In our roundup of nautically-influenced architecture in New York City, the O’Toole Medical Services Building of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village was high on our list. Built originally for the National Maritime Union by architect Albert C. Ledner, it’s clad in white with portholes as windows. It closed in 2010, but The New York Times has reported that the building will be reused as a medical facility again by the North-Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, who will repurpose the space as an emergency room and care center.
Recently, Untapped Cities reader Rachel Potter submitted the following preservation query to our mailbag:
I have a question about landmark preservation rules – recently I saw the article about the ‘64 World’s Fair [in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park] and the decision whether to restore or demolish them. I also learned that JFK’s Pan Am Worldport is being torn down. I’m confused though, since both of these sites have historic landmark status, how is it possible to demolish them? Isn’t the point of landmark status to ensure their preservation in the midst of projected redevelopment?
For more than half its life, Lower Manhattan’s iconic Woolworth Building has been off-limits to all but the lucky few employed in its handful of professional office spaces. While the lobby has been technically closed to the public since World War II, the management doubled down on its policy after 9/11, erecting the infamous “TOURISTS ARE NOT PERMITTED” sign much bemoaned by local architecture buffs.
On Wednesday, January 22nd at 6:30pm, we’ll be offering readers the chance for intimate, hour-long tour led by Jason Crowley, a preservationist and architectural historian who is working to digitize and catalogue the extensive collection of Woolworth Building archives. You will not only get to see the famous lobby, but also the vault of the former bank and past entrances to subway lines in the basement of the building.
Jason will lead us across the street to City Hall Park where we’ll examine the highly ornamented exterior of what was once the tallest building in the world. After discussing the Woolworth’s crucial importance to the development of the skyscraper and the New York City skyline, Jason will take us into the lobby, where he’ll share commentary on the vaulted ceilings and sculptural details.
Following the tour, Untapped Cities history columnist Benjamin Waldman will lead guests to an optional cocktail hour at Fraunces Tavern. While you mingle with other members of the Untapped community, Ben will be on hand to discuss the evolution of New York City’s skyscrapers from Trinity Church to the World Trade Center, as well as the zoning changes they’ve necessitated.
Tour has limited capacity. Tickets available for tour only, tour and cocktail-hour Q&A, or cocktail-hour Q&A only.
See more of Untapped Cities’ upcoming events here.
What is a “mill town“? A town near the type of old-fashioned gristmill you see on postcards or oil paintings at a flea market? Not really, though in their time, these would have probably qualified, too. The mill towns of the twentieth century through the current day are moderate-sized (sometimes large) cities built around one or more factory that forms the basis of the local economy.
The buildings that house the Italian American Museum are threatened with the museum’s plans to sell to a developer. Image by by rfzappala
Preservationists and historians are seeking to save the building that currently houses the Italian American Museum from, ironically, the museum itself. The 19th-century brick row at 181-189 Grand Street in Little Italy was previously the Stabile Bank (Banca Stabile) and still retains its vintage interior, which includes the vault, tin ceilings, marble counters and bronze grilles. Tour guide Justin Ferate says the building “radiates an Old World intimacy.” The Stabile family owned the buildings until 2008, when it was sold to the Italian American Museum.