I have to explain just a little how I sort out photos for Forgotten New York. I use two cameras, one being a Panasonic Lumix. I bought a used one recently; the model is no longer manufactured but I was comfortable with its comparatively limited capabilities compared to other cameras on the market, and its 18x zoom, the feature I use most often. It has just one lens which is part of the unit. I use a card reader to get its photos into my desktop machine at Forgotten NY HQ. At this time, I don’t want more challenging models, since I consider myself a writer who takes pictures, not vice versa.
The other camera I use is in my IPhone. I used an IPhone 6 from 2015-2020 and then an IPhone 7 from May of this year onward. If I see something interesting “in the field” that I think Forgotten Fans may like, I just post it to Facebook or Instagram from the IPhone immediately. I have always found the zoom features in my IPhones vastly inferior to those of the Panasonic. From my IPhone, I import photos to my desktop with a USB cable.
I arrange my photos in “albums” on my IPhoto app on my desktop machine. Apple has discontinued the app, replacing it with “Photos” on newer machines. I happened to purchase a newer machine in November 2019 but found it balky and unusable from the start, and with the Covid crisis, I haven’t been able to get it in for repairs. Thus the 2013 IMac is still my workhorse at present, as well as its IPhoto app.
I name albums by walks: if, say, I have walked from Battery Park to Grand Central, and have shot photos with the Panasonic, the album is prosaically called “battery_grand-central.” However, I just label IPhoto import albums by date, the date I imported them: “imports_5-27.” Thus the imports are a mixed bag of photos from different locations.
Today I have chosen to write about the IPhotos imported on May 27, 2019 which included all photos shot with an IPhone between 5/16/19 and 5/27/19. I was unusually busy with the IPhone camera for those 11 days and got 53 photos during the period.
I’ve done five “mixed bag” pages in the past; if you’re curious you can access them here.
I bought a new Trek bicycle for exercise in 2017. I don’t rove all over like I did in my Brooklyn and Flushing days. I just stick to the Douglaston peninsula, the Joe Michaels Mile along Cross Island Parkway, and Little Bay Park as far as Whitestone. I just don’t feel like hassling with aggressive motorists, pedestrians, and especially other bicyclists on the road. If we had more protected bike lanes in eastern Queens, I’d go further.
Anyway this is a view across Long Island Sound toward Westchester County, more specifically, New Rochelle. At the horizon you can spot three very tall towers along Huguenot Street (US Route 1): 360 Huguenot; Skyline New Rochelle; and Trump Plaza New Rochelle. I have actually never been in New Rochelle other than going through it on Metro North.
In May 2019 I joined my friend Joanna on a field trip to Finnish architect Eero Saarinen’s masterpiece, the Trans-World Airlines Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport. It had been remodeled, keeping the best of its former existence as a terminal and offices for its new role as a luxury hotel. Saarinen (1900-1961) is best known for the St. Louis, MO Gateway Arch, but did not live to see the completion of what many consider his masterworks, the TWA Terminal and the Arch. I’ll quote from panels on the interior photo exhibit…
Eero Saarinen, in 1940, was one of the most celebrated architects. In 1948 he beat his own father in a competition to design the St. Louis Gateway Arch, which was completed in 1965.
One of the architect’s first major projects, the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, MI, was completed in 1955.
“Neither an obelisk nor a rectangular box nor a dome seemed right on this site for this purpose,” Saarinen said of designing the Arch. “But here, at the edge of the Mississippi River, a great arch did seem right.”
Trans World Airlines commissioned Saarinen for its new terminal at New York City’s Idlewild Airport (now JFK) in 1955. The architect drew early sketches of the building on the back of a dinner menu, but the engineering of the structure perplexed him. One morning at breakfast, as his wife Aline watched, Sarinen flipped the rind of his grapefruit over to form a dome. Then he pushed down on the rind’s center, causing two bulges to rise — an early model for the terminal’s swooping curves.
Saarinen built hundreds of three-dimensional models of the Flight Center. Examining the models at all angles — and in different kinds of light — allowed him to further refine his vision. Such models were once integral to the design process. Today, the work is largely done with computer-generated renderings.
Building the 200,000-square foot columnless Flight Center was a three-year endeavor that began in June 1959. In the end, the terminal cost $15 million, the equivalent of $126 million today.
Constructing the wing-shaped concrete roof — which stretches more than an acre — was particularly complex. It required 10 million pounds of concrete and 1.1 million pounds of reinforcing steel. During the 120-hour concrete pour, nothing was left to chance. Crews wore different colors signifying which area of the roof they were assigned to — the trucks delivering the cement were color-coded as well…
Today, the terminal is an icon of the Jet Age. Designated a New York City landmark in 1994, it was listed on the National and New York Registers of Historic Places in 2005. And it still accomplishes Saarinen’s goals. As Aline wrote, “He wanted the …Flight Center to express the drama and wonder of air travel. He wanted to provide a building in which the human being felt uplifted, imported and full of anticipation.”
I took many more photos that day. You can see them here:
When I lead tours in Hunters Point along the East River shoreline I make sure to visit the big neon Pepsi-Cola sign, a remnant of a bottling plant that was here for much of the 20th Century. I have told its story before but here it is again…
The big sign was built in 1936 by Artkraft Signs. There used to be a clutch of neon signs in the area. Swingline Staples moved its operations out of the country in the 1990s, eliminating its Sunnyside Sign; Eagle Electrics, whose numerous loft buildings still dot the Hunters Point and Sunnyside landscape, featured a bright neon sign reading “Eagle Electric – Precision Is Not An Accident”; and, of course, there was the Silvercup Bakery on 42-22 22nd Street, whose giant sign was preserved when a TV and movie production house moved into its old space and named itself Silvercup Studios.
The structure comprised a 120-ft.-long sign grid covered with the product name. Shaped in the classic, 1930s, Art Deco, cursive script, the letters were formed with open-face channel letters outlined with exposed, ruby-red, neon lighting. Capitals “P” and “C” stood approximately 44 ft. high. Smaller letters ranged from 15 to 18 ft. high. Pepsi purists note that the “double dot” colon, which appeared with the original Pepsi name, was replaced by the dash in 1942 to “modernize” the logo. Note the relatively modern Pepsi bottle neck logo (in use from 1970-1987). It was added when Artkraft Strauss refurbished the big sign in 1994.
Pepsi-Cola was first formulated by pharmacist Caleb Bradham in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1898 as “Brad’s Drink.” Within its first year of production it was renamed Pepsi-Cola from the digestive enzyme pepsin and kola nuts, which were both in the formula.
Though Pepsi abandoned the LIC waterfront decades ago, the sign is protected by Landmarks. It has moved around over the years, but has now found what is hoped will be a permanent home at this spot in GPSP.
A mural at Lady Moody Square (Avenue U and Village Road North) in Gravesend, Brooklyn featuring painter Vincent Van Gogh and a woman with a clock for a head. I don’t know the significance of L-peace sign-heart-three lines, though.
In June 2019, Forgotten New York’s tour of Gravesend was the best-attended of the year with between 40-45 people. As with every tour, I walk my chosen route a week or so before, just to see if there’s anything extra I should talk about. I wrapped up my walk with a pair of squares at L&B Spumoni Gardens on 86th Street which has been dispensing pizza, Italian food and spumoni desserts since the 1930s. More conventional slices are available, but L&B is renowned for its squares, similar to Detroit-style pizza, with thick crust and tomato sauce on top of the cheese. However it’s not as heavy as Detroit za.
A pair of views of Broadway looking south from the “common room” at Spaces (work offices, similar to WeWork) at 1740 Broadway, where I was working for a Very Small Design Firm. Formerly home to the Mutual of New York offices, the building was made famous by rocker Tommy James! I explain that here.
Patsy’s is on West 56th near Broadway, founded in 1944 by Pasquale “Patsy” Scognamillo. The first of NYC’s “Patsy’s” pizzeria restaurants, it moved to its present location in 1955. Sal Scognamillo, grandson of the owner, is the present chef.
From Patsy’s website: Some of Patsy’s Italian Restaurant’s high profile patrons include Michael Bublé, Ben Stiller, Tony Danza, Al Pacino, Placido Domingo, Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Tom Hanks, Madonna, George Clooney, Rappers Heavy “D” and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Keanu Reeves, Jonathan Demme, Tony Bennett, Don King, Robert DeNiro, Don Rickles, Jaclyn Smith, Phyllis George, Stephen King, Calvin Klein, Carroll O’Connor, Jon Bon Jovi, Rush Limbaugh, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara Stiller, Chris Noth, Jaime Farr, Chevy Chase, Cheryl Ladd, Huey Lewis, and Patty LaBelle, to name several. In addition, our patrons have also included the late Mario Puzo, James Gandolfini, John F. Kennedy Jr., Farrah Fawcett, Rosemary Clooney, and many others.
While working in the area I was captivated by the Hearst Magazine Building/Hearst Tower — it’s two buildings in one, built in different eras, at 8th Avenue between West 56th-57th Street. The Hearst Magazine building, the bottom portion, was designed and constructed in 1928 by Joseph Urban, a 6-story base of an office tower not completed until 2006. It was built as the headquarters of Hearts Publishing’s magazine empire.
In 2006 British architect Sir Norman Foster was brought in to design the tower. He kept only the exterior facade from the original building and built an immense triangle-paned tower atop it. The new building employs “green” technology including rooftop rainwater collection, recycled steel, and nontoxic paints and carpeting.
This is the entranceway to 224-228 West 57th Street at Broadway, built in 1909 and designed by architect Francis Kimball for the A.T. Demarest and Peerless Motor Car Companies, early automobile manufacturers. This stretch of Broadway was once known as Auto Row. I will have a fuller view of this building on a page I am planning based on the environs of 1740 Broadway, where I worked from May to December 2019.
A portrait of Kosmo Kramer of Seinfeld, found in one of the Spaces offices where I was working in 2019. This is featured in an episode where Kramer was standing for a portrait pained by Jerry’s girlfriend, played by Catherine Keener, who went on to be an A-list actress in features. A pair of art critics assess the image. One says:
“I see a parasite. A sexually depraved miscreant who is seeking only to gratify his basest and most immediate urges.
“He is a loathsome, offensive brute. Yet I can’t look away.
“He sickens me.”
Two “supertall” luxury residential towers, under construction, face off across West 58th Street and Broadway on a rainy day in May 2019. On the left is 220 Central Park South and on the right is the Central Park (Nordstrom) Tower. Each tower is at least 1500 feet tall and they can be seen from as much as 30 miles away.
At lunch one day I stumbled on a climate change rally, mostly high school kids, at the Maine Monument at Columbus Circle. The Museum of Arts & Design appears in the background, along with the Hearst Tower. I roved all over on my lunch hours, as things at the office were rather lax, as long as the work got done. I’d go as far south as Times Square and as far north as 72nd Street.
One of Central Park’s few remaining cast iron bridges, Pine Bank Arch (its official name, though it’s more properly a bridge) was in dire straits by 1984, so rusty it was about to crumble. That’s when a costly and painstaking restoration was mounted. Parts that had fallen off had to be fabricated, old paint and rust had to be scraped off and the old concrete deck replaced with a wooden walkway. The result is one of Central Park’s true drawing cards, if you’re an ornamental bridge fan.
Greyshot Arch can be seen from Pine Bank. This is the closest that two Central Park bridges or arches approach each other. Both bridges are near Columbus Circle.
I scouted Fort Wadsworth for a tour in May 2019. Battery Weed offers one of the city’s great views of Manhattan and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.
Battery Weed (Fort Richmond, renamed in 1863 for General Stephen Weed after his death at age 29 at Gettysburg), was designed by the US Army’s chief engineer, Gen. Joseph G. Totten, and was built between 1845 and 1861. From the vantage at the fort’s Tompkins Street and Hudson Road, it forms a spectacular foreground to not only the Verrazzano Bridge, but also the distant Manhattan skyline and even Jersey City on the other side of the Hudson.
Battery Weed’s tiered design permitted 118 guns to aim cannonballs across the Narrows. However, by 1863 heavier munitions had been designed that could easily breach and destroy fortifications like this. The base was named Fort Wadsworth for Gen. James S. Wadsworth, an 1862 NY State gubernatorial candidate who served with distinction at the battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg and was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. Staten Island’s and Manhattan’s Wadsworth Avenues also bear his name. Battery Weed was named for Brigadier General Stephen Weed, who was killed at Gettysburg.
I posted this image from the Shrine of Mount Carmel on Amity Street in Rosebank.
Hidden deep in Staten Island’s Rosebank neighborhood is the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Grotto, a 30-foot high shrine made of concrete spangled with smooth round stones, glass marbles, shells, plastic flowers. Some of the shrine is decorated with religious icons of saints, some behind glass, some not.
You arrive at the shrine by walking down a hidden, dead-end street called Amity until you find a large yard flanked by a chain-link fence and a brick-laid pathway along which are scattered smaller shrines to the Virgin Mary and Saint Anthony.
The shrine is a remarkable tribute to faith built by the Society Of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, completed in 1938; the society maintains it today. Founded in 1903, it is one of a number of mutual aid societies formed by Italian immigrants in the early 20th Century, offering benefits and organizing religious feasts and ceremonies.
I have more photos on the Unguarded: Fort Wadsworth to Clifton page.
Arturo Di Modica’s bronze Charging Bull was forged in a Crosby Street foundry and first installed in front of the New York Stock Exchange at Broad and Wall Streets in 1989, unironically, as it turns out, but in tribute to the NY Stock Exchange, in business in lower Manhattan since the 1790s. The city quickly removed it, but found a home for it at the north end of Bowling Green where it has been ever since: a magnet for admiring tourists and disapproving activists alike ever since. In Wall Street parlance, bulls are associated with rising markets and stock purchases, where bears signify market selloffs. Standing behind the Bull is 26 Broadway.
A few blocks north of the Bull is Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street; not really Forgotten, frankly, as this area must see more tourists square inch for square inch than any other Manhattan locale, at least in normal times. Yet, there’s a great deal people don’t know about the church and the cemetery that surrounds it. I last did an FNY tour here in 2012 and I’ve held off since, because it’s so damned crowded. I imagine that soon, as soon as I start taking subways again, I’ll return, do a shoot, and write a page on what I talked about on that tour.
The first mention of this space as a burial ground was in 1673, over twenty years before the first Trinity Church was built from 1696-1697 when a small group of Anglicans living in Manhattan petitions Governor Benjamin Fletcher for approval to purchase land for a new church. Approval was granted and the petitioners purchase land for the new church from the Lutheran Congregation in Manhattan.
That first church was burned down during a 1776 fire begun by invading British forces. The second church was built between 1788-1790, surviving another great fire in 1835, but was found to be inadequate for the needs of a growing body of worshippers, and so the third church, the neo-Gothic structure designed by Richard Upjohn, was consecrated in 1846. For many years, it was the tallest building in the city. The adjoining memorial chapel was built from 1912-1913. Until the Revolutionary War there were about 160,000 interments in the Trinity Cemetery churchyard. However, during the fires many tombstones were destroyed and others rendered unreadable.
Clustering to the rear of the church like alien beings are the 925-foot tall residential tower, 125 Greenwich Street; One World Trade Center; #4 World Trade Center; One Liberty Plaza (former US Steel Tower); and The comparatively elderly One trinity Center.
The Fulton Street subway complex is labyrinthine and requires years of practice to understand where to go to catch the train you want, as three trunk lines (IRT Broadway, IRT Lexington, and BMT Nassau Street) converge there. You can get A, C, 2, 3, 4, 5, J and Z trains and there’s also a tunnel connection to the BMT Broadway (R).
These “maritime murals” were created in 1913 by artist Fred Dana Marsh for the opening of the McAlpin Hotel at Herald Square, Broadway and West 34th Street, now called the Herald Towers. The murals were located in the hotel’s basement Marine Grill and remained there until 1989, when the McAlpin was being converted to cooperative apartments. In 2000. the MTA acquired them and placed them on one of the access staircases to the subway complex. You can see more of them on this FNY page.
One of Manhattan’s most unique monuments gets stepped on thousands of times daily. William Barthman first set up a jewelry shop in the Financial District in 1884, and added a sidewalk clock on the corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane in 1899. The clock was designed by Barthman and an employee, Frank Homm. When Homm died in 1917, no one knew how to maintain its singular design, and the clock was replaced with a more customary model in 1925 that’s been in place ever since.
The Barthman Clock has been attacked by vandals and trodden on for years, but it keeps on ticking with the help of an electric motor. An organization known as the Maiden Lane Historical Society set up a plaque in 1928 at Barthman’s depicting what Broadway and Maiden Lane looked like that year. In 1946, the NYPD estimated that 51,000 people stepped on the clock every day.
After moving up Broadway a few years ago, the jeweler now has an address in Brooklyn. But it made an arrangement with the current building to maintain the Barthman Clock, even though the unusual timepiece doesn’t have Landmarks Preservation Commission protection.
Five months after being damaged but not destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Fritz Koenig‘s The Sphere, which once stood at the center of the plaza of the World Trade Center a few blocks away, was reinstalled in a temporary location along Eisenhower Mall in the northern section of the park. There, along with an eternal flame, it served to memorialize the victims of 9/11/2001.
The Sphere has been moved to accommodate the route of a new bike path, but it has now found a home in Liberty Park.
Liberty Plaza Park was affected greatly from the destruction of the World Trade Center a block away in 2001, and it was used for months thereafter as a staging area for emergency vehicles and equipment. Formerly a large, relatively shade-free concrete plaza, the park was given a rehabilitation in 2006-2007 when dozens of honey locust trees were planted and new fluorescent lighting was installed under the pavements, in an unusual arrangement.
For many years a highlight of the park was J. Seward Johnson Jr.’s “Double Check” sculpture showing a Wall Street businessman. After it was damaged on 9/11/01, it was later rehabbed and replaced in Zuccotti Park. Mark di Suvero’s “Joie De Vivre” tripod sculpture was installed on the southeast corner of the park in 2006.
As part of the 2006 renovations the park was renamed for John Zuccotti (1937- ) NYC Deputy Mayor in 1975 under Abraham Beame, the chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, and of Brookfield Properties, which owns the park.
In late 2011 and early 2012 Zuccotti Park was the staging area for Occupy Wall Street‘s protest against economic inequality and it became known worldwide as hundreds, if not thousands, gathered in the park for several months.
The former NY Chamber of Commerce Building, 65 Liberty Street, put the “Beaux” in “Beaux Arts.” Now the International Commercial Bank of China, a Beaux Arts building constructed in 1901. After running and losing for Vice-President in 1920, Franklin D. Roosevelt worked in this tower for the Fidelity and Deposit Company before entering public life again as NYS Governor and a 4-term US President.
The Chamber of Commerce occupied it until 1980 but before that, it has been safely protected by the Landmarks Commission of New York in 1966. According to Daytonian in Manhattan (which has several photos of the interior shortly after it opened), the second floor is reminiscent of the Paris Opera House.
If the three spaces between the pilasters on the second floor look a little empty to you, that’s because there had been three large statues there depicting John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Alexander Hamilton, first Treasury Secretary; and DeWitt Clinton, who held nearly every important office in New York State during his lifetime. However, when the building was remodeled in 1990, replacing most of the exterior marble, the statues were so badly damaged that they had to be scrapped.
This abstract black and white sculpture is Jean Dubuffet’s “Group of Four Trees” and can be seen in Chase Manhattan Plaza at William and Pine Streets. The work was sculpted and placed here between 1969 and 1972.