NYC's Architectural Landmarks & Icons
New York City is the home of the skyscraper and the idea that taller is better. Walk the streets and you will see many styles of architecture and many historic landmark buildings that pioneered the engineering that enabled tall steel to rise above the city affording breathtaking views of the horizon and the streets below. The city's skyline itself is an icon, a New York brand. Today, that skyline is missing the World Trade Towers, destroyed 9/11/01, a day that will never be forgotten. A new building will rise on "ground zero" and it will join the other landmarks that define the city that never sleeps.
Below is a listing of NYC landmarks that you can see and experience. We will be adding to this list, but wanted to at least get you started if your interests tends toward history and architecture.
The Guggenheim Museum
1971 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street)
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to house Peggy Guggenheim's collection of contemporary art, this famous building features a 400 meter, spiralling six-story ramp that provides access to four levels of galleries lit by a large open center below a dramatic glass dome. Frank Lloyd Wright died six months before the museum was dedicated. The museum opened in 1959, to huge crowds and considerable controversy.
Radio City Music Hall
1260 Avenue of the Americas
Designed by Donald Deskey, Radio city is considered a "masterpiece of American Modernist design". It is the largest indoor theatre in the world with a marquee tht stretches a full city-block.
405 Lexington Ave. (between 42nd and 43rd streets)
A "stunning statement in Art Deco style by architect William Van Alen," the building, 77 stories, was for a short time the world's tallest, before the Empire State Building was completed. Its spire extends it height to 1048 feet. It represents one of the first uses of stainless steel over a large exposed building surface. The decorative treatment of walls changes with every set-back and includes one story-high basket-weave designs, gargoyles, and abstract automobiles. The lobby is finished in African marble and chrome steel.
Empire State Building
350 Fifth Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets
It's one of the enduring icons of New York. Designed by William Lamb and completed in 1931, the building won the "world's tallest" race of the late 1920s. You can visit the buildings observation deck for a spectacular view of the city below.
Broadway and 23rd
New Yorks first "skyscraper" designed by Daniel Burnham. Built in 1902 by George Fuller, the "inventer" of the skyscraper. Fuller solved the problem of the "load bearing capacities" of tall buildings by creating steel cages that supported the weight of the building instead of the outside walls. The building came to be known as the Flatiron Building due to its triangular shape. It is just six feet wide at its narrow end, resembling a flat iron conforming to the small triangular patch of ground between 23rd and 22nd streets on which it was built.
The expression "23 skidoo" supposedly came from police breaking up crowds of men hanging at the corner of 23rd Street. It seems the angled Flatiron Building generated a wind-tunnel effect that blew women's dresses up exposing their ankles, risque business in those times.
This wonderful green space in the middle of New York's urban jungle, considered by many to be the one thing that makes living in the city bearable, was the first urban landscaped park in the United States. It was built at its location in the center of Manhattan because the land was determined to be unfit for commercial development. Entirely man made and masterfully designed by park superintendent Frederick Law Olmsted and architect Calvert Vaux, it took ten years to build at a cost of 10 million dollars. The park originally occupied two and a half miles from 59th Street to 106th Street. It was extended north to 110th Street in 1863.
Grand Central Station
East 42nd Street at Park Avenue
One of the great buildings in America. A vast, magestic open terminal is flooded by natural light that pours through the arched windows that line the upper level of the terminal hub. A mural of the night sky with 2,500 twinkling lights adorns the famous blue ceiling and statues of Hercules, Minerva and Mercury surround a thirteen foot clock on the exterior entrance facade. Designed by the architecture firm of Reed & Stern and Warren and Wetmore, this example of the Beaux Arts style was completed in 1913 taking 10 years to construct. It was cleaned and repaired in the 1990s due to a public campaign to presere this historic NYC landmark that is used by over 400,000 people on a daily basis.
18 Broad Street
The New York Stock Exchange building is neoclassical in design and is considered one of the architect's George B. Post's masterpieces. It is a New York City and national landmark and a symbol of American enterprise and captialism worldwide. The building is an enduring icon. The building was opened in 1903 following the demolition of the old exchange building in 1901. It cost $4 million, a cost overrun of $3 million due to problems removing the original building, its vaults and as you might expect... labor issues, design changes and unplanned additions. The Exchange is one of the first buildings in the world to be air-conditioned. Features include a window wall and 30 sq.ft. skylight above the trading floor. The exterior facade sculpture by John Quincy Adams Ward is entitled "Integity Protecting the Works of Man". The original marble sculpture was replaced in 1936 by a lead coated replica. Pollution had destroyed the stone.
Statue of Liberty
New York Harbor
A gift from the French government, the statue was meant to be a memorial to the idea of independence and dedicated to the idea of human liberty. The statue was designed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi who began is art career as a painter.
The statue's design was influenced by Bartholdi's trip to Egypt where he was inspired to create art on a grand scale after experiencing the Pyramids and the Sphinx. He was also influenced by his friendship with Count Ferdinand-Marie de Lesseps, the man behind the Suez Canal. Some people believe the Statue of Liberty was modeled after an Egyptian peasant woman with light beams eminating from her headband and torch, a design Bartholdi proposed in 1867 for a lighthouse at the entrance of the Suez that was never commissioned. Others believe the model was his wife. It is a mystery. The actual statue was funded by public donations in France. The pedestal in the harbor on which it stands was funded by a public donation drive, begun by Joseph Pulitzer, owner of the World newspaper. The finished monument was unveiled on October 28, 1886 and was the tallest structure in New York at the time, standing 305 feet. President Calvin Coolidge declared the Statue of Liberty a national monument on October 15, 1924. The statue was restored at the cost of $86 million in time for the Bicentennial in July 4,1986.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
A major feat of engineering, the Brooklyn Bridge was built by the New York Bridge Company. It is a suspension bridge supported by towers constructed from granite quarried in Maine. Actual excavation work on the Brooklyn Bridge site began in January, 1870 under a design plan approved by President Ulysses Grant. Excavation at the site was done using picks and shovels, wheelbarrows, winches and 10 ton hydraulic jacks. Caissons were used for the underwater work, which was ground-breaking in its methodology and dangerous. The bridge's Design Engineer was John Augustus Roebling, Chief Engineer was Wilhelm Hildenbrand. Roebling died in July, 1869 as a result of an accident at the Brooklyn Fulton Ferry slip while he was making observations to determine the exact locations of the bridge tower. His son, Washington Roebling took over as Chief Engineer on the project. He contracted caisson disease in the summer of 1972 and was confined to his bedroom where he continued to supervise the bridge construction through his wife. The bridge was opened on May 24, 1883.
It was the world's tallest building when it was completed in 1913, measuring 792 feet and towering over lower Manhattan. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert, it was considered to be a leading example of tall building design when completed. The building combines Gothic architecture design elements (copper spires, stained glass windows, cast-iron trim and ornate terra-cota detailing around the windows) with modern, concrete-coated steel frame construction techniques, necessary to withstand high-winds. The building does not sway, period. The lobby is decorated with marble, bronze and mosaics with gargoyles that are caricatures of the the buildings architect Cass Gilbert, owner Frank Woolworth of the dime store chain who commissioned the the building, and other people connected to the two year building project.
Met Life Building
200 Park Avenue
This building was part of the reconstruction of the Grand Central Terminal and became the Pan Am Building when it was completed in 1963. Today this unique, octagonal shaped building is the MetLife Building. It punctuates Park Avenue, pushing 808 feet into the sky.
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