Posts Tagged ‘grotesques’

Four men hanging out on a 41st Street building

May 18, 2011

The history of the building they’re on, at 114 West 41st Street, holds the key to who these Medieval-looking men are and why they were carved into the facade in the first place.

It must have had something to do with the trades.

Each cross-legged figure is doing something: The first is holding a heavy hammer, the next one has a wheel or gear in one hand and a tool in the other.

The third man cradles an object in his arms I can’t make out. A globe? The fourth grips two cups.

The building is empty; the owners have a big sign up trying to attract new tenants to this space in the center of what they’re called the city’s “transportation triangle.”

Too bad the website offers to hint as to who built it and why.

The faces on the Flatiron Building

August 5, 2009

FlatironbuildingpostcardThe Flatiron Building is so striking and unusual, it’s easy to get caught up gazing at the overall shape and design and not notice that near the top of its 22 floors are some rather unfriendly faces.

These grotesques, like this one below, have been staring pedestrians down since 1902, when the Flatiron Building—originally called the Fuller Building—opened. It was an early New York skyscraper and one of its tallest for years.

Though not an immediate architectural hit, its cultural impact was established fast. Artists photographed and painted the building, and writers referenced its beauty.

In 1906, H.G. Wells wrote: “I found myself agape, admiring a skyscraper—the prow of the Flatiron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the late-afternoon light.”


Fun fact: The term “flatiron” was used before the building was ever conceived; it’s what locals called the iron-shaped triangular plot at Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 22nd, and 23rd Streets upon which the building was eventually constructed.

Who watches you on the streets of New York

March 4, 2009

Some faces are beautiful and angelic, like this one on a dingy storefront on West 14th Street:














Then there are the sad-eyed and frightful. This man stands watch outside a tenement in the East 70s: