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Thread: History New York 20th century

  1. #256


    Yes. I will post more posts about the history of New York Skyscrapers, and continue this trip through the evolution of city skyline during the 1980's, but I need more time than I normally use to post it. Please. Give me patience.

  2. #257


    Take your time as needed, and keep up the good work.

  3. #258

    Default Manhattan, 1980s

    1985 SPECIAL




    Hi friends. Welcome back to this trip through the history of New York skyscrapers, and now, I talk about two skyscrapers that launch the great renaissance of Times Square: the Marriott Marquis Hotel and the Equitable Center.

    1. The Marriott Marquis Hotel. The bad neighbor
    The Marriott Marquis Hotel is a 50-story skyscraper that located on Broadway between East 45th to 46th Streets. Build by the architect John Portman between 1982 and 1985, the Marriott Marquis was a key building in the redevelopment of Times Square. But it was created a great controversy because the new building was build in the site of two historical theaters: the Hellen Hayes and the Morosco.

    The Portman Hotel and the conytroversy for the building's site
    The history of the Marriott Marquis Hotel began in early 1970s, when the reputation of Times Square was on the worst moment of its history. In 1972, preliminary plans were announces for a new 56-story, 2000 room, twin-towered hotel on the west side of Broeadway between West 45th to 46th Streets, just north of the recently completed One Astor Plaza (Kahn & Jacobs 1968-1972). The project, called by the city's authorities, even more important for the city´s future and crucial for the rainassance of Times Square was commisioned by the city's autorities to Atlanta-based architect John Portman (that be designed the famous Hyatt Hotel and Peachtree complex of Atlanta and the Renaissance Center of Detroit), to design the new hotel.

    Portman designed the new project called Times Square Hotel, and revealed in 1972. The project consist a "two slabs, each approximately fifty-six stories high, connected by several five-story-high bridges. The space between the slabs and the bridges was left open the the air in order 'to give the ladder-like structure a light, airy look'. As presented for the following year, more developed plans called for the replacement of the open space space between the towers with two soaring atria -Portman's most famous trademark- stacked one of top of the other. Here Portman was drawing on a established tradition of American hotel architecture: the inclusion of an enclosed, open area, often a 'palm court' but sometimes a much larger glassed-in-courtyard" (Stern, Robert A.M., Mellins, Thomas., Fishman, David. New York 1960. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial. New York. The Monacelli Press. 1997. Page 450).

    Model of the proposed Times Square Hotel en 1973. From Stern, Robert A.M., Mellins, Thomas., Fishman, David. New York 1960. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial. (New York. The Monacelli Press. 1997. Page 449).

    The Portman's Times Square Hotel was schedule for completion in 1977, but the project was put on hold on in 1975, victim of the bureaucratic infighting and the city's fiscal crisis. But in late 1970s the project was revived.

    In 1978, according with Robert A.M. Stern (2006), "Portman announced that he could raise $150 million privately if $15 million in federal government funds were made available as a second mortgage” (Stern, Robert A.M. Fishman David, and Tilove, Jacob. "New York 2000. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Bicentennial and the Millenium". New York, The Monaccelli Press, 2006. Pag. 642). When the project of the hotel re-launched, in late 1970s, many oppositions made serious troubles for the developers.

    For one side, financing troubles made more hard the realization of Portman’s hotel. For example, on November 12, 1979, the owners of the 26-story Piccadilly Hotel, built in 1928, in 227 West 45th Street, announced they would not sell their property, which was deemed essential to the hotel site’s assemblage but one day after, the New York Times reported that mortgage financing for the project was again proving hard to secure. (Stern, 2006. 642),
    For other side, the hotel was born in controversy because five historic theaters—the Helen Hayes, the Morosco, the Astor, the Bijou, and the Gaiety—would be demolished to clear the site.

    Resistance by the theatre and artist community against Portman’s hotel was increased after the rally of February 27, 1980, when top Broadway actors, including Anthony Perkins, José Ferrer, and Tony Randall, protested the project. (Stern, 200, 642). Protesters, including Christopher Reeve (then at the height of his Superman fame) tried to stop the destruction, even forcing a Supreme Court challenge, but it was too late. What was dubbed "The Great Theater Massacre of 1982" went forward to make way for the hotel.

    Legal Battles
    After of several months of legal battle for developers against building and theaters owners with the artistic community supported the preservationist for the salvation of the historical theaters, in March of 1981 federal officers of Reagan’s administration, and the New York City’s authorities finally approved the funding for the hotel that Portman was develop in concern with the Marriott Corporation (Stern, 2006. Pages 643-644) During the rest of the year opposition against the hotel project continues, and in the end of 1981, the legal battle turn to be a scandal, when two associates of President Reagan, Lyn Nofziger, his top political aide, and James G. Watt, Secretary of the Interior, “had stepped up to help counter the effects of opposition from groups objecting to the demolition of the Morosco and Helen Hayes theaters, which were listed on the National Register of Historic Places” (Stern, 2006, 644). The report says that, “which drew on several sworn statements in lawsuits by preservationists groups in state and federal courts, Nofziger had told officials of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which under federal law is an independent arbiter of the government’s preservation actions, to approve the theater’s demolition ‘by the close of business’ on November 20 or face a White House order putting the advisory council ‘out of business’” (Stern. 2006, Fragment). After of several months, on January 9, 1982, the Supreme Court approved the demolition. Finally, after a last attempts to save the theaters, (including a large rally on March 3, 1982, were playwright Arthur Miller read excerpts from his plays in the Morosco, while in March 8, the Eugene O´Neill’s Eight Day’s Journey into Night played in the Hellen Hayes), the New York State Court of Appeals refused the preservationist’s arguments and approved the demolition of buildings. The way for the construction for the Portman’s hotel was open.

    2. Construction
    By May of 1982, the theaters were demolished and the site were cleared with notable progression. By mid-summer of 1982 a 550-foot high minaret-like slip-formed concrete core rose from a cat’s cradle of steel framing that would carry the structure over the 1,500-seat theater at its base. By late 1984, the building’s steel skeleton was completed and involved the central concrete core. By October of 1985, the new hotel were completed with the name of “Marriott Marquis Hotel.

    Construction of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in mid-summer of 1983. Photo: Ries. From Stern, Robert A.M. Fishman David, and Tilove, Jacob. "New York 2000. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Bicentennial and the Millenium" (New York, The Monaccelli Press, 2006).

    The next week, don't miss the second part of the history of Marriott Marquis Hotel.

    Last edited by erickchristian; February 17th, 2013 at 10:05 PM.

  4. #259


    Why are you shouting?

  5. #260


    The "shout" is just a good publicity trick to grab the attention of readers and invite them to participate, to put comments and post pictures to the forum. This I do in all my posts since I created the forum.

  6. #261


    Thanks for all these erickchristian. This thread is a gift to the forum.

  7. #262


    Yes, amen to that; I come back to this thread often to feast my eyes on this seemingly endless supply of vintage photos of NY architecture. Eric is something of a hero when I comes to making a valuable contribution here on the Wired New York website.

    This post is one of my favorites; a view of St. Pauls looking from west to east, which would be the more humble rear elevation - yet still a beautiful sight to see.

  8. #263

    Default Manhattan, 1980s

    1985 SPECIAL




    The hotel was open in october 1985, and at the time when it was built, acording with the site, the Marriott Marquis contained "the world's tallest hotel atrium at 400 feet, the Manhattan largest great ballroom,
    and its first revolving restaurant, a three-story, 1,500-seat theater, a second ballroom, and 80,000 square feet of meeting, banquet and exhibition spaces" (

    Marriot Marquis Hotel (John Portman, 1985) in a view looking southwest showing One Astor Plaza. Summer of 1986. Photo from: Stern, Robert A.M. Fishman David, and Tilove, Jacob. "New York 2000. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Bicentennial and the Millenium" (New York, The Monaccelli Press, 2006).

    Eric P. Nash, author of "Manhattan Skyscrapers", says about the Marriott Marquis:

    "From street level, the deeply recessed windows behind concrete sills seem to close up like a giant Venetian blind, an appropiate image for an overscale hotel of 1900 rooms. Like the Mongols, who despised cities so much they tore them down stone by stone, the architects of the Times Square revival 'created a desert and called in peace', in words of historian Harold Lamb" (Nash, Eric. P. Manhattan Skyscrapers New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 1999. Pag. 149).

    He continues:

    "The detailling is ghastly -minimally textured concrete, rough edges. and bare bulbs stuck in gutters in keeping with the 'showbiz' environment. But the antiurbanism here is insidiously brilliant- the entrance is not from the Broadway front, but from a pedestrian-unfriendly interior private road, so that it makes more sense to enter by car than on foot." (Nash, 1999. Fragment).

    Detail of hotel's facade showing One Astor Plaza (Kahn & Jacobs, 1972) at left. Photo: New York

    Architecture as amusement park: the Atlanta's style hotel atrium

    According with Eric P. Nash (1999):

    "The lobby was designed to filter out the unsavory mix of street from Times Square: the 400-foot-high atrium, one of the tallest indoor spaces in the world, does not even begin until the eighth floor; and a glass-encassed ground floor, dominated by a segurity desk, connects with the atrium via a series of escalators. The structure, though brutal, is directly expressed: a 112-foot steel truss joints vertical, 36-foot-deep concrete-clad steel slabs" (Nash. 1999. Fragment).

    Details of the atrium. Photo: Wikipedia.

    He continues:

    "The atrium looks as if was designed on laughing gas but provides the same pleasures as an amusement park: test-tube-shaped exposed glass elevators rocket up and down the vertiginously narrow space, disappearing through holes in the ceiling and floor. The city's only revolving restaurant is located here; there is also a revolving bar on the eight floor, but it has no views worth speaking of. The series of exits from the 1600-seat Marquis Theater, which supplanted three older theaters, is so complicated that it resembles a Rube Goldberg device. The exterior street level is sprouting new electronic signs like lichenous growths. As Rem Koolhaas wrote: 'Since the Romans, the atrium had been a hole in a house or a building that injects light and air -the outside- into the center, in Portman's hands it became the opposite: a container of artificiality that allows its occupants to avoid daylight forever -a hermetic interior, sealed against the real... With attriums as their private mini-centers, buildings no longer depend on specific location. They can be anywhere'" (Nash, 1999. Fragment).

    View of the Midtown skyline from the revolving restaurant atop the Marriott Marquis Hotel in 1987. Photo from: George, Michael. "New York Today" (New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1988).

    For the next, a special for the Equitable Center of 1986, followed a general panorama of the city of that year.


  9. #264
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Actually, it's the hotel that destroyed three of the choicest theaters that ever existed in the glory years of Times Square, and perfectly exemplifies the turning inward of our narcissistic culture.

    But that's just my two cents ...

    ps: Did you know that the entire open interior, reaching upward to the top of the hotel, had to be caged in because guests were jumping to their deaths from the interior balconies? So much for rebirthing Times Square.

  10. #265


    Great thread !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. #266


    Very good photos, some of them also represents the building foundations

  12. #267


    here is a photo of Marriott marquis 1984 looking north east towards Times square With one Astor plaza (1970) Uris plaza 1971 and the steel structure of Marriott marquis now at 20 stories
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	411px-Manhatten_Midtown_From_Empire_State_Bldg_-_June_1984.jpg 
Views:	1121 
Size:	93.5 KB 
ID:	17560

  13. #268


    Quote Originally Posted by irishinnyc View Post
    why are you shouting?
    I don't know.

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