Posts Tagged ‘Carrere and Hastings’

A Houston Street park inspired by a Paris palace

January 2, 2014

Opened in 1900 on Houston and Pitt Streets, Hamilton Fish Park was one of the city’s first playgrounds.

Created after the 1887 passing of the Small Parks Act, it provided a gymnasium, outdoor play area, and later two pools for neighborhood kids living in tight quarters and no place to run and play.

Hamiltonfishparkbldg

Parks officials could have hammered together a functional yet unsightly gymnasium.

But with the idea in mind that public architecture should be inspiring, the city had Carrere and Hastings—the heralded firm behind Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza, the Frick Mansion, and the Public Library on 42nd Street—to design a gymnasium building that would also serve as an entrance to the park.

Petitpalaisfacade

Carrere and Hastings used the Petit Palais in Paris as their inspiration. It’s not quite an exact replica of the circa-1900 gallery on the Champs-Elysees  built for the Universal Exposition that year.

But you can see the similarities and appreciate Carrere and Hastings’ attempt to bring something lovely to what was then an overcrowded, terribly poor neighborhood.

It’s not the first time New York architects were inspired by Europe; the Bronx’s main thoroughfare pays homage to the Champs-Elysees, while Jefferson Market courthouse takes a Bavarian castle as its inspiration.

A Beaux-Arts facade on 31st Street has a secret

January 16, 2013

LifeheadquartersOnce-fashionable 31st Street is a good place to hunt for hidden architectural gems. And number 19, just west of Fifth Avenue, is a striking example.

Look past the Herald Square Hotel sign, and its Beaux-Arts beauty comes to light: a limestone and red brick building with enormous arched front windows.

They frame a cherub holding a pen, surrounded by symbols of the arts: musical instruments, paintbrushes, and a pad. The words “wit” and “humor” appear on a banner.

So what’s it all about? The clue lies under the third-floor front windows. Beneath each window is the word “Life”—for the magazine that once was headquartered here.

When Life moved into the building, designed in 1895 by architects Carrere and Hastings (the same guys who designed the New York Public Library), it was a different publication from the 20th century version.

Lifeheadquarterscherub

Life was a general-interest humor magazine, similar to rivals Puck and the New Yorker, and they published a fairly impressive group of literary and artistic talents, including Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl illustrations that debuted in the 1890s.

The cherub was sculpted by Philip Martiny. “Winged Life” is its name, and it symbolized a magazine that in the 1930s was turned into a photo weekly and then shut down in 2000.

The architect who helped design New York

January 2, 2009

The Frick Museum, Grand Army Plaza, the Forbes building—these are just some of the iconic structures credited to gilded age architectural firm Carrere and Hastings.

carrereportrait

 In 1911, just two months before the opening of the firm’s biggest gig yet—the New York Public Library Building on 42nd Street—architect John Mervin Carrere (pictured at left) was killed in a Manhattan taxi accident.

The day after his funeral, his body lay in state in the rotunda of the almost-finished library, a tribute to a man who helped create and shape the look of 20th century New York City.


 

 

 

carrerestaircase

In 1916, the city dedicated this commemorative staircase in Riverside Park at 99th Street to Carrere. It’s not in the best condition, and the plaque bearing his name is quite modest for someone whose aesthetic vision is stamped all over the city to this day.

carrereplaque


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