Walks in New York and elsewhere

My comments on buildings, shops, restaurants that catch my eye as I wander around New York City and other places.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The block between Second and Third avenues is lined mostly with tall, nondescript mid-20th century buildings with retail establishments of various types on the ground floor. The High School of Art and Design on the south west corner and McDonald's on the northwest corner signal that we've entered into different territory.

At 251 East 57th Street is Extraordinary, a gift shop that carries attractive moderately-priced things for the home, including unusual, but tasteful picture frames and tabletop gew-gaws. Nothing you can't do without, but worth a look if you are passing by. A superior dry-cleaning establishment, Meurice, is at 245 East 57th. A certain fastidious tie-wearer swears that they make ties look new.

At the time that many buildings in midtown and the Upper East Side were being built with glazed white brick facades, there was also a tiny fad for buildings clad in glazed blue brick. Over time, most of those have been altered in conformity with today's tastes, but 220 East 57th Street is still blue, if otherwise undistinguished. What sets this building apart from all others is Lillian Nassau, part store, part gallery, part museum. Lillian Nassau sells only Tiffany lamps and French art nouveau furniture. Here is a picture of part of the window display. (My little camera has no way of dealing with reflections and I was not permitted to take a picture inside...) Imagine what these beauties cost. No, they cost more. I was relieved to learn that because the glass is quite thick, the bronze mountings are strong and the bases are so heavy that it's almost impossible to lift the lamp off the table, they are quite sturdy, despite their delicate appearance. The Brooklyn Museum of Art has a wonderful collection of these and MoMA has some too, but in the store, you can examine the lamps much more closely to truly appreciate the fine detail.

Across the street, at 220 East 57th, is Waterworks, for fine bathroom fixtures and accessories. How about a copper tub? Too much trouble to keep it shiny? How about a spa in your bathroom instead?

To furnish the rest of the home, take a look at Maurice Villency, on the south east cornoer of 57th and Third, but only if you have love contemporary design and have very deep pockets.

At the corner, look to the right to see a corner of a new building designed by Cesar Pelli that takes up the entire square block between 59th and 60th Streets and Third and Lexington avenues.

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