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Thread: History New York 20th century

  1. #76


    ^ Amen, brother.

    That Deco world survived unsullied until the mid-Sixties (thirty blessed, architecturally-harmonious years!).

    Chase-Manhattan and Seagram led us into a Brave New World (dubious achievement).

  2. #77

    Default Manhattan 1930s

    1931 Special: The McGraw-Hill Building or the arrival of the International Style

    Hi. We continue in 1931, and is necessary to add that in this year it happened a very important architecture phenomenon, because is in that year in which the International Style, the modern movement like, so originating in the post-World War I Europe, was consolidated in the United States, and especially, it arrived in New York, with the construction of Raymond Hood's McGraw-Hill Building.

    Although in 1931, modern movement was invaded Manhattan, with Art Deco, is really, in that year, when it is spoken fully of a modern architecture, without adornments, with designs that gave preference to the function , more than to ornamentation of the building. This rationalist idea, where “less is more” was originated in Europe immediately finalized the World War I.

    The modern movement were developed in Germany, with the Walter Gropius' Bauhaus design school. For 1922, Gropius presented , in the United States, his design of a rectangular modern building, without adornments, and with a design based on its structure, to compete for the Chicago Tribune Building's Competition.

    Meanwhile, another German architect, Ludwing Mies Van der Rohe begun his career designing buildings where the predominant material were glass. In 1922, in Berlin designed a of irregular form skyscraper, with its facade totally in glass that never was realised. In France, Le Corbusier, designed buildings of facade that showed the structure, predominantly of concrete, naked, only covered with glass, besides designing buildings of simple design, but of fantastic forms.

    Almost all these architects would not make works in the United States until late 1940s, but either for the end of the 1920s, were influencing local architects. One of them was Raymond Hood.

    As I were mentioned in a previous article (sees 1930 Special: The Daily News Building), Hood leaves the Gothic (that was the style that he was used for the Chicago Tribune Building and the American Radiator Building), for it would enter to the Art Deco and in the modern movement and the first work that realises with a totally modern design, but within the aesthetic canons of the Art Deco was the Daily News Building, finished in 1930.

    But Hood goes beyond his architectural and technical possibilities and were the publishing house McGraw-Hill commisioned him to buit its new office building, designed a skyscraper were show the influences of the Bauhaus modern style. Hood were influenced by the European International Style Modernism. The 33-story skyscraper with terra cotta facade, where the glass predominates were completed in 1931.

    Paul Goldberger says about the McGraw-Hill:

    "McGraw-Hill is shethed in a greenish turquoise terra cotta, and its setback from culminates in an ornate, jazz-modern signboard. Vincent Scully called it "proto-jukebox, "which come as close to an accurate description as anything else, althought it ignores the rather severe, industrial aspects of the body of the structrure. McGraw-Hill is far brashed and liveler tha Daily News, yet it was the only New York skyscraper selected by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Phillip Johnson for incursion in The International Style, their 1932 anthology of buildings that seemed in accord with the rigid tenets of academic European modernism" (Goldberger, Paul. The Skyscraper. New York, Alfred A. Knopf Publishing. 1981. Page. 94).

    The McGraw Hill and its environs in 1940s

    If do you have any picture or comentary about the McGraw-Hill Building, please show here.

  3. #78

    Default Manhattan 1930s

    1931-1932 Special:


    First Stage (1931-1940). Part One.

    The birt of a megaproject.

    Hello! We are back to continue this trip in the time through the history of the skyscrapers of New York. In order to close with the year 1931 and to initiate 1932, we begun the history of the great architectural and city-planning project that was realised in the heart of Manhattan between Fifth and Sixth Avenues from 48th to 51st Streets (later would extend from 47th to 52nd Streets) and that it is considered the world's first great skyscraper complex. Is the Rockefeller Center.

    History, that includes almost five decades, will be divided in two parts:

    The part one will include from 1931 to 1940, the years of the construction of the fourteen original buildings. We will talk about of the Center's site history, and the first project in this land for the new Metropolitan Opera House headquarters. Soon we will talk about of the conception and evolution of the project that would become the Rockefeller Center, and soon will speak of the construction of RKO and RCA Buildings and Radio City Music Hall until the dedication of US Rubber Building, in 1940, all of these buildings, in Art Deco style.

    The part two, that we will speak in some weeks, will be speak of the of the Rockefeller Center's 1940s-1970s extension, under the canons of the International Style Modenism. This new age began in the end of World War II, in 1945, with the start of the construction of the Esso Building, until the construction of the monolithic X, Y and Z (Exxon, McGraw-Hill and Celanesse)Buildings, between 1968 and 1974.

    The land in the early times

    Like the Empire State Building, the history of the parcel where the Rockefeller Center is stand, also it has a little history. Until the end of 18th Century, the terrain was occupied by numerous farms, until in the first years of 19th Century, the land was the site of the Elgin Botanical Garden, directed by the Dr. Hosack. A site where species of plants and flowers were cultivated, local and foreign, supporting the investigation of new vegetal species. It was a favorite place of many curious and visitors by the botanical wonders that were there.

    The Elgin Botanical Garden was sold to New York State in 1810 and "was donated to Columbia College in 1814 on condition that it erect a new campus there within twelve years. The college succeded in removing the restrictions and began to develop the property in the late 1830s" (Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page 628).

    The lands were divided in lots to built luxury houses and included from the Villa to the Sixth Avenues and 48th to 54th Streets. It was called the "Upper Estate".

    Stern continue:

    "In 1854 Columbia finally commisioned Richard Upjohn to designed new facilities on the site, and the site for St. Patrick's Cathedral, (...) was purchased in the expectation that it would overlook the college gardens. but Upjohn's designs proved too expensive for Columbia, wich instead moved two blocks east, into the former Institute for the Deaf and Dumb" (Stern. 1987. Pages 628-629).

    After the Civil War, luxurius apartments house were built in the Columbia University's parcel , the majority of them enters the 3 and 5 floors. For the early 20th Century, the area were in the heart of the rising Midtown Manhattan's new commercial district: than 200 apartments buildings were surrounded, in the the Fifth Avenue, by the St. Patrick's Cathedral, and many luxury shops and boutiques; In the Sixth Avenue, the Sixth Avenue's EL and many little shops, bookstores, taverns and dinner restaurants. For 1920s, Stern says, the land "was a seedy neighborhood sprinkled with speakeasies, and its more than 200 buildings were providing Columbia with a mere $300,000 in annual rent" (Stern. 1987. Page 629).

    Here a picture of the site in summer 1931, before of the construction of Rockefeller Center

    A new headquarters for the Metropolitan Opera House

    The first project that is tried to realise in lands property of the University of Columbia is a great cultural center for the Metropolitan Opera House, but in 1926 the Opera House indicated its intention of move it from its old Broadway and 39th Street's building, where it had settled from 1883. Originally one thought to construct in the Eighth Avenue and streets 56 and 57. In that then Joseph Urban contracted itself the architect who, with its partner, Benjamin Wistar Morris, presented many schemes, one of this,k an eclectic construction of style surrounded by 15 to 30-story office buildings and stores.

    But in january 1928 the Opera House choose the Columbia Univerity's lands, between Fifth to Sixth Avenues and 48th ton 51st Streets for built its new headquarters, the Opera House, as Donald Martin Reynolds (1984) says, "retained the fashionable architect Benjamin Wistar Mooris, whose works included the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway, the addition to the Morgan library at 29 East Thirty-sixth Street, and the American Women's Association Clubhouse, 353 West Fifty-seventh Street, to develop recommendations for the new opera house. In adition to the opera house, Wistar's plan included a landscaped plaza to enhance a cultural atmosphere and to produce revenue to support the enterprice. thos more ambitious project was influenced by the succesful Grand Central Station complex, and it was planned to involve tall commercial buildings, fashionable shops, gardens and terraces; and to allow for efficent circulation of traffic, a street, covered parking, open and underground walkways, and brigdes" (Reynolds, Donald Martin. The architecture of New York City. History and views of important structures, sites and symbols. New York. Macmillan Publishing company. 1984. Page. 250).

    The Benjamin Morris's Metropolitan Opera

    And a aerial perspective of the project, with tall 30 to 50-story skyscrapers. 1928.

    The Opera House find the help of many sponsors by give the money for its new headquartes and found the assistance of John D. Rockefeller, Jr, who give the money to finance it. He, the son of the magnanimous Standard Oil's tycoon, John D. Rockefeller, and founder of Rockefeller Institute, view on the Morris project tyhe best opportunity of development a big business on real estate enterprises and he decided to take the control.

    In August 1928, Rockefeller and Columbia University, the owner of the parcel, "had reached agreement on their epoch-making real estate deal. Rockefeller agreed to lease the entire Upper Estate for twenty-four years at an average anual rent of $3.8 million, more than twelve times what Columbia was currently collecting in rents" (Karp, Walter. The Center. A history and guide to Rockefeller Center. New York. American Heritage Publishing Company. 1982. Page 14). The new centrer was called Metropolitan Square.

    From Metropolitan Square to Radio City.

    Many changes were made on the original Morris project since Rockefeller took the control of the project. Rockefeller commisioned a associated architects, like Cass Gilbert, Harvey W. Corbett, Todd Robertson and Wallace Harrison, who changed the design of the buildings: the tallest skyscraper that whould to be buildt fot Fifth Avenue replaced with two buildings of smaller height, and the facades of the Metropolitan Opera House and other buildings modified, now, in Art Deco style. Here a picture of Metropolitan Square new rendering in the Summer 1929.

    In October 1929 L. Andrew Reinhard and Henry Hofmeister "were appointed architects of the project with Benjamin W. Morris, Harvey W, Corbett, and Raymond Hood named consultants. Morris resigned in December on the withdrawal of the opera company" (Balfour, Alan. Rockefeller Center. Architecture as theater. New York. McGraw-Hill. 1978. Page 27). When the stock market crash the Metropolitan Opera House leave the project and this fact determinated the revision of plan and modified the project. When the new project for Metropolitan plaza were showed in January 1930, the famous G-3 plan, the former Opera House were replaced for the tall 70 o more stories office building; the future RCA Building.

    In december 1929, Rockefeller find new tenants for the new G-3 plan. He talk with General Electric, and Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and its affiliates, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum. The negociations with these companies began in February 1930, a same time the G-3 project were unveiled.

    As Robert Stern (1987) says:

    "That same month, Reinhard & Hofmeister drew up Todd's new conception of the project, a design intended to lure the prospective tenant by offering him an irresistibly prominent office building. The scenographic secuence of the pedestrian promenade and public plaza, once intended the honor the lyric arts, now culminate in a fifty-story office building dedicated to the more popular arts purveyed by RCA. Department stores flanked it, private streets giving them four full exposures. Four thirty-story office buildings were located on the north and south blocks, two of them flanking the plaza, the others on on Sixth Avenue. A nine-story loft building faced St. Patrick's Cathedral, and twin nine-story buildings framed by promenade" (Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page 638).

    Stern continued:

    "As negociations proceded with the radio interests, Owen Young, the chairman of General Electric and a personal friend of Rockefeller, development the concept of an entertaiment complex embracing opera, theater, cinema, and a symphony hall, all to be broadcast worldwide by NBC. Young's idea was to bring the Metropolitan Opera back into the development. He was convinced that "the time has come when an organization that serves the country as completely and effectively as the Radio Corporation does can no longer be considered apart from opera, from sympony, and education... Due to inventions like the Victrola and the radio, the costs of opera can now be spread over wide geographical areas and the best singers and artists can be retained at salaries which single opera can no longer afford to pay". The rfinal agreement, signed on June 4, 1930, called for a two office buildings -one for RCA, another for RKO- and four theaters, for a total of 1.5 million square feet of space. The theaters would replace the department stores of G-3" (Stern. 1987. Page 639).

    The complex was to be called Radio City, because RCA, RKO and NBC stood the headquarters in the new project. Another companies was intention to give office in the new complex, one of this, was the Rockefeller's Chase National Bank. Stern says:

    "Radio City also resulted in the dicision to finally purchase the lots along Sixth Avenue that had been included in some schemes but were now essential; while the auditoriums could be accommodated on the less attractive midblock sites, the theaters would need marquesines on the avenue to atract passersby from the theater district, a blick west. The project finally include 550,000 square feet of ground, "equivalent to approximately 10 Graybar Buildings sites or 13 Chrysler Building sites." Aside from theaters and shops, the scheme include 'two hundred thousand feet of office space more than... the Empire State and the Bank of Manhattan Buildings togheter...'" (Stern. 1987. Page 639).

    In the last monts of 1930 and first months of 1931, the plan of Radio City were modified. The Associated Architects (Raymond Hood, Wallace Harrison, and others) redesigned the Radio City with a uniform Art Decon designed, influenced in the Hood's Daily News Building, and following the requirements of 1916's Zoning Law. A innovative design were include a 20-story oval building, in the site of the future embassies buildings and Promenade. The RCA Building were redesigned and the reknowed actual design, and added more floors from 50 to 70-stories.

    The final design of the now renamed Rockefeller Center were unveiled to the press on March 5, 1931.

    After many alteration of the office buildings, in October, 1931, "the British Empire Building and La Maison Francaise replaced the oval building in the design, with a return to the earlier strangement of an axial promenade flanked by low buildings ending in the plaza" (Balfour, Alan. Rockefeller Center. Architecture as theater. New York. McGraw-Hill. 1978. Page 44).

    Preliminary studies for RCA Building. Raymond Hood. 1931. One of these alternative studies for the facade show a imitation of McGraw-Hill Building style.

    Model of the RCA Building. December 1931

    The urban impact of Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan skyline. Late 1931.

    Next, the start of the construction of Rockefeller Center with the RKO Building and Radio City Music Hall. If you want to comment about Rockefeller Center or put a picture in this post, please, show here.
    Last edited by erickchristian; August 31st, 2009 at 12:00 AM. Reason: Added more information

  4. #79


    That Benjamin Morris design for the Metropolitan Opera sure is awe-inspiring.

    I had never seen it before; Erickchristian, you are performing a great service.

    Thank you.

  5. #80

    Default Manhattan 1930s

    1931-1932 Special: The Rockefeller Center (1931-1940). Part 2. Construction began: RKO Building and Radio City Music Hall

    Hi. We're continued on the history of Rockefeller Center. Now study about the construction of the first building of the complex in pictures. Now talking about the RKO BUilding and Radio City Music Hall.

    The building demolition started on spring 1931 and excavation began in July. "Revised plans were approved by Columbia on September 4, and the first concrete was poured on September 11. By October 16 construction contracts were signed for the RCA Building, the International Music Hall, and the sound motion picture theater" (Balfour, Alan. Rockefeller Center. Architecture as theater. New York. McGraw-Hill. 1978. Page 37).

    Raymond Hood inspired in the Daily News Building in the design of the Rockefeller Center office building, specially, in the RCA Building and RKO Building.

    The RKO Building and the Roxy (Center) Theather was the Center's first building was begun to built in the autum of 1931. Few weeks after, the construction activities were started on the International City Hall, now named Radio City Music Hall.

    Here a picture of Rockefeller Center's construction activity for RKO Building, Radio City Music Hall and Roxy on progress. November 1931.

    The steel framing of the RKO Building were topped out, while excavations were too in progress in the RCA Building site, on Christmas 1931. The skyscraper were bult very quickly.

    The construction works in march 1932, when the RCA Building start to rise up. Photo: Samuel Gottscho

    Old Upper Estate buildings from new RKO Building. Summer 1932

    The new RKO Building and the Radio City Music Hall, with a grear Art Deco theather with cappacity fot more of 6000 seats. Completed in late 1932, the picture show the building that look in 1940.

    The famous Radio City billboard, and it's Art Deco facade.

    Last edited by erickchristian; November 27th, 2009 at 05:14 PM. Reason: Added more information

  6. #81

    Default Manhattan 1930s


    Hi!! We're back on the history of New York skyscrapers. Now We are in 1932. The Deppresion were on this worst moment and the construction industry were affected. But, in Manhattan the last skyscrapers of building boom were under construction or were completed. While, construction works on Rockefeller Center were on quickly progress. In this year the RKO Building, the Roxy Theather and Radio City Music Hall were build, and the 70-story RCA Building and the British Empire Building and La Maison Francaise were rises up its steel frames.

    It is a general panorama of the city's skyline and its towers in 1932.

    The new Park Avenue skyscrapers looking southeast from DuMont Building. The new 48-story Waldorf-Astoria Hotel were completed on 1931. Chrysler Building were seen on background.

    The New Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (Schultze & Weaver. 1931). January 1932.

    The 72-story Cities Service Building (now AIG Building or 60 Wall Tower. Clinton & Russell). February 1932. The Bank of Manhattan building can see on the left, at background.

    The new look of Lower Manhattan's Financial District. View from Brooklyn Bridge looking southwest. February 1932.

    Sunset view of Midtown Manhattan looking southwest from Queensboro Bridge. February 1932. Photo. Samuel Gottscho.

    Aerial view of the 102-story Empire State Building looking northwest. March 1932.

    A detail of the Empire State's mooring mast.

    Lower Manhattan looking south from Empire State Building. March, 1932.

    The Sherry-Netherland Hotel looking from Fifth Avenue and 64th Street. March, 1932.

    The New York Life Building from Madison Square Park. March 1932.

    Construction progress on Rockefeller Center. March, 1932. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    Another picture of new Lower Manhattan skyline. April 1932.

    The Majestic Apartments (Emery Roth, 1931). April 1932

    Sunset view of Midtown Manhattan and Queensboro Bridge. April 1932. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    The new General Electric Building (first named RCA Building until the construction of Rockefeller Center), and St. Bartholomew Church. April 1932.

    Midtown Manhattan's Grand Central District skyscrapers looking northwest from First Avenue and 34th Street. April 1932.

    Fifth Avenue and Grand Army Plaza, looking south. May 1932.

    Midtown Manhattan looking south from Barbizon Hotel, on Lexington Avenue. May 1932. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    The City Bank and Farmers Trust Building (Now Citibank). June 1932.

    The Rockefeller Center under construction. June 1932.

    Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge. June 1932.

    St. Bartholomew Church and General Electric Building. June 1932.

    Midtown Manhattan looking northeast from Empire State Building. July 1932. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    Rockefeller Center under construction from old building showing a Center's model. July 1932.

    The Empire State Building at night looking southeast from Continental building. July 1932. Photo: Samule Gottscho.

    Times Square at night looking northwest from Continental Building. July 1932. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    St. Patrick's Cathedral looking east from Rockefeller Center's RKO Building under construction. August 1932.

    The 444 Madison Avenue Building(Later Newsweek Building. Now The New Yorker Magazine Building). September 1932.

    If you do have a comment or want to pic a picture on this post, about Manhattan in 1932, please show here.Your colaboration are very important, and make this post possible. .
    Last edited by erickchristian; November 27th, 2009 at 05:20 PM. Reason: I added more information

  7. #82

    Default Manhattan 1930s

    1932-1933 Special. The Rockefeller Center (1931-1940). Part 3. The RCA Building and the Embassy Buildings .

    Hello! We're here again on this trip on the history of New York's slyscraper. Now we're on 1933, and before beginning the year, we continued with the third part of the special one of the Rockefeller Center. Now we will see the conception and construcciòn of the RCA Building, and the British Empire, and the Maison Française buildings.

    The 70-story, 850 feet (259 meters) RCA Building is the Center's tallest building and one of New York's tallest skyscrapers. It was build by Raymond Hood and Wallace K. Harrison. Hood were inspired on his Daily News Building for the RCA Design, buy that say Donald Martin Reynolds, also were influenced on the majestic of the Empire State Building.

    The RCA Building were included on the 1930-1932 Rockefeller Center's first phase included "the British Empire Building, La Maison Fraçaise, the plaza and Radio City-the later comprised the RCA and RKO Buildings, the International Music Hall, and the Center Theatre" (Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page 646).

    During the Center's preliminary designs, in 1931, Hood were experimented many facades proposalas for RCA Building.

    Finally, Hood and Harrison were inspired on the News Building for the disgn of the facades, and in autum 1931, the final designed for the RCA Building were unveiled.

    A plastic model of the RCA Building. December 1931.

    The RCA Building final design consist in two separate entities:

    "A seventy-story slab sat on the eastern half of the lot, flanked by a two-story plinth of shops that stapped up gradually to a nine-story mass behind the office building, where the windowless NBC studios filled on the deep midblock loft spaces. The building stepped up again on the western end on the site, on Sixth Avenue, to form the sixteen-story RCA Building West. At ground level, the three buildings were linked by a generous double-height public lobby that filled the void between the cores of the RCA tower and the NBC studios, and outer layer of shops that enjoyed acces from the lobby and the streets" (Stern. 1987. Page 650).

    Excavation for the RCA Building begun on autum 1931, and the first steel gilders were on the site on early 1932.

    Excavation for the RCA Building. Late 1931.

    The RCA Building under construction on March 1932. First stories was build. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    Rockefeller Center construction progress. June 1932.

    The RCA Building's construction progress on June, 1932.

    Construction progress for the RCA Building and Lower Plaza as seen from 444 Madison Avenue Building on September, 1932. Here show the Center Theatre, at left and the RKO Building, at right, were completed. next the RKO BUilding, Radio City Music Hall were nearby completion. Photo courtesy of Maradona-82

    Like the Empire State Building, the pictures of the workers during the construction of RCA Building giving romanticism of the construction scene. There is a pictures of the RCA Building's construction workers on action. Autum 1932.

    On the gilder. Autum 1932

    Workers on the British Empire Building's steelframe when it was topped out. Autum 1932.

    The 70-story RCA Building topped out on December 1932. It was appeare here in Early 1933, nearby completion with the Maison Française Building under construction on foreground.

    From the Plaza. Early 1933

    The RCA Building on April, 1933

    Another picture of RCA Building from Du-Pont Building. April 1933. Photo courtesy of Maradona-82

    The RCA Building between the Britsh Empire Building and La Maison Française Building. July 1933

    The first phase of Rockefeller Center were completed: Radio City and Embassy buildings. View of Midtown Manhattan looking south showing the urban impact of the Center's finished buildings on the Midtown skyline. July 1933

    Aerial view of Rockefeller Center looking south. July 1933.

    The RCA Building were completed. August 1933.

    The RCA Building, limestone cladding, as Donald Martin Reynolds says, " (...) is textured in a shot-saw pattern, that is a weft of thin and irregular linear indentations across the surface of the stone. The architects achieved additional variety in the stone-work by lying up the individual limestone blocks irregularity so, that ocassionally, the strations of the shot-saw pattrern meet at right angles. A panel of darkner Deer Island granite runs arround the building from sidewalk up about four feet and makes a visually pleasing transition from the pavement to the limestone slab" (Reynolds, Donald Martin. The Architecture of New York City. New York. Macmillan Publishing Company. 1984. Page 257).

    Reynolds continue:

    The west face of the tower rises sheer from the NBC Studios, which needed broad open spaces incompatible with a forest of closely spaced vertical supports that tall buildings require. therefore, the low-rise NBC Studios, which could also do without natural light while the tall buildings could not, were logically placed between the tall east tower and RCA West" (Reynolds. 1984. Page 257).

    He continue:

    "The studios were designed to accommodate the radio needs of the 1930s and to anticipate the radio and television needs of the future. In addition to four of the most modern broadcast studios serviced by a central control room, there were two- and three-story spaces for stage plays, large studio audiences, and exhibitions. these were equipped with ramps, stairs, balconies, and elevators. The studios are still use today (1984), using updated equipment" (Reynolds. 1984. Page 257).

    The great mass of RCA Building rises over the center of Midtown Manhattan. Aerial view of the skyscraper showin the Lower Plaza under construction and the site for International Building. August 1933.

    The urban impact of the mass of RCA Building on Manhattan landscaper were giant. The Rockefeller Center looking west from 444 Madison Avenue Building. Sepetmber 1933

    In the autum of 1933, the Lower Plaza were completed. The Paul Manship's sculpture "Prometeo" were on its site on the Plaza's fountain in 1934.

    Lenin on the heart of capitalism: The Diego Rivera's mural incident.

    Is very knowled in New York City the participation of the mexican muralist Diego Rivera on the history of Rockefeller Center, because hewas a principal protagonist of a peculiar incident, cause for his political ideology.

    Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in the RCA Building's lobby. Winter 1933.

    In 1932, while RCA Building was under construction, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. contracted the services of the Mexican painter, Diego Rivera,the Mexico's greates mural paintes who since early 1920's painted many murals in his country after the end of 1910's Mexican Revolution, many of this on Mexico City's goverment offices buildings.

    Rivera painted the mural “Man on the Crossroad”, where it evoked the profits of the human progress through the industry and science, in the main lobby of the new skyscraper, always accompanied by his wife, the painter Frida Kahlo. When the mural was almost completed, on early 1933, Rivera caused controversy on the New York's society cause to a simple detail: Lenin in the heart of Capitalism the International.

    Diego Rivera was a full-active communist and he was one of the precursors of the Mexico's socialist movement. He participated in demostrations fo the fights of the working class and was admiring of Lenin and Trotsky. In 1937 he and Kahlo, gave the welcome, to Trotsky when the Russian revolutionist was arrive in Mexico to escape for the persecution that he was object by the dictator Jose Stalin.

    In the mural that realised for RCA Building, Rivera painted Lenin representing the fight for the dignification of the working-class, which brought about the anger of John D. Rockefeller Jr, who fired Rivera and ordered to mural were removed. Finally Rivera was replaced by the Spanish painter Jose Maria Sert who painted a mural evoking to the progress, putting to Abraham Lincoln and the same building RCA as fundamental elements of the work.

    Robert Stern says about Rivera's incident:

    "Nelson Rockefeller wrote to Rivera, pointing out that the portrait of Lenin whould offend 'a great many people'. Rivera refused to deleite the portrait, but suggested that he could replace the nightclub scene with a portrait of Lincoln surrounded by abolitionist. His letter went unanswered. Four or five days later, Rivera was ordered down of his scaffold. According to Geoffrey Helman in the New Yorker, Rivera 'was inclined to be playfull rather than Robertson of Todd, Robertson & Todd, flanked by a squad of uniformed guards, advanced with a check for fourteen thousand dollars and the information that is as much as the refuse to deleite the figure of Lenin, his services would no longer to be required. Rivera's first observations was: 'How do you know it's Lenin? It doesn't say so, does it?'' Rivera was escorted from the building as his mural was covered with canvas. Outside, munted by regular protest to preserve Rivera's mural. Six months later, never shown to the public or press, the mural was smashed to dust; it was eventually replace by a rather awful sepia-toned painting by Josè Maria Sert. Devoted to Man on Conquest, the painting spilled over the walls and ceilling of the building's east lobby to depict the improvement of laboring conditions from the ancient world, where human will combined with slavery to achieve progress, to the present, where science and intelligence were struggling to suppress war and conserve human life. In the background gleaming in the sun, Sert painted Rockefeller Center" (Stern. 1987. Page. 652).

    Rivera, furious, returned to Mexico City, where in 1935 painted the RCA Building mural Man on the Crossroad, in the Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts's lobby, preserved Leninoriginal portrait, but adding, in revenge, a protrait of John D. Rockefeller, Jr playing cards, symbolizing the vice and the cruelty of Capitalism system.

    The Rockefeller Center from 6th Avenue "EL". OCtober 1933.

    Next, a general view of 1933 panorama of Manhattan skyline. If you have a commentary or you like to added a picture for its posts, please, show here.
    Last edited by erickchristian; November 27th, 2009 at 05:24 PM. Reason: I added more information

  8. #83

    Default Manhattan 1930s


    Hello! We're back in this trip through the history of the skyscrapers of New York. Now we are in 1933.

    The 1920's-1930's Building Boom is over. Rockefeller Center on progress.

    1933 was the worse year of the Depression and the construction industry were very affected by the low office demand. In New York, the construction of buildings were almost paralyzed, because the demand of offices is handicapped and many owners and developters weren't had money for new skyscrapers. Two years after open its doors, the Empire State Building almost was empty, and only 25% of their offices had been rented. Only a great project of construction was inprogress and that was the Rockefeller Center. 7 buildings had been completed in 1933. This is the RCA Building and RCA Building West, RKO Building, Radio City Music Hall, The Center Theather and the British Empire Building and La Maison Française. The construction of the Plaza were on progress and the works for the construction of International Building were begun.

    Yet, I show a general panorama of the evolution of Manhattan skyline and it's skyscrapers on 1933.

    The luxurious Fifth Avenue's Grand Army Plaza Hotel skyscrapers looking from the Central Park's Pond. January 1933. Showing the Pierre, Sherry Netherland and Savoy-Plaza Hotels and Squibb Building. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    The 42nd Street's skyscrapers from Tudor City showing the Chrysler Building. March 1933. Photo: Samuel Gottscho

    The RCA Building nearby completed. March 1933

    The RCA Building and the excavations for the Plaza. March 1933

    Midtown Manhattan looking northeast from Empire State Building. March 1933. Photo: Samuel Gottscho

    Night view of 42nd Street and Chrysler Building from Tudor City. March 1933. Photo: Samuel Gottscho

    Night view of Fifth Avenue skyscrapers from Central Park. March 1933. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    Demolition works of the buildings in the International Building site on Rockefeller Center looking from Radio City Music Hall roof. March 1933

    The RCA Building. April 1933. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    Aerial view of Lower Manhattan looking southwest from East River showing Brooklyn Bridge. May 1933.

    Fifth Avenue skyscrapers from Central Park's Pond. May 1933. Photo: Samuel Gottscho

    Night view of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge. May 1933

    The 1879 St. Patricks Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, surrounding of skyscrapers. View from International Building site. May 1933

    Downtown Skyport. A little airport on the East River for Wall Street's executuve men. Lower Manhattan's skyscrapers showing on the background. June 1933

    Columbus Circle. June 1933

    Lower Manhattan skyline looking north from Governors Island's fort. June 1933.

    Traffic on Herald Square. June 1933.

    The McGraw-Hill Building. June 1933

    The Daily News Building. June 1933

    The Empire State Building from Madison Square Park. June 1933

    St. Patricks Cathedral. June 1933

    Columbus Circle and Central Park South looking east. July 1933

    Aerial view of Manhattan Island looking north showing it's new look. July 1933 (Compare with the 1927 National Geographic's picture that I showed in the page 4 of this post). Photo: Fairchild Aerial Surveys.

    Lower Manhattan looking southwest from East River. July 1933. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    Midtown Manhattan's new look looking southwest from Queensboro Bridge. July 1933.

    Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan looking south showing Rockefeller Center's urban impact. July 1933.

    Aerial view of Rockefeller Center looking south. July 1933.

    Midtown Manhattan looking north from Empire State Building showing new RKO and RCA Buildings. July 1933 (Compare with a 1931 picture of Midtown Manhattan looking north from Empire State, that I show on Page 5). Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    The City Investing Building (Now AIG Building) from Downtown Skyport. July 1933. Photo. Samuel Gottscho

    The RCA Building and embassy buildings. July 1933

    The RCA Building on August 1933

    Aerial view of Rockefeller Center looking south. August, 1933.

    The Rockefeller Center looking west from 444 Madison Avenue Building. September 1933

    Fifth Avenue looking south from 63rd Street. October 1933

    The Rockefeller Center from 6th Avenue's 'EL'. October 1933. Rockefeller Center was a powerfull influence in the demolition of 6th Avenue EL in 1939 and the post World War II 6th Avenue's urban renewal.

    In the autum of 1933 the Rockefeller Center's Lower Plaza were completed.

    Yet, in the Christmas of 1933, the excavation works for International Building were on progress. Under the snow.

    Next week, a general view of 1934. If do you want to post any picture or have some commentary, please. Show Here!!!!!
    Last edited by erickchristian; November 27th, 2009 at 05:26 PM.

  9. #84
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Fantastic stuff. The Els are not missed. But the re-institution of street trolleys is an attractive idea.

  10. #85


    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Fantastic stuff. The Els are not missed. But the re-institution of street trolleys is an attractive idea.

    Sure. It would solved the traffic problems in some zones of Manhattan. In Times Square, por example, whold be a great idea to be recovery the old trolleys like a tourist attractive.

  11. #86

    Default Manhattan 1930s


    Hi!! We're back again on this trip around the history of New York's Skyscrapers trought the 20th Century. Now we're in 1934, and construction works on the Rockefeller Center were on progress with the construction of 41-story International Building.

    But, just before of review on the next chappel of the history of Rockefeller Center, now we review a general view of Manhattan Skyline on 1934.

    A first pict was taken from RCA Building. Night view of Midtown Manhattan looking southeast from RCA Building. March 1934. Photo: Samuel Gottscho. The original picture I was scanned in two parts because my scanner is a fold size. Part 1 of 2. Chrysler Building, Chanin Building and Grand Central Area

    Part 2 of 2. Fifth Avenue, 500 Fifth Avenue Building and Empire State Building. Photo. Samuel Gottscho.

    The complete picture scanned from another book, but a less resolution.

    An typical American house for a exposition on Park Avenue. Behind, the Lefcourt Colonial and Lincoln Buildings. April 1934.

    Art Deco jewel. The 48-story Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, from Du Mont Building. June 1934.

    Daily News' airplane flying over Midtown Manhattan. c. June 1934. Photo: The Daily News. Picture from Daily News's book: New York Exposed. Photographs from the Daily News.

    Lower Manhattan's Financial District skyscrapers looking from Brooklyn Bridge. June 1934.

    The Bryant Park and the skyscrapers surrounding it. July, 1934.

    Chrysler, News, Chanin and Lincoln Buildings from 500 Fifth Avenue Tower. July 1934.

    Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge. August 1934. Picture. Samuel Gottscho.

    Passanger shipo leaving Lower Manhattan. November 1934.

    Next week the Part 4 of the Rockefeller Center's Special, dedicated to International Building. If you have some commentary about this blog show here.
    Last edited by erickchristian; September 11th, 2009 at 07:33 PM.

  12. #87




    World Trade Center



    I like to remember the WTC Twin Towers when it dominated Manhattan Island, not when it was destroyed.

    I have a little memorial that I dedicate for these beautiful skyscrapers and the people and firefighters who died it.

    World Trade Center.


    will never forgett it.

  13. #88

  14. #89

    Default Manhattan 1930s

    1934-1935 Special. The Rockefeller Center. Part 4. The Lower Plaza and International Building.

    Hi!!! We're back on this trip around the history of the World's most famous skyline. Now, in this week, we are continue to talk about the history of the Rockefeller Center with this Part 4, were we will talking about the Lower Plaza, with its Paul Manship's master piece, Prometeus, and the 41-story International Building.

    The Lower Plaza

    The Lower Plaza is the center of the full activity on the Rockefeller Center and New York City. During the summer, New Yorkers enjoy cool beverages under the umbrellas on the sunken garden's restaurant, and skating in its ice skate rink on the winter, under the golden Center's guardian: Paul Manship's sculpture, Prometheus, who give the stolen fire to mankind.

    The Lower Plaza. Late 1933.

    Robert A. Stern (1987) says:

    "Between the British Empire Building and La Maison Française were the Channel Gardens, a series of small pools and paintings decorated with a graceful bronze tritons and nereids sculpted by Renè Chambellan. The gardens sloped gently, inexorably leading shoppers down a half-level to a promenade overlooking the sunken plaza. A grand flight of stairs originally spilled into the plaza. Along its western wall, beneath the towering RCA Building, Paul Manship's gaudily gilded statue, Prometheus, was flanked by entrances to an underground shopping concourse that extended all the way to Sixth Avenue, where the El was scheduled to be replaced by a new subway line" (Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page 650).

    The Lower Plaza. 1940's

    In the center of the plaza, under the west wall toward RCA Building, lies, the Paul Manship, golden statue Prometheus, who give the stolen fire to mankind.

    Donald Martin Reynolds (1984) says about the sculpture:

    "An enormous fountain at the baisin of the lower plaza against the west wall is surmounted by a bronze-gilded flying figure of Prometheus, whose mission is described in a quotation from Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound on the Balmoral granite wall behind Prometheus. Eighteen feet high, weighing eight tons, the figure by sculptor Paul Manship was unveiled in 1934. Surrounded by a ring bearing the signs of the Zodiac, representing the Cosmos, Prometheus delivers the stolen fire to mankind. the earth below is symbolized by the gigantic convex base that supports the sculpture. Prometheus was originally flanked by two smaller figures, a male and a female, symbolizing the people of the earth, but these have benn pressed into service on the roof garden of the Palazzo d'Italia" (Reynolds, Donald Martin. The architecture of New York City. History and views of important structures, sites and symbols. New York. Macmillan Publishing company. 1984. Page. 259).

    The Prometheus mith

    Jornalist and magazine editor, Joseph Lederer (1975), says about Prometheus:

    "Daring to disobey Zeus, the father of gods, who withheld fire from mortals -for it would give too much power to mankind- Prometheus stole fire from heaven and brought it to earth in a hollow tube (seen here in the figure's right hand). As punishment, Prometheus was chained to a pillar. An eagle, dispatched by Zeus, consume his liver every day; each night it was restored again. What was to have been perpetual torture continued until Heracles (Hercules) ultimately killed the eagle" (Lederer, Joseph. Bondarin, Arley. All Around the Town. A Walking Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in New York City. New York. Charles Scribner's Sons. 1975. Pages 96-97).

    The International Building

    The 41-story International Building -that construction started on late 1933 and completed in May, 1935- was the Center's second tallest skyscraper, until the construction of Time-Life Building in the late 50's. It's designed is less ornamental than the RCA Building and other buildings, but the two seven-story Fifth Avenue's blocks were similar, in design, like the British Empire and La Maison Françoise buildings. The reasson: the designed were considered by the architects to give a view of St. Patricks Cathedral, opposite of building, from other building and the plaza.

    Aerial view of Rockefeller Center with the most recenter addition: 41-story International Building, near Fifth Avenue between 50th to 51st Streets. August, 1935.

    Robert A. Stern. says about the International Building:

    "In 1934 the real estate community was starled when construction began on the on the thirty-eight-story International Building one block north of the British and French buildings. 'one of few places in the city where the hammering of riveters may be heard.' (Only one other tall building was in construction at the time, Cass Gilbert's United States Courthouse on Foley Square.) When completed in May 1935 the International Building was greeted somewhat wearily by the Architectural Forum as 'the addition of 827,149 square feet of office space to the fourteen-odd million still available on Manhattan Island.' The building completed the Center's Fifth Avenue frontage, taking the critical site opposite St. Patrick's Cathedral" (Stern. 1987. Page 665)

    In design, the International Building were influence, like the RCA in the setback design of the Raymond Hood's Daily News Building, but the International were diferent than RCA. Between 1931 and 1933, the Associated Architects (Raymond Hood, Wallace K. Harrison, and others) were modified the schemes of the Center. Originally the International Building were disegned like a massive weddingf-cake skyscraper. Latter it's design were modified and in 1932-33 it was appear like a big version of RKO Building.

    Original model of Radio City with proposal RCA and International Buildings. March 1931.

    Proposed RCA and International Buildings. Late 1931

    Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan with a phomontage of proposal Rockefeller Center: Early 1932.

    Stern says:

    "An early scheme for the site had called for a department store surmonted by a slendered, forty-five-story tower; later plans showed nine-story wings flanking a much shorter tower. The final design, with its courtyard, duplicated the four-story pavillions of the British and French buildings, thus echoing the relationships of the Channel Gardens to the RCA Building, keeping a uniform rhythm of four low masses along the avenue, and providing a forecourt to St. Patricks Cathedral across the street. The change was Hood's idea, his last contribution to Rockefeller Center before illness forced him to withdraw from the project" (Stern. Page 565).

    Finally, in 1933, the International Building's design were used the massive monolith form, that mean the influence of International Style Modernism on the Center designed, were applied on the future buildings that would to be to built. The International Building was the Raymond Hood's last contribution for Rockefeller Center, because he died of pancreas' cancer in 1934.

    The RCA and International Buildings. May 1935

    Stern (1987) continue:

    "Compared with the RCA Building, the tower of the International Building was only modestly tall and boasted 'but small quantities of the Art which kicked up such a ruckus during the earlier stages of the development.' It was also more explicitly Modernist. Its revealless facades and detail-free columns and piers were complemented by the severe machine-like precision of the interior details. The four-story-high, marble-lined, cooper-ceilingeg lobby was dominated by a pair of the 'shiniest, swankiest escalators in the city', a far cry from the grandiose murals of the RCA Building or the elaborate staircases of the Music Hall and Center Theatre. The escalators led to a mezzanine level that was intended for exhibitions but seems never to have functioned as such; they were ironic symbols of an efficient Machine Age. The columns that flanked them were more subtle images of machine perfection, echoing the shape of the steel l-beams inside (which of course required a fireproof cladding). The flanges were sheathed in dark green marble, the webs in white marble; the contrast helped avoid any sense of tradition gravitas" (Stern. 1987. Pages 665-666).

    The St. Patrick's Cathedral and International Building. 1940's

    The International Building and RCA Buildings from Plaza Hotel. 1936.

    The Rockefeller Center came to Modernism.

    "The completion of the International Building marked a new phase in Rockefeller Center's development. The center renewed its contract with the Associated Architects, but Wallace K. Harrison now separate from Corbett & MacMurray, its former partners, and joined with the engineer J. Andrè Fouilhoux. With Hood's death, Harrison came to have an increasingly dominant role in the center's design, in part because of his friendship with Nelson Rockefeller. Harrison gradually pushed the subsequently erected buildings toward Modernism; while he was restrained by the need to retain the vertical pier and repressed spandrel system of the RCA Building's facades, these later buildings are caracterized by a geometrical clarity and a thinness of detailing that accentuate their volume rather than mass" (Stern. 1987. Page 666). The International Building were a first building in the Center that were influenced with the functionalism of Modern movement.

    Atlas in the International Building.

    In the middle of International Building's wings, on Fifth Avenue, lies the Lee Lawrie's sculpture Atlas, who support the world with his shoulders, that unveiled in this site in 1936. This scupture, with the Paul Manship's Prometheo, that lies on the Lower Plaza's fountain, symbolized the most powerful expresion of Art Deco's sculpture and link the Greek mithology's goods with the power of the Machine Age, symbolized with the Rockefeller Center's skyscrapers.

    Lederer (1975) says about the Atlas

    "Like his brother, Prometheus, Atlas incurred the wrath of Zeus. For invading the heavens while aiding the Titans (the children of Heaven and Earth) in their struggle against the Olympian gods, Atlas was condemned to carry the heavens or the pillars or wich they rested. Such was a punishment according to Greek mithology. In sculpture, however, Atlas is traditionally represented bearing the earth on his hands and shoulders" (Lederer. 1975. Page 98).

    He continue:

    "The colossal bronze statue of Atlas -supporting an armillary globe with the signs of zodiac- is the work of Lee Lawrie (1877-1963), who was brought from Germany to the United States as an infant" (Lederer. 1975. page 98). He added: "As for this Atlas of the mid 1930s, whatever one may think of it as art, there is no denying its effectiveness in relating architecturally to the objects and space around it: one example -the counterpoise of the great globe to the rose window of St. Patrick's Cathedral directly across Fifth Avenue (Lederer. 1975. Page 98. Extract).

    RCA Building Observation Roof.

    Since the RCA Building was open, in 1933, its 70 floor Observation Roof is a second in importance, behind the Empire State Building's Observation roofs, but is most memmorable because give a perfect angle to vews many of the most important skyscrapers of Manhattan, included the Empire State.

    In a 65 floor of RCA Building, were the place of the Rainbow Room, a luxury restaurant a dance hall that were very famous in all the world. Decorated, with Art Deco's glass panels from floor to ceiling, the Rainbow Room were very memmorable as romantic scene, specially on the night, when the lights of Midtown's skyscrapers were look glitter, like stardust. This exclusive restaurant, above the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan were operated until it was closed in early 2000s. Now is a exhibition room of the new "Top of the Rock" new building's Observation Roof.

    Here is a many of the first views from the top of RCA Building.

    Midtown Manhattan looking southwest: Chrysler, Graybar, Chanin, Lincoln, 500 Fifth Avenue and Empire State Buildings.

    Midtown and Upper Manhattan, looking north: The Plaza Hotel, the Barbizon and St. Moritz Hotel and Essex House, fews on the 59th Street. Pierre, Sherry Netherland and Savoy Plaza Hotels and Squibb and Fuller Buildings. Central Park dominating the scene.

    Midtown Manhattan looking southwest. Times Tower, Paramount and McGraw-Hill Buildings. Garment District and Times Square.

    Night view of Midtown Manhattan looking south.

    Next week, a general view of the evolution of New York's skyscrapers in 1935. If you have some commentary or you give a some picture about the Rockefeller Center, please, can you show it in this blog.

    Your oppinion and contribution are many important to support this blog.

    Thank You!!!
    Last edited by erickchristian; September 18th, 2009 at 02:38 PM. Reason: Added more information

  15. #90

    Default Manhattan 1930s


    Hi!! We're back on this countdown throught the history of New York Skyscrapers. The Skyscraper Capital of the World. Now we're in 1935. When the 41-story Rockefeller Center's Internbational Building were complet, Manhattan were complete the skyline that dominate in the next 20 or 25 years.

    Now, we're look a general review of New York's skyline in 1935, on this photographic trip.

    The Grand Central Termninal, now surrounding by tall building. 1935

    New addition for the Civic Center in 1935 was the 35-story Cass Gilbert's last skyscraper: the United States Courthouse Building. Here under construction on April, 1935. Photo Ewing Galloway.

    The Rockefeller Centre looking west from 444 Madison Avenue Building, showing the 70-story RCA Building and the new 41-story International Building. May 1935

    Another skyscraper for the Financial District: 99 John Street Building (Shreve, Lamb & Harmon). June 1935.

    Lower Manhattan's Financial District skyscrapers from St. George Hotel, on Brooklyn. June 1935. Photo: Samuel Gottscho.

    The Empire State Building. June 1935

    Midtown Manhattan looking southeast from the RCA Building, showing Chrysler, Chanin, Lincolnj, 500 Fifth Avenue and Empire State Buildings. July 1935.

    Midtown Manhattan looking north from RCA Building, showing Central Park and 59th Street's skyscraper hotels. July 1935.

    Midtown Manhattan looking north from Empire State Building. July 1935. Here show the Rockefeller Center with its new 41-story International Building. Photo: Foto Seal. (Compare with the 1933 Gottscho's picture showed few pic above. See 1933).

    Midtown Manhattan looking Northeast from Empire State Building. July 1935. Photo: Foto Seal.

    Fifth Avenue skyscraper hotel from Central Park. July 1935.

    The Rockefeller Center from the Fifth Avenue. July 1935

    Aerial view of the Rockefeller Center looking north, showing RCA and International Buildings. August 1935.

    The Daily News Building from the Chanin Building. November 1935. Photo: Berenice Abbott.

    Next. A general review of 1936.

    Your opinion are very important. Please, if you have some commentary or you contruibuite to enriched this forum with a some picture, please:

    ¡Show here, in this forum!!!

    Thank You
    Last edited by erickchristian; September 20th, 2009 at 06:11 PM.

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