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Bryant Park-NYC Lawn-SecretsBryant Park. Photo via Wikimedia by Jean-Christophe BENOIST

Bryant Park is one of the city’s most illustrious public spaces, but it has come a long way from its more humble origins. As we’ll show in this guide, the history and architecture reveal the many secrets that lie beneath and around the park today.

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Side by Side-Robin Hill-Four Seasons Restaurant-Philip Johnson Glass House-Mies Van der Rohe-Farnsworth House_3 copy

Although the Picasso tapestry at the Four Seasons Restaurant is now on display at the New York Historical Society, the iconic restaurant in New York City’s Seagram Building has offered yet another reason to stop by. A new exhibit, Side by Side by photographer Robin Hill launched yesterday, and for architectural fans it’s a must-see. The Seagram Building is a fitting backdrop, as Philip Johnson designed both this Park Avenue skyscraper as well as the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. But the juxtaposition of the Glass House and the Farnsworth House–at least in such a formal study–is new.

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Liberty hotel by hour chelsea triangle-NYC-Untapepd Cities- jinwoo chong

It’s called The Liberty Inn. On an unassuming corner of West Street and 15th Street, it’s an oddly shaped triangular building, an old remnant of the Meatpacking District area’s former days as a shipping district and seafaring hotel. Built in 1906 by poultry wholesalers as the Strand Hotel, it got its current name in 1969. Aside from a red awning with ‘LIBERTY’ scrawled across the front in a faux-cursive type, there’s nothing particularly distinguishing about the place.

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Level Club-Masonic Clubhouse Hotel-73rd Street-Upper West Side-NYC

We previously covered the history of the Level Club, a former masonic clubhouse and hotel on the Upper West Side of Manhattan–but recently Scouting New York got some great photographs of the lobby. The cornerstone was laid in 1925, but by 1930, saddled with a mortgage of $2.2 million, the opulent 16-story hotel went into foreclosure. But the lofty goals of the Level Club seemed justified in the decade leading up to the Great Depression. Founded with just 22 members in 1920, in less than five years it had a membership of over 5,000 masons including then-United States President Warren G. Harding.

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Michael Heizer Altars Gagosian City-NYC-Untapepd Cities- jinwoo chong-3‘Potato Chip’, 18 tons

If you ask an art aficionado why they’d pay millions for a Van Gogh (and most of them probably would), the answer might be because Van Gogh was a master Post-Impressionist who defined the form and set a daunting standard. But Van Gogh, as a figure of mystery, just as famous for cutting off his ear as he is for ‘The Starry Night,’ is more than a master painter. His paintings sell for millions also because his tortuous life and peculiar habits made him not just a great painter but a legendary artist.

There is no how-to book for those who aspire to be legendary artists, but Michael Heizer might be onto something. Heizer’s latest show, ‘Altars,’ opened last month at the Gagosian Gallery on West 24th Street in the heart of Chelsea‘s art gallery sector, but many say his magnum opus is yet to come. In fact, it’s been coming for the past 40 years.

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719 Greenwich Street-Greenwich Village-Cabin on Roof-David Puchkoff and Eileen Stukane-NYCPhoto by George Steinmetz via Gothamist

We’re excited New Yorkers are finally getting behind the fascination that are rooftop cottages–could there be any better way to beat the urban jungle, while still staying in it? Yesterday, Gothamist revealed yet another–a cabin sitting in an urban meadow with a porch to take it all in. As The New York Times reported in 2006, owner David Puchkoff was inspired by a visit to Elk, Pennsylvania and just wanted a porch.

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