Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sight Seeing in Lower Manhattan

I did something yesterday that New York residents rarely do.  I went sightseeing in Lower Manhattan.  I took my newly repaired trusty little digital camera and visited the 9/11 Memorial for the first time ever, and the World Trade Center site for the first time in over 10 years.

All the photos except for a couple of historical pictures are mine and are freely available, especially to educators.

1 World Trade Center, now mostly open for business with long lines waiting to pay some absurdly high price to visit the observation deck on the top 3 floors.
I see this building almost daily from a distance in Brooklyn or from the Lower East Side.

What little is left of Kenneth Snelson's original design for the top of 1 WTC.

Tourists around the North Tower Memorial.  The memorial pits were even bigger in real life than they appear in the photos.

The North Tower Memorial and the base of 1 WTC

The North Tower Memorial; the two pits contain the largest manmade waterfalls in the world.

The North Tower Memorial

The South Tower Memorial

The South Tower Memorial

The South Tower Memorial

1 WTC from the South Tower Memorial

The Museum entrance pavilion from the south

The Museum entrance pavilion from the north; I did not go into the Museum for a host of reasons, among them the very long line you see here.  The design of this building is very striking suggesting a fallen World Trade Center tower.

Santiago Calatrava's spectacular entrance skylight for the new Transit Hub is almost finished.

Another view of Calatrava's giant skeletal bird from Greenwich Street, open to Cortlandt Street for the first time in about 50 years.

The Calatrava Bird from Saint Paul's Chapel church yard; I used to work in the Borders Store that was located just to the right in this picture.  Where that giant bird now stands, Borders employees used to go smoke.

#4 World Trade Center

Liberty/Zucotti Park today

The same spot photographed by me October 6, 2011 when it was the hub of Occupy Wall Street.  In the foreground is the improvised lending library that they set up.  They also had a functioning clinic, canteen, broadcast facilities, and a press office in this square.
Some of us haven't forgotten.

Saint Paul's Chapel with its spire under scaffolding, the oldest church building in Manhattan and a little bit of London in Downtown.

Saint Paul's Chapel is the oldest church building in Manhattan and still one of the best in my opinion.

One of the oldest paintings of the Great Seal of the USA from 1781 over Washington's pew in Saint Paul's.

Wall Street

Well of course they fly the flag.  They bought it.  The Stock Exchange.

I remember sitting on the steep steps of the Federal Hall Memorial looking at this flag in the weeks that followed the September 11th Attacks wondering just how patriotic it really is to keep overseas tax shelters in a time of national emergency.

The Federal Hall Memorial, site of Federal Hall, the first Capitol of the United States, and this site of the Inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the USA.  The present building was built in 1842 as the US Customs House designed by Alexander Jackson Davis and is a very exact Greek Revival Doric order on the outside.

The original Federal Hall was built in 1700 and demolished in 1812 on this site.  The giant bronze statue of Washington supposedly stands on the very spot where he took the oath of office.

Inside the Federal Hall Memorial, a not so exact Greek Revival interior.  This is one of my favorite rooms in the city.

Supposedly the very paving stone upon which Washington stood to take the Presidential oath of office.

A 19th century painting in Federal Hall of Washington's Inauguration with Trinity Church in a previous incarnation in the background.

This very small unremarkable little pocket park marks the site of New York City's slave market, one of the biggest in the USA.

Trinity Church, the masterpiece of architect Richard Upjohn who designed numerous churches in New York City and all along the Eastern Seaboard.  Completed in 1846, this is the third church to stand on this site.  The first church was built in 1698.

Trinity Church is the wealthiest church congregation in the USA.  The people who attend regularly are not much different in income than any other church-goers in New York.  The average incomes of regulars at Saint Thomas on Fifth Avenue or Saint Bartholomew's on Park Avenue or Saint Ignatius Loyola (RC) also on Park Avenue are certainly much higher than those of Trinity's congregants.  What makes Trinity so rich is all the land that it owns, among the most valuable in the world.  When the church was founded in 1696, William and Mary granted the church most of the west side of Manhattan and much of the land underneath the Financial District.  The church remains one of the largest and wealthiest property owners in Manhattan funding most of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and much of the rest of the Episcopal Church.

Trinity Church remains a major monument of 19th century Gothic Revival architecture influencing church design around the world.

The grave of Alexander Hamilton in Trinity Churchyard.

An old 18th century grave stone in Trinity Churchyard; thousands upon thousands lie buried in Trinity Churchyard.  Only a few of all of the graves are marked.  Vibrations from traffic and construction frequently force bones to the surface.  The bones are collected in a bone box in the church that is then ceremonially reburied when it gets full.

A pew's eye view of Richard Upjohn's splendid interior for Trinity Church.
The reredos and altar are later additions from 1876 to 1877.  Trinity was originally a very low church parish that forbade Upjohn from designing anything like an altar for the apse of the church (to his great frustration).

The magnificent window above the altar.

The very beautifully designed arcading in the church

More aisles, clerestory, and Upjohn's splendid variation on English vaulting

Our City Hall completed in 1812, magnificently restored and completely inaccessible to anyone except the City council and city employees with clearance.  I can't help but contrast this over-secured building with the Texas State Capitol that is wide open to everyone, especially when the state legislature is not in session (which is most of the time).

A lot of history took place on the steps of New York's City Hall.  Here is a historic photograph of City Hall during President Lincoln's funeral in 1865.

Horace Greely who told all the young men to go west, and who hired a foreign correspondent in London named Karl Marx to work for the New York Tribune.

The Potter Building completed in 1886
This is one of the last elaborate newspaper palaces left on Park Row across from City Hall.  The New York World, The NY Tribune, the NY Times, and others all had big elaborate headquarters along Park Row.

The Woolworth Building finished in 1913, the masterpiece of Cass Gilbert.  So far as I know, this is the only major commercial building paid entirely with cash.  This building began the skyscraper race in Manhattan from about 1913 to the end of the 1930s.  FW Woolworth wanted Gilbert to design the tallest building in New York to get back at Metropolitan Life for some personal slight, and for having the temerity to build such a tall elaborate tower on Madison Square Park.
The unprecedented height of the building caused a lot of widespread anxiety about future buildings of similar height blocking out light and air from the streets below.  The 1916 zoning laws requiring buildings above a certain height to be setback from the street was a legacy of this building.  Today this once tallest building looks like a midget compared to the buildings around it.  Perhaps the anxieties of the early 20th century were not unfounded as the sky-high investment towers going up on Billionaire's Row on 57th street threaten to cast mile long shadows into Central Park and to put the entire southern quarter of the Park into perpetual twilight.

The Tweed Courthouse behind City Hall.
This building was under construction from 1861 to 1881 and cost $11 million to $12 million in 19th century dollars (so many billions now).  The building was never really completed.  It was supposed to be topped by a tall dome that was never built.  Due to all the graft and so many people stealing the building's funds, it took longer and cost more money to build this comparatively small and modest building than to build the British Houses of Parliament in London, a far larger building.


Chambers Street with the Tweed Courthouse on the right and the Municipal Building at the end of the street.

The tower of the Municipal Building completed in 1914, designed by William Kendall of the historic McKim, Mead, and White firm.  This was the first building to incorporate a subway station in its base (it's still there and still functions).  This magnificent piece of Beaux-Arts wedding cake would inspire other buildings from the Terminal Tower in Cleveland to the Wrigley Building in Chicago to Moscow University.

The African Burial Ground Memorial.  New York City buried its African inhabitants both slave and free in a separate cemetery outside the city walls beginning in the 17th century.  It was long thought that the cemetery was destroyed during the leveling of Manhattan to construct the 1811 Commissioner's Plan for New York.  Workers in 1991 accidentally rediscovered the cemetery during the construction of a new federal office building under fill from the 1811 leveling.  Archaeologists excavated 419 graves here out of an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 burials in the original cemetery. The Memorial marks only a small portion of a once large cemetery.

Inscription on the African Burial Ground Memorial.

From the African Burial Ground Memorial

From the African Burial Ground Memorial

The courthouses on Foley Square

The Haughwout Building built in 1857.
This is the best of the surviving cast iron buildings made by Daniel Badger's Architectural Ironworks in Lower Manhattan.  These cast iron buildings in Soho, Tribeca, and other parts of Lower Manhattan were precursors to the steel frame construction invented in Chicago in the 1890s.  This one was modeled on the Sansovino Library in Venice by the designer John P. Gaynor, and once housed a very posh department store frequented by Mary Todd Lincoln.
The Haughwout Building also had the world's first successful passenger elevator built by Elijah Otis.

Corner of the Haughwout Building

Frontispiece for Daniel Badger's catalogue

The great Chicago architect Louis Sullivan's only building in New York City, the Bayard-Condict Building completed in 1899, one of his most elaborate.  It was one of the first skeleton-frame buildings in New York covered with a surface of glass and terra-cotta.

Detail of the terra-cotta work on the Bayard-Condict Building.  The ornament is all Sullivan's design and as in all of his buildings is integral to the entire building.

Detail from the Bayard-Condict Building

Detail from the Bayard-Condict Building

Detail from the Bayard-Condict Building

A salute to our friends on the Left Coast on Houston Street.  I have no idea what this is about or why it is here.

Self-portrait in the glass of the 9/11 Museum


Jay Simser said...

I just want to comment on your postings. I have traveled the world through your pictures. They are wonderful and I am so grateful that you have taken the time and effort to share them with us. These are magical photos and these have brightened my world. Thank you.

Counterlight said...

Thanks for the compliment. It is my pleasure.

JCF said...

One of those (fairly non-descript, in my memory) courthouse buildings was where I was taken in my one and only experiment in (intentional) law-breaking, a sit-in of (then Sen.) Alphonse D'Amato's office at the outset of Gulf War I (he was in favor, we Union Seminary students were opposed, obviously!). After we were (quickly) let go, I reported back there (on 2-3 occasions, IIRC) for my court date. The arresting officer never showed up, and the charges were dropped. Here endeth my criminal past. :-p

That African Burial Ground Memorial is new---they had just discovered it (the Burial Grounds) when I lived in Manhattan. Quite striking: I'll have to make a point of it when (if? when!) next I visit. [Strangely enough, I don't feel any great compuction about Ground Zero. I visited when it was still a solemn pit in 2004, and that was enough.]

OMG, I've GOT to see that Sullivan building though! [Bayard-Condict] I LOVE Louis Sullivan---I don't think I knew he did a building in NYC! Wow, gorgeous.

I've never been inside Trinity, Wall Street, either, and would like to visit. [Perhaps even pray, if my Socialist conscience lets me. ;-/ ]

Thanks, Doug.

Counterlight said...

I must confess to being unmoved at the 9/11 Memorial myself. It is certainly impressive, but moving? I think the trees and the landscaping softened too much Michael Arad's original conception of a bare plaza a few feet below street level containing the waterfall pits. He wanted to keep that powerful sense of erasure that the original ground zero site evoked. Now, it looks like a great big downtown park swarming with tourists.

I love the Sullivan building myself.

tina benez said...

Fantastic fotos Doug! Hi! :D I did the same thing a while ago! Felt like a totes tourist! B-) I'd luv to cu before I move to SF this fall I believe, and for reals this time! ;) 917 673 4339 are my same measurements ... I mean digits! :O All my luv as always! teens! ;oxo..