Haunted

The New York Cancer Hospital founded in 1884, was designed by architect Charles Coolidge Haight to resemble a French chateau. When I first saw it, unaware of its function or background, I thought of an academic institution or a public administration building – certainly not a hospital!

But a hospital it was and the very first one to treat cancer in the United States, at that. Although treatment is rather a euphemism since there was no cure for cancer at the time. In reality, patients came here to ease the pain, seeking comfort in morphine and champagne. Reportedly the hospital spent more on alcoholic beverages than medical supplies.

Because of the high mortality rate among patients, its reputation was gradually tarnished to the point that it became known as ”the Bastille”, a place to be feared and avoided. Along came financial troubles, followed by a change of name (under which it thrived) and a relocation to the East Side in 1995.

With the cancer hospital relocated, the ”Bastille” became a nursing home, mistreated and abused its elderly patients, got involved in fraud cases, and was finally closed down in a state of neglect and disrepair, in 1974. That’s probably when the ghosts took over; for it goes without saying that the ”Bastille” a.k.a the ”Castle” is reputedly haunted. With so much suffering and darkness, how could it not be?

Unbelievably, it survived demolition. After decades of neglect it was redeveloped in the noughties and, by 2005, turned into – take a guess – luxury condominiums. In case you’re curious, take a look inside one of the apartments here.

I wonder what the ghosts have to say about this.

455 Central Park West

Octobrrrrr 16th, 2016

Squeezed

~ tightly. Riding the New York City subway during rush hour feels like…

Back on the surface, this bulbous structure attracted much criticism when it was erected in 1902. Built by Philip Braender, a German-born developer-cum-automobile tyre manufacturer, and designed by architect Frederick C. Browne in a mix style with French Renaissance, Spanish and Baroque influences, the Braender should have really stood out. Instead, it was criticised for being one of the same, similar to a dozen other buildings in the area.

”One of these things makes you yawn. A mile of them gets on your nerves”, wrote the critic Montgomery Shuyler in The Architectural Record, in January 1902.

The difference a century and a major renovation makes! Who’s yawning now Mr. Shuyler?

There is an interesting article from 2006, by Christopher Gray in The New York Times about the Braender and one of its famous residents, Mrs. Winifred Sackville Stoner, which you can read here.

418, Central Park West

October 16th, 2016

279 Central Park West

The one on the right. Designed by Costas Kondylis, one of the most prolific architects in New York. Over the years, Mr Kondylis has helped shape the cityscape by designing numerous well-known buildings. He has worked closely (moral sensitivity alert!) with the Trump Organization – Trump World Tower in the UN Plaza is his design (end alert). He became known for his preference in no-frill ”boring” structures earning the trust of the city’s developers for getting the job done i.e. delivering on time and within budget.

There is nothing boring about 279 CPW. Looking at the tiered upper floors with penthouse apartments and large wrap terraces, I wouldn’t mind calling one of them home. 

W88th St.

Central Park West

October 16th, 2016

Of Music and Glorious Kings

October had arrived cool bringing a hint of autumn, fiery colours, pumpkins – and Sigur Ros to Brooklyn. Tickets booked many months in advance, long before the flight tickets that would bring us to New York. This performance was added ”due to popular demand”, after their first night at Radio City was sold out in a matter of minutes. My initial frustration in missing a performance at the legendary venue quickly evaporated, replaced by awe the moment I stepped in the exquisite, historic landmark that is the Kings Theatre.

Unused since 1977, damaged by time and pilferage, painstakingly restored from scratch to its former glory, its interior inspired by the French Renaissance Revival style of the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Opera House, with brand new state-of-the-are staging facilities Kings Theatre is a prime example of what determination, good planning, respect to the original architecture and an investment of $95 million can do to the benefit of the community.

And I have Sigur Ros to thank for my initiation into the world of New York’s historic theatres, in such grand style.

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Takk Sigur Ros, see you again soon!

Kings Theatre
1027 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn

More reading here and here.

October 6th, 2016

Sears Roebuck & Co.

With rows of red brick family houses and small apartment buildings, modest and slightly rundown, this part of Beverly Road is not particularly pretty.

But, then, one comes across this marvelous Artdeco tower on the edge of a seemingly triangular structure. Later, I found out that it is a department store, opened in 1932 with Eleanor Roosevelt being the guest of honour, keynote speaker and first customer in what was to be Ms. Roosevelt’s last public appearance before her husband became President.

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Beverly Road, Flatbush, Brooklyn

More reading about Sears here.

October 6th, 2016

Overlooking Columbus

The Time Warner Center overlooking Columbus overlooking the traffic circling around Central Park. Headquarters of Time Warner and the studios of CNN. A world of its own with luxury condos, a five-star hotel, a concert hall, a shopping mall, a fitness center, I don’t know how many restaurants and a Whole Foods supermarket.

Some residents don’t ever have to leave the premises, I would imagine.

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Columbus Circle in Blue

October 4th, 2016

Another end, another new beginning

Until then, a few snapshots from the legendary, ultra chic Waldorf Astoria that closed on 28th February for renovation. Its new owners, a Chinese insurance company, intend to convert most of its rooms to luxury condominiums. While the exterior is entirely landmarked, this is not the case with some interior parts. Hopefully, all public spaces and their exquisite ArtDeco elements including the hotel’s extensive archive of photographs, menus and other historical paraphernalia will be preserved.

Waldorf Astoria
Park Avenue

June 5th, 2014