The Bowery Boys recently took us into Gimbel’s traverse, a gorgeous skybridge located on West 32nd Street in Herald Square. In 1910, Gimbel’s department store set up a location in Herald Square near their main competitor, Macy’s. Other departments stores followed suit, and a shopping district was born. To distinguish themselves from the other department stores, Gimbel’s was known for various marketing ploys like the “bargain basement.” If that wasn’t enough to attract attention, they also created a skybridge in 1925 which connected the department store to the newly-acquired annex next door. Architects Richmond H. Shreve and William F. Lamb, who later helped design the Empire State Building, designed the copper, three-story-tall structure. With this marvelous feat of engineering, shoppers no longer had to deal with crossing the congested street below.
Looking up, we noticed a preponderance of owls around New York City. Given the owl’s mythological and symbolic connection to wisdom, it’s not surprising to find them at the city’s institutions. Below are some notable owls we’ve spotted so far- what other owls can you add to the list?
1. Alma Mater at Columbia University
The Alma Mater in front of Columbia University’s Low Library. Photo by slgckgc on Flickr.
The Alma Mater statue sits imposingly at the foot of Columbia University‘s Low Library. Student legend has it that the first student in each incoming class to spot the owl hiding in the folds of the statue will be the valedictorian of the class. (more…)
Bill de Blasio already has a parody Twitter account (@BilldeBleezy) in his honor. The mayor elect, who will assume office in January as the 109th chief public official of the City of New York, represents a major paradigm shift in the political drumbeat in the most visited city in United States. His predecessor, three-term serving billionaire Michael Bloomberg, has a Twitter parody, too, but de Blasio’s will no doubt be of a decidedly different tone. For starters, his Spanish is markedly better.
The Macy’s at 34th Street in Herald Square is still undergoing renovation but one question on many a vintage-fan’s mind is: Will they replace the historic wooden escalators? The original commercial escalators were manufactured by Otis Elevator Company in 1902. A 2012 New York Times article reports that plans include “preserving 42 of the store’s 43 wooden escalators. (The 43rd is being dismantled and cannibalized for parts to keep the others going).”
In New York City, skybridges are largely a thing from the past. As we mentioned in our last skybridge roundup, they exemplify the city’s push to tempt the creative boundaries of architecture. But aside from aesthetics, skybridges may come in handy as a temperature-controlled method of movement or as a means to decrease walker congestion on the ground. Cities that are heavily populated or suffer from extreme weather already have extensive skybridge systems, like the Minneapolis Skyway System and Mumbai’s Skywalk Project.
Here are a few more skybridges that we came across in Manhattan:
Untapped New York has previously explored art along the 1/2/3, 4/5/6, N/Q/R, and A/C/E subway lines. This week, I tackled the B/D/F/M lines–the only group that travels through the four continguous boroughs, and Arts for Transit has provided compelling art in all of them!
On the mezzanine at Woodhaven Boulevard station in Queens, Pablo Tauler crafted nine metal columns called In Memory of the Lost Battalion (1996). The title references World War I soldiers who died in the bloody Battle of the Argonne Forest, and the beams have a natural, art nouveau style to them that recalls the sylvan landscape. The use of glass and metal both captures and reflects light, and as the harried commuter passes through she is temporarily transported to a natural glen, beautiful yet tragic.
Pablo Tauler, In Memory of the Lost Battalion, 1996. (more…)