Posts Tagged ‘St. Paul’s Chapel Broadway’

13 stories of Art Nouveau beauty in Manhattan

March 13, 2017

The magnificent boulevards of Prague and Vienna are resplendent with Art Nouveau building facades, lobbies, and public transit entrances.

But the sinuous lines and naturalistic curves characteristic of this artistic style never caught on in turn-of-the-century New York, where architects seemed to prefer the stately Beaux Arts or more romantic Gothic Revival fashion.

It’s this rarity of Art Nouveau in Gotham that makes the 13-story edifice at 20 Vesey Street so spectacular.

Completed in 1907, this is the former headquarters for the New York Evening Post—the precursor to today’s New York Post, founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton.

The building is across the street from the graveyard behind St. Paul’s Chapel off Broadway, a wonderful place to look up and linger.

Architect Robert D. Kohn designed the limestone structure with three rows of wavy windows and crowned it with a copper roof.

At the 10th floor, Kohn added a playful touch for a media company: four figures meant to represent the “Four Periods of Publicity“: the spoken word, the written word, the printed word, and the newspaper.

Note the “EP” insignia decorating the iron railings that link the four figures.

The Evening Post moved out in 1930, and today 20 Vesey is known as the Garrison Building, which houses a fairly typical mix of businesses behind its European-like facade.

Art Nouveau–inspired buildings are scattered in different pockets of New York, such as this former department store on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street.

Plans for an Art Nouveau hotel around the corner on Church Street drawn up in 1908 by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, unfortunately, never panned out.

[Third photo, 1910, MCNY x2010.7.1.887]

Traffic, rent, and dandies: the big gripes of 1837

February 18, 2013

Aglanceatnewyorkcover1About 176 years ago, newspaper editor Asa Greene published A Glance at New York, outlining the city’s problems.

Quotes from this curmudgeonly tome were reprinted in a 1946 New York Times article with the headline “New York Was Always Like This,” which pointed out that the gripes of 1837 are the same ones of 1946.

And no surprise, they’re same complaints we toss around today.

Traffic? It was just as bad in pre-Civil War New York as it is now. Green gave a bracing account of what it was like trying to cross Broadway, packed with “omnibuses, coaches, and other vehicles” (below, at St. Paul’s Chapel):


“To perform the feat with any degree of safety, you must button your coat tight about you, see that your shoes are secure at the heels, settle your hat firmly on your head, look up street and down street, at the self-same moment, to see what carts and carriages are upon you, and then run for your life.”

DandyRising rents? Green whinged about it, then came to the conclusion many New Yorkers hold today:

“Such an increase in the expense of living, if it do not cause absolute famine . . . will at least afford such discouragements and obstacles to the dwellers of New York that they will naturally turn their backs upon the city and seek a residence elsewhere.”

Finally, Green lobs insults at the hipsters of his era: the stylish men then known as dandies:

“Like other great cities, New York has her share of this class of the biped without feathers. . . . Our present dandies may be divided into three classes, namely chained dandies, switched dandies, and quizzing-glass dandies.”

“These are so distinguished, as the reader will readily conceive, from those harmless pieces of ornament which they severally wear about their persons or carry in their hands.”

“Their speech is exceedingly parrotlike, and mostly consists in the use of a single word, which is applied promiscuously to all sorts of articles. They are all ‘shuperb.'”