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

Intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street

On the northeast corner of 57th and Fifth, where Louis Vuitton is now, Edith Wharton's aunt, Mary Mason Jones, hired architect Robert Mook and built Marble Row in 1869, a group of 7 houses, one of which she lived in. This is the development that began to make 57th Street fashionable. The Jones family, by the way, are the people we're always trying to keep up with. It was a bold move for old money to move uptown. Across the street from Mrs. Jones, Cornelius Vanderbilt II built his mansion on the northwest corner, in 1879-82.

It stood until the end of the 1920s when Bergdorf Goodman went up. In one building designed to look like several smaller buildings, Bergdorf's was the major tenant. Van Cleef and Arpels still occupies the corner space.

On the south side of 57th St. and Fifth Avenue is the Crown Building, originally the Hecksher Building, by Warren & Wetmore, 1921. When this area was the prime art dealer location, there were many galleries in this building. Glassy, slanted-front 9 West 57th Street

(Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, mid-1970s) makes it easy to see the top of the Crown Building without neckstrain.

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