At 38 stories, the CBS building in New York isn't anywhere near the tallest. Its location at 52nd St and 6th Avenue isn't special. Even its design and construction were not - as buildings go - controversial. But, for what it offers both inside and out, CBS is a destination of choice for visitors of New York.
The Eero Saarinen designed edifice is at the apogee of the International Style. Saarinen, a Finnish born architect of world-renown, also designed the elegant Washington DC airport terminal. The CBS building is his only skyscraper.
The building's dark gray exterior is formed by straight-to-the-sky concrete pillars clad in Canadian black granite alternating with darkened glass. It appears almost as a modern version of a medieval castle, with an inviting plaza substituted for a drawbridge. Continue reading
It's rare to find an oasis of calm in frenetic New York City. The lights of Broadway, the zooming taxis and the throngs of people all suggest what New York is: a bustling, modern metropolis. Even lush Central Park is a buzz with skaters, Frisbee tossers and the odd car crossing from east to west.
The Cloisters as seen from Hudson River
But not far north, and surprisingly still part of Manhattan, is a zone of peace and quiet from the Middle Ages - The Cloisters.
Though constructed in the 1930s, on land donated by John D. Rockefeller, the museum was designed to closely resemble five medieval Cloisters. Most of the structures and collection center around two broad periods, the Romanesque (roughly from 1100-1150AD) and the Gothic (approx. 1150-1520AD).
The facility is owned and managed as a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (at Fifth Ave and 82nd St), but geographically, artistically and in setting it is worlds away. Continue reading
For over 100 years, Carnegie Hall New York has been the mutual destination of musicians seeking the highest level of their profession and those who want to experience their efforts.
Whether your taste runs to classical or jazz, folk or pop, Carnegie Hall New York has hosted them all. Tchaikovsky guest conducted the first performance in 1891, but the decades after saw performances by Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Judy Collins and many others.
The building gained its name as a consequence of being yet another offspring of the great industrialist and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. Completed in 1897, just over 100 years later Carnegie Hall offers not only the three original auditoriums but also a museum, tours, and (since 1990) an adjoining office tower. Continue reading
Whether you're looking for great jazz, comedy, booze, coffee or just plain wild, New York club scene are among the best in the world. All decors, price ranges, ambiance and kinds of acts are here in abundance. Uptown, downtown, mid-town and Greenwich or East Side, West Side and even a few in Brooklyn - they dot the New York City landscape like fireflies in Central Park.
Everything from ballroom dancing to the latest thing (which there's no point in naming, since before this sees press it will be replaced by something new) is easy to find. Jazz venues range from Coltrane or Basie-style to the artists that will become famous next year. Hard pounding rock from the 60s-90s and beyond to the folk singers of yesteryear and tomorrow are trying out their stuff in the music capital of the world.
Comedy clubs large and small, from upscale to peanut shells on the floor are everywhere from the top of Central Park to Greenwich Village. They share the city with Cigar and Wine clubs and a thousand shops dedicated to coffees from the world over. Continue reading
Manhattan Brooklyn Bridge is one of the world's most famous bridges, who could think that a steel roadway could engender such controversy and passion? Yet, that's the history of the Brooklyn Bridge since before its construction began to the present day.
Brooklyn Bridge History
Brooklyn Bridge, 1895
Initiated by John A. Roebling, who by 1867 had already created other noted bridges, the project took years to even begin. As with most large-scale efforts, finance and politics struggled while the citizens of Brooklyn and Manhattan waited.
Finally, in 1870, construction began - sadly, without J.A. Roebling who by that time had died from an injury sustained earlier on the site. His son Washington, by now also an accomplished bridge engineer, immediately took over direction of the project.
He threw himself into the effort with such active participation that he too eventually suffered a debilitating injury. He became crippled from the bends. Excess nitrogen build-up in caissons, large airtight cylinders used to house men and equipment under the East River, produced the now-familiar 'diving sickness' when men moved back to the surface. At the time, the causes were poorly understood. Continue reading
Along Broadway in Manhattan there are more things to do and see on one street than in many large cities. This long avenue runs north-south, mostly, and its deviations are appropriate to its role in the life of New York. For, Broadway is home to business, theater, dining, shops and a host of famous buildings.
Where Broadway intersects Fifth Avenue, at 23rd street, lies the turn-of-the-century Flatiron Building. Sited on a triangular plot, this wedge-shaped 21-story office building has attracted the curious since its completion in 1901. Even then, the unusual site produced wind gusts that lifted skirts, attracting male onlookers who were shooed away by the policeman's once-famous phrase '23 Skidoo'.
Another best of Broadway in New York is only a little further up, at 233 Broadway, is the medieval-looking Woolworth Building. Completed in 1913, it was the tallest building in New York prior to the completion of the Chrysler Building. Even today its tall floors combine to reach the equivalent height of an 80-story skyscraper. Inside, its cathedral-like décor makes this massive tower an architectural marvel inside and out. Continue reading
New Yorkers are famous for many things, not least of which is a sense of irony. One more instance of that can be found in the fact that Wall Street, by which most people really mean the New York Stock Exchange, isn't located on the street called Wall at all. It's actually at 20 Broad Street.
View on to Wall Street and the New York Stock ...
But, it's a minor quibble that most Manhattanites would rightly dismiss with a characteristic wave of the hand.
Though the stock exchange tour has been closed since 9/11, the building is still a sight to behold and the streets of the surrounding area could form a study in the history of architecture. George Washington was inaugurated in Federal Hall and important events have been occurring here ever since.
Whether viewing the stately, turn-of-the-century NYSE building or the ultra-modern American Express the area carved out by the Dutch in 1653 is full of amazing sights. The actual Wall Street did get its name from running alongside a wooden palisade erected then to protect the town from wild Indians. Now, along the short, random-angled streets is a cornucopia of people and buildings of all shapes and sizes. Continue reading
Geographically, New York City is divided into five boroughs or districts: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx. Interestingly, each houses a botanical garden and deciding which is the best is an exercise we leave to experts.
Lower Central Park
But for the visitor wanting only to experience the quiet, lush beauty of the extraordinary settings no controversial decision is necessary. Simply visit them all!
Manhattan hosts, of course, 1) Central Park. While not designed as a botanical garden there are nonetheless thousands of flower and tree species on display.
Carefully sculpted and landscaped in accordance with Frederick Law Olmstead's original master plan, the current park has seen a Renaissance in recent years and is a must-see destination. Continue reading
Times Square is the heart of New York City in so many ways, this neon-lit district is the Las Vegas of Manhattan. For nearly twenty years, apart from Broadway shows, the area was almost unbearable owing to the seedy inhabitants and shops. No more.
42nd Street Subway
Originally developed in the 1830s by the wealthy Astor family as a nose-in-the-air neighborhood, the current name came into being when the New York Times established itself there in 1906. When the subways made it to the 42nd Street, the city's theater producers moved from lower Manhattan, filling 76 theaters by 1928.
During WWII families could visit a show, have a bite to eat and return home without worry. That's true again, thanks to an extensive rejuvenation effort that began in the 1990s. The crowds are still there, thicker than even normally crowded Manhattan. But for both the natives and visitors there are theaters, restaurants, shops and much more. Continue reading
Why is New York so famous? After all, the weather is terrible, the city is overcrowded, and even the buildings are second to many others elsewhere. The cigar-shaped strip of land called Manhattan is difficult to access with bridges crowded with cars, streets clogged with buses and taxis.
Where after all were some of the first subways built making possible the productive use of former swamp land? The early 20th century saw the expansion of the system North to Central Park and beyond where there were formerly shanties and mosquitos. Now the area hosts some of the most elegant businesses and museums in the world. Continue reading