Posts Tagged ‘Stanford White’

For fans of Stanford White’s Gilded Age New York

September 7, 2018

UPDATE POST for everyone who gave me their name for the Stanford White event: all names (Susan Spector got the last seat) have been added to the list and confirmed by Landmark West, an event co-sponsor. For more information, go to this link.

If you’re fascinated by the architecture and excitement of New York’s Gilded Age, then this is for you.

On September 12, the The National Arts Club and Landmark West are hosting an hour-long program called “Temples of Power, Temples of Pleasure: Stanford White’s Manhattan.”

Author Paula Uruburu will offer insight into White’s creative genius and scandalous love life. The program and a Q and A take place at the beautiful National Arts Club building at 15 Gramercy Park South.

If any Ephemeral New York readers would like to attend, please message me and I can add your name to a list; admission will be free.

Landmark West has more info here.

Why a Gramercy playground honors a sculptor

May 23, 2011

City parks and playgrounds named for a specific person usually memorialize a political bigwig or community leader, not an artist.

Which makes it a bit of a mystery as to why the playground on Second Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets is named for Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

It’s not that he doesn’t deserve the honor. Saint-Gaudens created many of late 19th century America’s most beautiful bronze sculptures.

He’s the genius behind the 1881 Admiral Farragut statue in Madison Square Park, as well as General Sherman on a horse led by winged Victory at Grand Army Plaza on Fifth Avenue, unveiled in 1903.

So why was his name given to a playground opened in 1966? It must have to do with his roots in the neighborhood.

When he was a boy, his French-born father, a cobbler, opened a shop on Fourth Avenue (now Park Avenue South) and 21st Street.

As a student, Saint-Gaudens attended Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design, on 23rd Street in the 1860s.

He then got himself a studio on 14th Street and Fourth Avenue—in the same building as up-and-coming architects Stanford White and Charles McKim.

The ladies who watch over The Cable Building

September 19, 2010

These sturdy, colossal women flank an entrance to this McKim, Mead, & White beauty, on Broadway and Houston Street. 

Opened in 1893, The Cable Building served as a power plant for the city’s growing cable car system—but its technology was obsolete just a decade later. 

Now, it houses offices, the Angelika Film Center, and Crate & Barrel.

The bachelor apartments of Washington Square

June 18, 2010

For young artists new to New York City in the 1870s, finding a place to live and work was tough. Landlords and boarding-house owners looked at bachelors with suspicion. Money was always tight.

Which is why a local businessman built this six-story red brick apartment building on Washington Square East in 1879.

Its rooms were intended for unmarried men only. The name, the Benedick, reflected the clientele: Benedick is the bachelor in Much Ado About Nothing.

Because the Benedick had studios on the top floor, it attracted artists, such as Winslow Homer (left) and John LaFarge.

Things may have gotten smutty there in the 1880s. That’s when it became home base for the Sewer Club, which included Stanford White and Augustus St. Gaudens.

The Sewer Club could have been innocent fun, but since notorious womanizer Stanford White was a member, well, probably not.

By the 1920s, the Benedick was bought by New York University; bachelor artists had to find living quarters just like everyone else.

Snakes and urns in Prospect Park

January 28, 2010

Those are some menacing-looking Brooklyn snakes, aren’t they? They form the handles of a series of Grecian urns that greet passersby and park-goers at the Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park.

Fourteen urns just like this—that’s 56 snakes total—top a low wall. The bronze originals were placed there by Stanford White, part of the design team brought in to redo the park’s entrance in the 1890s.

Over the years, many of the urns disappeared—well, were stolen is more like it. These cast-iron replicas replaced them.

Strivers’ Row: a glimpse of genteel old Harlem

November 16, 2009

“Walk Your Horses” say the inscriptions on the entry gates that lead to the alleys of Strivers’ Row, a two-block time capsule back into Harlem history.

Striversrow1

Like a lot of the neighborhood, these aristocratic townhouses, spanning 138th and 139th Streets between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, were built in the 1890s for wealthy whites.

Striversrow2

But when white New Yorkers deserted Harlem just a decade later, middle- and upper-class black families moved in—hence the striver reference. Each house had modern plumbing, detailed woodwork, and shared back courtyards. Plus stables for horses, of course.

Strivers’ Row mixes a couple of different architectural styles. (Stanford White had his hand in designing some). The result is a harmonious couple of blocks as lovely as any in the Village or brownstone Brooklyn—but lesser-known, practically a neighborhood secret.

Madison Square Garden on the move

October 14, 2009

Ever wonder why it’s called Madison Square Garden—when it’s not near Madison Square? 

The current Garden, on 33rd Street, is the fourth incarnation of New York’s premier sports and entertainment arena.

MSGfirstThe first, at right, opened in 1879. Occupying an old railroad depot at Madison Avenue and 26th Street, it became a successful, 10,000-seat venue that featured boxing, bike racing, and ice hockey.

A decade later it was torn down. Famed architect Stanford White designed the second MSG in 1890, below left. This beautiful, 8,000-seat Moorish structure sported cupolas, arches, and a 32-story tower that made it the second tallest building in the city. 

MSG2

 Madison Square Garden II’s rooftop restaurant became a chic place for New York’s Gilded Age elite to socialize. It’s also where White was murdered in 1906.

He was shot point-blank by Harry Thaw, the jealous husband of a teenage showgirl the 40-ish White had been having an affair with.

By 1925, White’s palace met the wrecking ball, and the third MSG was completed at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue. This arena was home to the Rangers, Knicks, and lots of boxing matches.

Outdated by the late sixties, it was replaced in 1968 by the fourth and current Garden, built on the hallowed grounds of the original Penn Station.