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With its graceful Art Deco spire and mighty eagle hood ornaments, the Chrysler Building has long outshone the taller Empire State Building in aesthetic allure. Designed by William Van Alen and nearing completion in 1930, the Chrysler stood neck-and-neck with its rival, the Manhattan Company Building, for tallest in the world.

(Photo is of photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White atop the Chrysler Building.  c. 1930)

 

Thank you, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, for alerting us to City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s new audit of the city’s POPs — and also for explaining what Privately Owned Public Spaces are.

The photo above of 200 E. 64th Street well illustrates the games building owners play.  That area behind the planters is supposed to be open to the public. The developer received over 25,000 square feet of additional floor space in return.

By David Brussat
 
In the morning of July 10, 2006, Dr. Nicholas Bartha, 66, took his own life by blowing up the townhouse he had resolved to live in until his death. The story of marital failure leading to lawsuits leading to the gas explosion is too sad to recount and beside the point of this post.  The lot at 34 East 62nd St., on one of Manhattan’s wealthiest blocks, has been empty for a decade. The battle to build anew has pitted preservationists against each other, and exposes the preservation ethos at its worst.The New York Times and The Architects Newspaper reported on the battle over the most recent design proposal.The controversy reminds me of the 1845 Greek Revival townhouse in Greenwich Village that was demolished during a 1970 attempt by the Weather Underground to build a bomb. It was replaced in 1978 by a quasi-modernist townhouse of brick, designed by Hugh Hardy in the same style except that its three bays seem to swivel on a vertical access so that half of it swings in on the building facade and the other half swings out. Really quite an interesting response to the site’s history, much more ingeniously creative than might be expected of a modernist. Lovely, in fact.