Whoa!... wait a minute.... MidtownGuy!!???
Would you all please keep the thread on topic. Thanks.
Whoa!... wait a minute.... MidtownGuy!!???
Welcome back Midtown Guy. Watching a movie at a house like The Roxy must have been something.
It occurs to me that if all of New York's lost classic skyscrapers (& other landmark buildings)demolished in the last 50 years could be resurrected into a new metropolis, you'd have a city about as big as downtown Hartford at a level of beauty, power and grace unmatched by anything we are able to build today.
Here's a sampling of such a place:
Last edited by RandySavage; March 10th, 2009 at 01:29 AM.
I'm going to move right up to the magic number -- but, unless there's something really spectacular to report on, the crossing of that line will have to wait until I've Returned, Rested + Relaxed.
Streetscapes | Fifth Avenue and 34th Street
Stanford White’s Backdrop for the Panic of 1907
Left, McKim, Mead & White/Office for Metropolitan History; center, Office for Metropolitan History, right, Konrad Fiedler for The New York Times
From left: The Knickerbocker Trust Company in 1904; in 1952, after its 1921 enlargement; and as it looks today.
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
Published: March 5, 2009
THE continuing banking debacle presents some parallels with the sad case of Charles Tracy Barney, who in the Panic of 1907 lost control of the Knickerbocker Trust Company, which shut down to his disgrace. And just as Mr. Barney’s tragedy was playing out, the seeds were sown for the mutilation of his superb 1903 bank at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, designed by Stanford White.
Review of Reviews/Office for Metropolitan History
The bank's builder, Charles Tracy Barney, around 1905. He shot himself after the bank failed in the Panic of 1907.
Architecture Magazine/Office for Metropolitan History
The Knickerbocker Trust Company's banking room in 1904.
Mr. Barney was well connected in social and business circles when he became president of Knickerbocker Trust in 1897. In the next 10 years the bank’s deposits grew to $61 million from $10 million, and in 1901 Barney retained McKim, Mead & White to design a 14-story bank and office building at the northwest corner of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, as important a location as is 57th and Fifth today.
For reasons unknown, Mr. Barney scaled the project back to three stories — but oh, what stories! Stanford White created one of the most spectacular banks in New York, a sumptuous Corinthian-columned temple of Vermont marble on the outside and Norway marble inside the high banking room.
Just before it was completed in 1903, the city brought suit to scale back Mr. Barney’s temple, noting that its columns, cornices and steps extended out onto the public sidewalks by as much as 15 feet.
Such encroachments had long been commonplace and even, at least on Fifth Avenue, expressly permitted. But pressure was building to widen Fifth for the increasing glut of vehicles.
The Department of Buildings had approved the project every step of the way, but litigation persisted for years amid sympathy for the bank and its willingness to build a civic ornament. In November 1906, The Real Estate Record and Guide predicted that surely “special arrangements” for “really beautiful buildings” could be made.
The year 1907 saw an unsettled, declining stock market, a budget crisis in New York City, continued economic fallout from the San Francisco earthquake the year before, and other financial problems.
In October, several banks connected with Charles W. Morse and F. Augustus Heinze failed.
Both men were held in low regard by many in the financial community. Indeed, Mr. Morse was convicted for bank fraud in 1910 in an unrelated case and, according to “The Panic of 1907” by Robert F. Bruner and Sean D. Carr (Wiley, 2007), while in prison met Charles Ponzi, who developed the infamous pyramid scheme.
When it became known that Mr. Morse and Mr. Heinze were associated in some projects with Mr. Barney, he was obliged to resign from the bank he had helped create on Monday, Oct. 21.
But in that nervous climate, rubbing shoulders with such men was enough to precipitate a run on the Knickerbocker. On Tuesday, Oct. 22, so many depositors showed up that the police were called in to keep order.
Lines wound around each other in giant spirals in the great marble banking room before snaking out the door. Men and women stood in separate lines — women usually conducted their business in a separate office. The bank had substantial assets, but most were not liquid, and it could pay out only $8 million. The Knickerbocker Trust Company closed that day at 12:35 p.m., shutting out hundreds of unsatisfied depositors.
In December, The American Review of Reviews said that the problem had largely been caused by the “unreasoning alarm of women depositors” and that the bank’s failure created “a veritable panic on a continental scale.”
The financier J. P. Morgan stepped in and organized the financial community to save most of the other faltering institutions, often by a hairbreadth. But he had come late into the Knickerbocker crisis, and considered it too weak to save.
The Panic of 1907 dissipated before the year was up, although some institutions never got back on track. It all came too late for Mr. Barney, who on Nov. 14, at the age of 56, shot himself. He lived for four hours.
Two days after the suicide, The American Architect commented coldly that the low-rise Knickerbocker bank, “so much in fashion just now, is really nothing so much as an advertisement,” and that “when disaster comes, a well-rented skyscraper is a more valuable asset.”
In March 1908, Knickerbocker Trust reopened, and The New York Tribune reported that all depositors received their money in full.
That October, The New York Times said that almost every other bank had paid off fully, the recovery essentially complete, along with the stock market. For instance, U.S. Steel had been trading early in 1907 at 50 3/8, and fell to 21 7/8 after the crash. But a year later, it was back to 47 1/2.
The original Knickerbocker Trust building survived until 1921, according to an account in The Times. The little bank then sprouted a 10-floor enlargement, also designed by McKim, Mead & White. The vertical addition sheared off the columns and other projecting ornaments, but left the pilasters along with much of the bank’s original character, including the banking hall. In 1958 the lower floors, occupied by the Bowery Savings Bank, were completely modernized, becoming sheer walls of limestone.
The Panic of 1907 remains as a famous cautionary tale, but nothing remains of Charles Barney’s magnificent white marble vision.
Copyright 2009The New York Times Company
Pity I wasnt there to see that NY golden age because its truely gone. Maybe in a past life, I hope.
I don't fully agree.
Sadly, a lot has been lost, but (with exceptions) vast areas of Manhattan remain unchanged and still remarkable.
Moreover, NY clearly is one of the three best cities in the world. London and Paris preserved the 19th and early 20th Century buildings better than NY, and so, they beat NY on that score. However, if skyscrapers are your thing. NY is (and always will be) No. 1. No one can ever replicate NY's Pre-WWII skyscrapers.
Last edited by londonlawyer; March 17th, 2009 at 11:39 AM.
I agree wholeheartedly LL, I meant that NY's golden age is gone though it still looks amazing in many places, namely downtown. NY the best place on earth for skyscrapers.
Compare with the current MSG (that to much of our chagrin, doesn't seem to want to go away):
From NYC-Architecture.com: "Garden II survived for 34 years until the New York Life Insurance Company which held a mortgage on the land, decided to demolish the building in 1924." Presumably to build their landmark headquarters on the site:
Some old videos of NY.
Original WTC construction