Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I don't usually go to Midtown, I have little reason to. However, the other day, I found myself there trying to get out of the Grand Central Station at the exit closest to where I wanted to be. It didn't work and then suddenly, I found myself in the belly of the Chanin Building.

This is the exit from the subway to the Chanin Building. By the way the building is a monument to Irwin Chanin a major real estate developer of the 1920's. The facade is terra cotta with a bas relief of fantastic flowery images. I had never seen this corridor and the it gave me an unexpected pleasure. I decided to come back and explore the next day.

I remembered quite soon why I don't spend more time taking pictures in Midtown. There are not so many places where one can take pictures. There are security guards in the lobbies, policemen in the places that have the slightest security risk. Still I found a few places that reminded me why I secretly love this part of town.

The French Building is another monument to a jazz age prince. It has a lot of stylized near east art with an art deco vibe. All the powerful men of the time built some kind of magnificent building. They all had a softness for the naked female embellishment as well.

Check out the decorative form on the awning of the Waldorf=Astoria

I love the Seagram Building. In my art history book it looked so mundane and it took me weeks of passing in front to realize that this elegant inviting space was THE SEAGRAMS BUILDING. The plaza in front is one of the finest spots in the city, with its fountains and dark green marble blocks that serve as benches. I did not photograph them because people were using them, some working, some resting, I didn't want to disturb. But this image gives the sense of the place.

And here

This building is right on Park Avenue with all the noise and traffic and yet it is peaceful.

Oh, and here is an arty picture of the fountain

I moved on to the General Electric Building whose brick was chosen to match the church across the street from the Seagram Building. Unfortunately, the GE Building was being renovated, so it was covered with scaffolding.

The beautiful top of the building with its tracery representing radio waves, the logo so many cool details were obscured. However here are some ground level radio waves

For those who believe that Art Deco is fascist art, I offer the base of the radio waves

That clenched fist is giving me a heavy international workers union feeling. Everybody liked Art Deco back then.

I wanted to offer a picture of the modern and wonderful Citicorp Center, but the policeman standing guard was forbidding. I love this spot with the three buildings from different eras, all fine examples within three blocks of one another.

Of course the most beautiful building of all is the Chrysler Building

Its silvery form floats on the horizon. Nothing can compare. If I could fly, I would go straight to its spire.

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