Grocery shopping is an inspiring experience at the Food Emporium at 59th Street and First Avenue.
Instead of a box-like store with bad fluorescent lighting, this giant supermarket tucked beneath the Queensboro Bridge is like a cathedral, with graceful arches and pillars and beautiful vaulted ceilings lined with Guastavino tiles.
Bridgemarket, as the site is known, is one of many spaces in the city designed by architect Rafael Guastavino.
“Guastavino, an architect from Barcelona, pioneered the adaptation of a centuries-old vernacular building technology called the boveda catalana, or Catalan vault, in which long flat tiles are laid in courses and mortared together with a special mixture of portland cement and cow bay sand,” states Architecture Week.
“Guastavino vaults can be found in numerous grand interiors, including Grand Central Terminal, the U.S. Customs House, and the main hall at Ellis Island.”
Bridgemarket didn’t get its name from its association with Food Emporium. The site actually housed a farmer’s market in the early 1900s.
Guastavino also designed the vaulted ceilings of the long-closed, absolutely beautiful City Hall subway station.