As noted before, I didn’t walk up fifth avenue as much this holiday season for…reasons. I did try to brave it once or twice to grab shots of the tree, but didn’t get any post-worthy ones due to the size of the crowds and the traffic that kept getting in the way in unfortunate ways. But I did grab this nice angle of rockefeller center one evening despite the jostling.
marquee for the Joyce Theater in Chelsea.
The most common definition for corruption has to do with grift and dishonesty. But corruption can also mean decay and rot.
Both variations of the word are appropriate here.
When people learn about late 19th and early 20th-century New York City political corruption, one person (Boss Tweed) and his machine, Tammany Hall are at the heart of the story. But what people generally don’t realize is that Tammany Hall was an actual, physical…hall. It had a few locations, and this was the last.
The building has spent the last few decades operating as the union square theater, and is now vacant and being gut renovated.
If you get up close, you can see the inscriptions to the old order of Tammany along the side. My favorite though, is the discovery of grift never ends – they’re attempting to preserve some of the friezes on the building, and they’re basically disintegrating to the touch because it turns out that they’re just something like plaster of Paris instead of proper building-grade materials. Heh.
In 2009, I took this photo below of the Grace Building plaza. At the time it was an empty, windswept “public space” in name only, that lent itself to nice photographs but was otherwise just a drab, unwelcoming empty space. The very epitome of many of the “privately owned public spaces”* around the city, where the public got little-to-nothing in return for the rights that were ceded to building owners in exchange.
In the intervening six years, the explosion of ‘pop-up’ restaurants and other food truck-adjacent businesses have exploded around the city, and the owners of this plaza took notice. There are a few small shops, and actual seating now. Not just tables and chairs, but they replaces the sad planters along the right wall with trees that have surrounding benches. In addition, it even looks like they’ve replaced the ominous black glass on the building doors with something more open and inviting. A little worse for photographic aesthetics. Much better for humanity.
*Privately Owned Public Spaces, or “POPS”, are spaces that building owners agree to build for the public in exchange for various rights to construct buildings that don’t entirely conform to existing zoning regulations – so a building could be taller than its neighbors, if it has a plaza, or a public atrium, or some sort of park. There’s been some news about these recently because the lobby of Trump Tower is technically a POPS, but Trump had removed the benches and installed a ‘gift’ counter. After some press, the benches were returned.
Back in June (yes, I’m still on June pictures), I finally ventured up to the high bridge. I had been meaning to wander up there ever since it had re-opened, but my earlier attempts last summer had all been hijacked by heat waves or rainy days.
The high bridge is actually the oldest bridge in New York City, originally built in 1848 as part of the Croton aqueduct system. It connects upper manhattan and the bronx, and it fell into disrepair over the years, finally getting shut down over 40 years ago because it was considered too dangerous. Partially inspired by the restoration/renovation of the High Line in Manhattan, it was decided to bring it back from the dead, and it finally reopened last year to pedestrians.
Given the absence of overabundant gardening, it is obviously a different aesthetic than the high line, but it does connect two parks at either end, and proves quite exquisite views. Definitely worth at least one trip (on a day that’s not too hot. or rainy).
Detail on the mechanics association building on 44th street in Manhattan. The society itself was founded in the 1700s and provides free construction trade classes among other things.
The building, according to wikipedia:
Located today at 20 West 44th Street, across from the Harvard Club of New York, the building is the fifth home of the General Society and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally designed by Lamb and Rich and constructed as the Berkeley School for Boys, the building was acquired by The General Society in 1899. Member and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie provided the funds to significantly expand the building in 1903. In order to accommodate more students, two wings were added to the rear and three new upper stories replaced an original fourth-floor gymnasium. The expansion was designed by Ralph S. Townsend and blends monumental Beaux Arts classicism with Renaissance elements.
beautiful Art Deco revolving door entrance at the post office in the federal building at 90 Church Street.
90 Church Street was designed by Cross & Cross, Pennington, Lewis & Mills and Louis A. Simon, who was Supervising Architect of the Department of the Treasury at the time. The architectural style of the building is a mixture of Neo-classicism and Art Deco…
The building was completed in 1935, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
But this is the really important part:
The building suffered moderate damage during the September 11 attacks due to a remnant of one of the planes and other debris landing on top of the building. Following the collapse of the World Trade Centers Twin Towers, the building’s facade was damaged, windows were broken, and major water damage occurred. It was also extensively contaminated with asbestos, lead dust, fungi, fiberglass dust, mercury, and bacteria…During recovery efforts at Ground Zero, the United Stated Postal Service worked to return individual pieces of mail found by rescue workers to the addressees…
Just a reminder that despite the vilification of our entire government workforce on a regular basis, your mail still shows up like clockwork.
(That may have gotten a little rantier than I intended when I started!)
I used to work across from this building, and prior to its renovation/takeover by a different corporate owner, the lobby was home/host to a great masterwork of American art, America Today by Thomas Hart Benton. That mural has been donated to the Met, where you now have* to pay extortionate entrance fees to see it.
As a replacement, the public gets to see this bland, anodyne piece of corporate nothingness.
*the Met is a public institution and as such has “suggested” entrance fees, so some people get bold and only pay a penny. Most people do not realize that you can actually do this and take the prices at face value. There was actually a lawsuit over how they worded their signs and “enforced” payment – which the Met lost.