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Diamond District-Diamond Lampposts-Business Improvement District-Midtown-NYC

We’ve walked by the Diamond District in Midtown Manhattan so many times, even reporting on the Gold Arcade that’s midblock. But somehow we managed to miss its most symbolic architecture–the diamond shaped lamp posts that mark the entrance to the unique district on 47th Street. One is situated on 5th Avenue and the other on 6th Avenue, and they turn green (when lit up). The lamp posts are the work of the 47th Street Business Improvement District, an organization formed in 1997. The diamond-shaped pylons (as they’re called officially) were part of a lager initiative that included other street lights designed specifically for the block.

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The newly renovated United Nations building on the east side of Manhattan is the first update to the building since it opened in 1952. But an update is perhaps not quite the right term, because architect Michael Alderstein has more accurately restored the building to its original glory. The renovations, totaling $2.1 billion over six years, are predominantly on the infrastructure with the original International style aesthetics left mostly untouched. We recently took a tour of the renovations over Open House New York weekend with the architects, learning among many things that the U.N. has its own police and fire department, as well as postal department. When you enter the U.N. building, you essentially leave America and enter international territory.

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Color_Penn-Station-Demolition_New-York-City-Untapped CitiesPenn Station demolition. Image via wirednewyork.com.

Editor’s note: The following is a piece by Justin Rivers, who has been working for 10 years on a play about the demolition of Penn Station which previewed at the Center for Architecture last fall. The project, titled The Eternal Space, is currently in Kickstarter fundraiser to bring it to fruition. 

Fifty-one years ago today, construction crews pulled up to the 33rd Street entrance of New York City’s Beaux-Arts marvel, Pennsylvania Station, with orders to begin its three-year demolition. The station was only 53 years old at the time. It covered two full city blocks, making it the largest indoor public space in the world. Penn’s demolition was precipitated by the bankrupting of the Pennsylvania Railroad, who was forced to sell its air rights and move its rail operation down into an ill-conceived basement station barely one-third the original station’s size. Among many things, Penn Station’s destruction was a symbolic torch passing from the grandiose appreciation of the past to the austere simplicity of the future. As the New York Times so aptly put it in 1961, “The Age of Elegance bowed to the Age of Plastic.”

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Even before the Brooklyn Bridge was finished in 1883, city planners recognized that additional East River crossings would be needed to meet the growing transportation needs of New York City. Construction began on the Williamsburg Bridge on October 28th, 1896, with Leffert Buck as the chief engineer and Henry Hombostel as the architect. Here are ten interesting facts about the creation of the bridge that you may not be aware of:

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Roof of Grand Central Terminal-Dark Cyanide-Instagram-Untapped Cities-NYC-Urban ExplorationPhoto by darkcyanide

Last week, we brought you inside the Grand Central Terminal clock, the largest Tiffany clock in the world, with urban explorer darkcyanide and dirtydav1This week, they’ve scaled the roof of the famous terminal showing us how cleverly the building hides its necessary infrastructure. See below for more incredible photos and brush up on the secrets of Grand Central Terminal.

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Bellevue Hospital Ambulance-1895-Vintage Photograph-NY-Byron Collection-MCNY-NYTimes StoreHorse-drawn ambulance at Bellevue Hospital in 1895. Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

As many of you know, the first patient with Ebola in New York City is now quarantined at Bellevue Hospital on the east side of Manhattan. We thought we would look at vintage images of the fascinating complex, which has been around since 1736. Appropriately, it was actually founded as a quarantine hospital and is the oldest public hospital in the United States.

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