Posts Tagged ‘beaux-arts buildings NYC’

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.


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 exuberant entrance of a 32nd Street hotel

November 10, 2010

Even in lit-up-in-neon Koreatown, this turn-of-the-century building is a show stopper, with one of the city’s most striking and ornate facades.

Originally built as the Aberdeen, an apartment hotel, in 1904, this Beaux-Arts beauty on East 32nd Street has got all the trappings: garlands, columns, lion heads, flowers, various curlicues, a portico, and two god-like male figures guarding the doorway.

When it opened, the Aberdeen was in the center of everything, like Broadway theaters and Ladies’ Mile shopping.

But quickly the city moved northward, leaving the Aberdeen and other former luxe hotels, such as the Wolcott and the Martinique, behind.

In the 1920s, it made a name for itself as one of the first hotels to admit unaccompanied women.

It’s now part of the La Quinta hotel chain—probably the most voluptuous hotel building they own!