected in 1916–17. The original freely handled and simplified Byzantine design by Bertram Goodhue was called "a jewel in a monumental setting" by Christine Smith in 1988. [6] Goodhue modified his design in response to the requirement that the old church portal, beloved by the parishioners, be preserved, with its bronze doors, from the Madison Avenue building and re-erected on the new site.

The foundation stone of Goodhue's original design, a vast, unified barrel-vaulted[7] space, without side aisles or chapels and with severely reduced transepts, was laid 1 May 1917[8] and the construction was sufficiently far along for the church to be consecrated in 1918; its design was altered during construction, after Goodhue's sudden, unexpected death in 1924, by his office associates, in partnership as Mayers, Murray and Philips; they were engaged in erecting the community house, continuing with the same materials, subtly variegated salmon and cream-colored bricks and creamy Indiana limestone; they designed the terrace that still provides the equivalent of a small square, surrounded by the cliff-like facades of Midtown commercial structures (illustration, upper right); in summer, supplied with umbrellas and tables, it becomes the outside dining area for the restaurant, Inside Park. They also inserted the "much discussed"[9] dome, tile-patterned on the exterior and with a polychrome Hispano-Moresque interior dome, which substituted for the spire that had been planned but never built.[10] Completed in 1930, the church contains stained-glass windows and mosaics by Hildreth Meiere, and a marble baptismal font by the Danish follower of Canova, Bertel Thorvaldsen. St. Bartholomew's, completed by 1930 at a cost of $5,400,000,[11] is one of the city's landmarks. For long one of New York's wealthiest parishes, St. Bart's is known for a wide range of programs. It draws parishioners from all areas of New York City and surroundings.

Sculptural Ambivalence

Wow, talk about having mixed feelings about a piece of sculpture.

In some ways I kind of like the geometric simplicity and sort of modesty of this one, and another part of my brain says " that is exactly the kind of modern art that either turns people off or makes them say " ANYONE could design that."

In fact, I am sure there are a lot design students who could knock out something like this as a project...

Seagram Building

This is another one of those Midtown landmarks...

To quote Wikipedia again:

The Seagram Building is a skyscraper, located at 375 Park Avenue, between 52nd Street and 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, in collaboration with Philip Johnson. Severud Associates were the structural engineering consultants. The building stands 516 feet tall with 38 stories, and was completed in 1958. It stands as one of the finest examples[citation needed] of the functionalist aesthetic and a masterpiece of corporate modernism. It was designed as the headquarters for the Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram's & Sons with the active interest of Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of Samuel Bronfman, Seagram's CEO.

When the Seagram Building was built, it stood out as a "modern" building. However, older buildings around it were demolished and newer buildings in a similar style were built all around it, so it just blends in now.


The Brasserie in the Seagram Building used to be THE restaurant to go to for late night dining back in the 70's...

It was the only legal restaurant
of an upscale kind in all of Midtown Manhattan. The City that never sleeps of course has always had off hours clubs whose status is questionable etc.

I remember being there about 1975 late at night with some people and just having a glass of wine and some French onion soup, with bread of course. It was all very civilized and full of a lot of middle aged ladies of all things.

Lever House

This is one of those landmark buildings that has seen changing fortunes. According to Wikipedia:

Lever House, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and located at 390 Park Avenue in New York City, is the quintessential and seminal glass box International style skyscraper according to the design principles of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Completed in 1952, it was the first curtain wall skyscraper in New York City.[2] The 92 meters tall building features an innovative courtyard and public space. Most of the headquarters of the corporations on and around Park Avenue adopted this style of building. In 1961 it was copied as the Terminal Sud of Paris-Orly and in 1965 as the highrise of the Europa-Center in Berlin.

Between 1991-98, the building deteriorated badly. It lost, for instance, most of its initial green glass panels. Unilever had only the top four floors of the building and moved its offices to Greenwich, CT.

In 1998 a German company bought the property and did an extensive restoration of it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More "Green" Apartments

In crowded Midtown, noticed external signs on these new apartments that say that are "green."

I don't know what that means exactly...

There is a new development of condos not far from where I live that boasts being "green" in a thousand respects, it seems...

The green condos seem to be selling well even in a down market. Well, you never know what people are going to go for in NY.

Parking in Manhattan

Parking a car in Manhattan is, as most people know, a really burdensome or expensive chore.

I have known people who let thousands of dollars of parking fines build up unpaid because they knew they would be moving out of state in a few years...(think the City tried to do something about this at one time but I don't know what happened).

At one time there was also a lot of vandalism of cars parked on the street and a surge of theft of higher priced cars from richer neighborhoods.

People said the Mafia controlled car thief gangs stole cars to order, and loved certain types of Mercedes autos, for instance.

Manhattan and to some extent the other boroughs are one of the few areas in the country where you can get by without owning a car.

I visited a small town in Massachusetts back in about 1977 (took the bus up) and a ten year old girl of the extended family I was visiting asked me where my car was.

I told her I didn't have one and she was dumbfounded. In fact, it IS so strange compared to the rest of America.

Of course, high gas prices get to me eventually in inflationary terms even though I am not out watching the spiral upward at gas pumps.

The Ford Foundation

Like I lot of people , I have more or less forgotten about the Ford Foundation...

It used to get a lot of press and I remember it was involved in Public Television and the development of such shows as "Sesame Street," but I have no clear idea what it does, these days.

Now dwarfed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, apparently it is no longer connected to the Ford family and has been roundly criticized both on the left and on the right for a lot of its actions.

The Wikipedia article I consulted was sort of muddled I thought. This is from a later part of it:

In 2005, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox began a probe of the foundation. Though the Ford Foundation is headquartered in New York City, it is chartered in Michigan, giving the state some jurisdiction, although many foundations are chartered in states different from where they are headquartered. Cox focused on its governance, potential conflicts of interest among board members, and what he viewed as its poor record of giving to charities in Michigan considering its origins. Between 1998 and 2002, the Ford Foundation gave Michigan charities about $2.5 million per year, far less than many other charities its size. The foundation countered that an extensive review and report by the Gaither Study Committee in 1949 had recommended that the foundation broaden its scope beyond Michigan to national and international grant-making. The report was fully endorsed by Ford's board, and the trustees subsequently voted to move the foundation to New York in 1953.[16] Cox hoped that his probe would prod the foundation into giving more to Michigan charities, and indeed it was met with some success.[17][18]

In 2010, the foundation granted $16.4 million (USD) to foundations throughout the world that advocate legalization of abortion or provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and International Planned Parenthood Foundation. In 2010, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America was elected to Ford Foundation's board of trustees. [19]

The foundation’s partnership with the New Israel Fund, which began in 2003, was frequently criticised regarding its choice of mostly liberal grantees and causes. This criticism came to light after the 2001 Durban Conference, where some NGOs funded by the foundation backed resolutions equating Israeli policies as apartheid, and later, against those groups which support the delegitimization of Israel. In response, the foundation adopted stricter criteria for funding.[20]

Incidentally, this building got an award for architecture and supposedly for its horticultural Atrium that is open to the public....I saw no sign of that at all and the building is just sort of tucked away on a block not far from the United Nations. It seems sort of eerily quiet in the middle of the day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Willoughby's- a NYC tradition

Located at Fifth Avenue and 31st Street in Manhattan, Willoughby's is one of those stores that brings back a lot of memories...

It is a venerable NYC institution and I hope it stays around for a long time to come.

Have known so many people who have relied on the place for photo supplies and other items over the years...

Painted pipe and flowers

At first I thought it was just coincidence that this pipe and flowers are both red and yellow..

Now I think it was done on purpose. People get inventive with the little spaces in front of their buildings.

Images of Hope and Despair

Signs of the seedier side of Manhattan abound near Herald Square...

Man in Elmo suit used to be working in Times Square( heard all this on the radio)--is some illegal immigrant who rents the costume and then poses for pictures with tourists.

There is a catch: Vietnam veterans get a preference for vendor's licenses for Times Square ( "One of the crumbs they throw us," said one bitterly)--

Elmo has moved to Herald Square and here is just begging...

Sign in window shows face of man saved by the Bowery Mission...

Old homeless woman sits with her rags in Herald Square.

These are not the most pleasing of images but there are much worse things going on in this City....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grand Central -- I mean, Helmsley Building

Top of tower of old Grand Central Terminal Tower (later renamed the Helmsley Building, now under different ownership I understand)--
surrounded by more modern architecture, it peeks into view like the top of some European landmark.

Helmsley Hotel

Leona Helmsley, the "Queen of Mean" who ran the Helmsley real estate empire, was interviewed on national television and said she did not pay taxes, " that's for the little people."

Remark stirred an uproar and she was sent to jail for tax evasion...

Today, she is probably a heroine to the Tea Party types
as a "job creator" who would see nothing wrong with her paying no taxes, as many big corporations do not these days, either.


Alabaster white mannequins wear what I guess is the latest in beachwear...

If you wear anything like these, remember to use plenty of sun block.

Hot Day at Tudor City

As always, warm weather attracts people to the parks in Tudor City near the East River on an escarpment above 42nd Street.

Imagine some of these people are on their lunch hour.

Kudirat Abiola Corner

Manhattan goes in big for these commemorative street signs...

Kudirat Abiola was a Nigerian Muslim woman, born in 1951, who with her husband was very active in that country's pro-democracy movement.

Her story is one of intense involvement and struggle..

A biography of her on the internet concludes:

"On June 4th 1996, a few days to the anniversary of the June 12 commemorative date when Nigerians resolved to vote out the military dictatorship, Kudirat’s life on earth ended, extinguished by assassins’ bullets. Her spirit lives on in the name and work of KIND."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

People on their scooters

One other event that comes with the Spring is all sorts of people-- all ages, shapes and sizes-- out on their scooters.

Little boy threads through a heavily crowded stretch of Herald Square...

Woman shopper is still on her scooter.

Have even seen men in business suits using them.

More Spring in NYC

This season is so short, made aware of that again today when it became hot and muggy.

Will be warm and rainy tomorrow...wish it would just keep to normal temperatures.

As I have said, Spring is too short here.

Easter Sunday

Very warm and sunny earlier in the day on Easter....rain due tonight.

Places that are open are packed with people. Don't forget, NY is a tourist town now on the scale of Paris ( maybe a little more tourist friendly than Paris, I don't know...different people have different experiences.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Variety of Houses in Murray Hill

Going way back before the Revolutionary War, a rich Quaker merchant became sort of a gentleman farmer in what would become lower Midtown...

There was a steep, rocky outcropping that over many years was cut down and dug through so the hill in Murray Hill is not so big today.

The Murrays had a rich history..some sided with the British in the Revolution, others--including the redoubtable matriarch-- supposedly invited the British General Howe over for tea and distracted him for several hours, allowing Israel Putnam and George Washington to run and escape capture with all their troops...

After 1820 or so, the city grid street plan was imposed and all the area began to be divided into lots.

According to Wikipedia:

In mid-19th century the rich, temporarily, and the upper middle class more permanently filled the brownstone row houses that filled Murray Hill's streets, the Brick Presbyterian Church followed its congregation; selling its site facing City Hall Park, it rebuilt in 1857 closer to its congregation, on the smoothed brow of Murray Hill, at Fifth Avenue and 37th Street.[14] But when J. P. Morgan built his conservative brownstone free-standing mansion in 1882 on Madison Avenue at 36th Street, which is today a part of The Morgan Library & Museum, it was considered a fashionable but slightly old-fashioned address,[15] as the rich were filling Fifth Avenue with palaces as far as Central Park. Instead stylish merchandising was changing the neighborhood; Madison Square Park, at this time considered a part of Murray Hill, was bordered by the fashionable ladies' shops of the day on Fifth Avenue.

Today's borders are officially from 34th to 42nd Street and from Third to Park Avenues...

What used to be called "Curry Hill" south of 34th Street because of its Asian Indian population now often claims to be part of Murray Hill...

Some very scenic remnants of the past still exist, such as Sniffen Court --once stables, now a courtyard of expensive townhouses-- on 36th Street.

And of course, eventually a lot of apartment buildings were built in the area...I have found two that both call themselves "The Murray Hill."

Details of St. Vartan's Cathedral

Just was looking over some of the distinctive features of St. Vartan's Armenian Cathedral at 2nd Avenue and 34th Street...

Built back in the 1960's, it seems to have been constructed as kind of a fortress!

Relief figure of Christ on side of building has just been the subject of extensive repair and renovation work.

When someone I know first saw pictures of this place, they said, "Armenians don't seem to believe much in windows, do they?"

Have no idea why window space in main cathedral building is so limited...

Adjacent administration building has lots of windows...

Morgan Lofts

Now apparently all condos, think I remember vaguely once knowing what this building was built for originally...

I will have to keep thinking about it.

All kinds of odd buildings in Manhattan get converted into apartments.

Postmodern Echoes of Art Deco

Noticed today how much a lot of Postmodern architecture in NYC echoes Art Deco design..

Think it is an improvement from simple boxes of glass and steel from era of Mises van der Rohe and the concrete and glass of Corbusier.

Haier- Gotham Hall

Haier Building and Gotham Hall on Sixth Avenue in Midtown...

Thought this place would have an interesting history...

Not really. Was just once the Greenwich Savings Bank.

Then, to quote Wikipedia:

Haier America purchased the Greenwich Savings Bank building in 2000 as its corporate headquarters.[5] In 2002, Haier rechristened it Gotham Hall and has since rented it out as an event facility for wedding ceremonies and receptions, corporate events, private parties and functions, conventions, conferences, etc. The old banking room is now Gotham Hall's Grand Ballroom, the board room is the Oak Room, and the executive office is the Green Room.[6]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Old and New Towers on Madison Square

Old Met Life tower ( from early in the 20th century) is near a new tower that shows how radically architectural concepts have changed...

The Met Life tower is based on the St. Mark's campanile in Venice...

The new one has huge solid and heavily insulated containers of water at the top to act as a counterweight to the swaying of the tall, thin tower.

This idea of the water at the top is also supposed to help buildings if they sway because of an earth tremor...

David Glasgow Farragut

People who are Latino can relate anew to an old American war hero ( "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!")--his father was from Minorca and changed his first name from Jorge to George.

The Glasgow middle name comes from Farragut's mother, who was Scots-Irish.

Born in Tennessee ( where his father ran a ferry), Farragut was the first big time Admiral in the U.S. Navy ( he earned all the titles they could think up) during the Civil War.

People still love that phrase, "Damn the torpedoes..." I have noticed.

Happy Earth Day!

I am old enough to remember the first Earth Day and thinking,
"What a good idea this is, I hope it lasts."

Now I just hope the earth lasts long enough for those who are kids now to grow up and enjoy it...

Graphic refers to precious clean water sources as being "the new oil." Countries will fight over it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Indian Garment Place

Sign says "Punjabi suits custom made for weddings."

Guess most Indians in U.S. now limit traditional garb to parties etc.

New York Life Insurance

Architect Cass Gilbert's 1928 building on Park Avenue South is home to the largest mutual life investment savings back in the country.

Actually, I am not sure what its present financial status is but I am sure you can google it up if you keep looking....

Founded in 1845 as the Nautilus Company, it has been around for a while...and acquired enormous assets. I have never heard anybody say anything bad about the company....

Gilded rooftop is distinctive landmark, much like
Met Life tower on Madison Square to its South.

Tui Na

Foot and body massage place employs old Oriental symbolism to get its message across.

Chester Alan Arthur

The 21st President of the United States was one of those who seemed to be improved by being lifted to the office...

Originally a "clubhouse" (machine) Republican,
Arthur became president when Garfield was assassinated in 1881.

Betraying his old cronies, he did his best to do away with the cynical patronage system of the time and instituted the Civil Service Reform Act.

Even Mark Twain, who was hard to please, was apparently an admirer.

Statue at North end of Madison Square draws little attention to one of those presidents who make you scratch your head when his name is mentioned.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Railing Flower Pot

Sort of cute little flower pot on top of bottom of brownstone railing...

I noticed it because twenty years ago around here, something like this probably would have been vandalized or stolen.

Street is a lot safer now.


Thought this building partially obscured by scaffolding was another boutique or antique store kind of place...

Not at all, it is a "drop in shelter" for homeless people that offers limited services,
called "Mainchance."

With the recession going on and on, the homeless population of course has increased but a lot of these people head South or West now looking for a softer climate ( climate not so soft in the South these days....).

Korean Way

They go a bit overboard putting up these street signs like the one that calls this "Korea Way" near Herald Square...

Believe most Koreans are out in Queens.

Someone came up with this special street sign idea about thirty years ago and for a while they were putting them up all over the place...not so much recently it seems to me.