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

From 7th Avenue to 8th Avenue

After crossing 7th Avenue, look over your shoulder to catch a glimpse of Alwyn Court, a designated landmark on the southeast corner of 58th Street and 7th Avenue. It was designed by Harde & Short to suggest Francis I (with lots of terra cotta salamanders) and built in 1907. Originally, each apartment took up either a half or whole floor, the rooms having a view of an interior courtyard. The apartments have since been sub-divided. An outpost of Petrossian, a French purveyor of caviar and smoked fish is located in this building, as well as a quiet, grown-up, in not exciting, restaurant by the same name.

On the southwest corner of 57th and 7th, at 200, is another designated landmark studio building, designed by Cass Gilbert, 1916-17. Gilbert designed this after he completed the Woolworth Building.
The windows are the thing on all studio buildings, of course, but in this one,l they are especially striking. The style recalls French Gothic.

Across the street is designated landmark, The Osborne, by James E. Ware, 1885, an early apartment building in one of the earliest apartment building districts and still one of the city's best, in my opinion, in a melding of Romanesque and Renaissance Revival. Traditional American building style names are quite fanciful and sometimes relate only superficially to the styles from which they were derived.
I was not able to take a picture of the lobby, and that's too bad. This building has always been popular with musicians.

Just west of The Osborne is the Art Students League, a French Renaissance confection designed by Henry Hardenbergh and built in 1892, for the American Fine Arts Society, the Society of American Artists and the Architectural League. It is a designated landmark. Judging from the art in the windows, a conservative, traditional kind of art is taught here.


At 221, the Hard Rock cafe still sports a pink Cadillac canopy, but isn't it going to be moving to Times Square?

The Morton Williams Associated Supermarket to the west has free wi-fi at the tables in the window and Hero jam 2 for $5.

I almost forgot the Brooklyn Diner, another Shelly Fireman restaurant.

Also on the south side, is Lee's Art Shop in a building that is not designated. I'm sure that it received careful consideration and was probably rejected because it has undergone too much alteration.
It was the clubhouse for the American Society of Civil Engineers and later, a Schrafft's restaurant. It was built in 1897, designed by Cyrus Eidlitz and expanded a few years later by the same architect.

Broadway slices in here and at the s.e. corner of the intersection, 224 West 57th St., are two adjoining buildings designed by Francis H. Kimball, 1909, that were originally built for the automobile industry, which was centered on this part of Broadway.

If you look to the right as you cross Broadway, you can catch a glimpse of 240 Central Park South (a designated landmark apartment building in a simplifed art moderne or functionalist style, notable for its massing), the Trump building that houses Jean-Georges and the highly-controversial building at 2 Columbus Circle that will be the home of the American Crafts Museum, now known as the Museum for Arts and Design. The landmarks commission has unequivocally stated that it will not consider designating 2 Columbus Circle, over very vociferous objections from some preservationists. The Dahesh Museum wanted to buy the building and restore it, but the better politically-connected (and more well-established) Crafts Museum got the nod, even though it is planning a major renovation that will obliterate many of the building's characteristic features. The building was originally designed by Edward Durell Stone to house Huntington Hartford's art collection. The interior is very luxuriously appointed, but has been allowed to deteriorate over the years.

At the n.w. corner of 57th and Broadway, where a Bank of America branch and Daffy's are now, was Coliseum books, relocated on 42nd Street between 5th and 6th in a much smaller space. It remains, in its new digs, one of the few general interest independent bookstores still standing.

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