Friday

Top Attractions of New York City - Chrysler Building

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the race for the world's tallest building started in earnest with several developers in New York vying for the coveted title. The Chrysler Building was the first building to top the then tallest structure, the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 
Chrysler-Building


Chrysler Building

New York would keep the tallest building in the world until 1974, when the Sears Tower was built in Chicago.


A race for the tallest building


For Walter P. Chrysler, from the car manufacturer, building the tallest building in the world was a status symbol. The Chrysler Building was in a race with the Bank of Manhattan (now 40 Wall Street) for obtaining the title of tallest building in the world. It looked like the Bank of Manhattan would win the race, with an expected height of 282 meters (927ft) to around 230 meters for the Chrysler Building. But the spire of the Chrysler Building was constructed in secret inside the tower. 
Chrysler-Building-Art-Deco-Entrance


Art Deco Entrance
Chrysler-Building-Gargoyle

Gargoyle
Chrysler-Building-The spire

The spire
Just one week after the Bank of Manhattan had topped out, the spire of the Chrysler Building was put in place, making it 318 meters (1045ft) tall, thus beating the Bank of Manhattan as the tallest building in the world. It would not keep this title for long: one year later the Empire State Building was erected.


Art Deco


The Chrysler building is one of the last skyscrapers in the Art Deco style. The gargoyles depict Chrysler car ornaments and the spire is modeled on a radiator grille. Since it was restored in 1996 it glitters again like it must have in the 1930s.

And the building's Art Deco interior is even more magnificent than its exterior. The marble floors and many Art Deco patterns such as on the stylish elevator doors make the Chrysler Building one of New York's most beautiful office towers.


Popularity


The building's design by architect William van Alen was largely dismissed by contemporary architecture critics, who claimed the spire's design was kitsch and the tower nothing more than a folly.

But ever since its construction the popularity of the building has grown constantly, both among New Yorkers and architecture critics. It is now regarded as one of America's greatest buildings, and the Chrysler Building is often featured on the cover of architectural books and magazines.

Monday

Top Attractions Of London - Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is a busy square in the heart of London. It is famous for the fountain that was installed here at the end of the nineteenth century and for the neon advertising that turned the square into a miniature version of Times Square
 
Piccadilly-Circus

Piccadilly-Circus
 
 
Piccadilly-Circus
 
 
Piccadilly-Circus
 
Piccadilly Circus
 
 
The Circus lies at the intersection of five main roads: Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Street, Covent Street and Haymarket. It was created by John Nash as part of the future King George IV's plan to connect Carlton House - where the Prince Regent resided - with Regent's Park.

Billboards

The creation of Shaftesbury Avenue in 1885 turned the plaza into a busy traffic junction. This made Piccadilly Circus attractive for advertisers, who installed London's first illuminated billboards here in 1895. For some time the plaza was surrounded by billboards, creating London's version of Times Square, but currently only one building still carries large (mostly electronic) displays.
 
 
 
Eros-statue
Eros statue

Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain

At the center of the Circus stands the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. It was built in 1893 to commemorate Lord Shaftesbury, a philanthropist known for his support of the poor.
The seminude statue on top of the fountain depicts the Angel of Christian Charity but was later renamed Eros after the Greek god of love and beauty. The fountain was made in bronze, but the statue is made of aluminum, at the time a novel and rare material.

Piccadilly

The name 'Piccadilly' originates from a seventeenth-century frilled collar

named piccadil. Roger Baker, a tailor who became rich making piccadils lived in the area. The word 'Circus' refers to the roundabout around which the traffic circulated. 
 
 
 
Piccadilly-Circus-night
The Circus at night

Piccadilly Circus Today

Piccadilly Circus is now partly pedestrianized and a favorite place for people to congregate before going to the nearby shopping and entertainment areas. Soho, Chinatown, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square are all within walking distance.

Sunday

Top Attractions of New York City - Wall Street

Wall Street is one of the world's most famous streets. Historically known as the center of New York's financial district, Wall Street is often associated with wealth and ambition in America.

How It Got Its Name

Wall-Street


Wall-Street


Wall Street
NYSE


NYSE
40 Wall Street street view

40 Wall Street

After the Dutch purchased "New Amsterdam" from the Native Americans, a palisade was erected that formed the northern boundary of the new colony. The first "walls" along the street were basic plank fences, but as time passed and tensions grew, a stronger, taller wall was built in order to defend the colony against both the British and the American Indians tribes that still dominated the area. In 1685, after the original palissade was torn down and replaced with a new wall, a new street was created parallel with the wall, aptly named Wall Street. The British removed the defensive wall in 1699.


How It Got Its Reputation


Records show that in the years after the Revolutionary War, traders and speculators would gather under a particular buttonwood tree that sat at the foot of Wall Street. They soon formed The Buttonwood Association (1792), which is believed to be the roots of the New York Stock Exchange, whose headquarters has been located on Wall Street for centuries.


Buildings along Wall Street


By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Wall Street was "the place" to be if you were a large financial institution or other big business. So many buildings sprung up on this tip of Manhattan that the Wall Street district began to boast its own distinct skyline, separate from the buildings in Midtown.

People like J.P Morgan built headquarters like the one at 23 Wall Street, which was - for decades - the most important financial institution in the country. (One can still see the pockmarks on the building, left there from an unsolved bombing that occurred in 1920.)

Other notable buildings include the columned Federal Hall, originally built to house City Hall and its offices. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Building is also quite grand, built by George B. Post in a neoclassical style 
Federal-Hall-Wall-Street


Federal Hall
Charging-Bull-Wall-Street


Charging Bull
that earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Equally as notable is the ornate 40 Wall Street, once home to the Bank of Manhattan.


The Charging Bull Statue


One of the Financial District's most famous symbols is the 'Charging Bull' Statue (The bull represents a bull market, a constantly rising market).

Inspired by the stock market crash in 1987, sculptor Arturo Di Modica created the 7,000-pound (3175kg) bull statue as a token of optimism. In 1989 he placed it - without authorisation - in front of the New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street. Police removed the statue but thanks to a public outcry it was reinstalled, but this time on Bowling Green, a small square annex park near Wall Street. The statue has become one of Lower Manhattan's most popular attractions.

Monday

Top Attractions of New York City - Grand Central Terminal ( Station )

Grand Central Terminal is one of two magnificent train stations that were built in New York in the heyday of railway transportation. The other, Penn Station, was demolished in the 1960s. 
 
Grand-Central-Terminal
 
Grand Central TerminalGrand-Central-Terminal-Interior

Interior
 
Grand-Central-Terminal-Cornelius-Vanderbilt
 Cornelius Vanderbilt
 
Grand-Central-Terminal-Side-Entrance

Side Entrance
 
The monumental railway station was constructed in 1903-1913 for the New York and Harlem Railroad company. It is a grand Beaux-Arts building which serves as a transportation hub connecting train, metro, car and pedestrian traffic in an efficient way. It has 67 train tracks on two different levels.

Penn Station

The other, even grander railway station - Penn Station - was built in 1902-1911 after a design by Charles McKim. In an act of vandalism, the monumental landmark - which was modeled on the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome - was destroyed in 1963-1966 and replaced by a banal railway station and office tower.

Grand Central Terminal almost suffered a similar fate but thanks to New York City's new landmark preservation laws - implemented in part thanks to the outcry over the demolition of Penn Station, the building was able to escape the wrecking ball.

The First Grand Central Station

The current Grand Central Terminal was not the first railway station at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. As early as in 1863 Cornelius Vanderbilt, known as 'the Commodore' consolidated railroad lines including the Harlem Railroad and New York Central Railroad. As a result of the consolidation the need for a large railway station soon became apparent.

In 1869, Vanderbilt commissioned architect John B. Snook to build the largest railway station in the world on a large property at 42nd Street. The resulting station, named Grand Central Station, featured a large glass and steel train shed, 650ft long, 200ft wide and 100ft high (198 x 60 x 30 meters). But increasing traffic and the smoke from the steam engines obscured vision in the Park Avenue tunnel, causing an accident in 1902. Seventeen people were killed and a public outcry called for electrification of the railway system. This resulted in a new state law requiring that steam engines would not be allowed in Manhattan, starting in 1910.

A New Railway Station

Shortly after the accident, the New York Central Railroad proposed plans for a new, larger Grand Central Station. The costly electrification and construction of the new railway station was compensated by the use of air rights: Electrification made it possible for the tracks to be covered and paved over all the way to 49th Street. Developers were allowed to construct buildings on top of it, but had to pay an extra sum to the railway company, the so-called air rights. Even the air on top of low-level buildings can be sold this way so that taller neighboring buildings are allowed.

In 1903 a competition was held for the design of the new Grand Central. The firm of Reed and Stem was chosen. William K. Vanderbilt II, one of the descendants of the 'Commodore' 
Grand-Central-Terminal-
 
Elevated road separating
cars from pedestrians
Grand-Central-Terminal-Underground-corridor
 
Underground corridor
Grand-Central-Terminal-Hercules-Mercurius-Minerva
 
Hercules, Mercurius and Minerva
Grand-Central-Terminal-The-Main-Concourse

The Main Concourse
 
asked Warren and Wetmore to collaborate with Reed and Stem. While the latter were responsible for the overall design and layout, Warren and Wetmore were responsible for the architectural details and Beaux-Arts style.

Terminal City

The project included not just the new railway station, but a whole complex with office buildings and apartments, which became known as 'Terminal City'. This was a 'city in the city' complex, similar to the concept of Rockefeller Center, created several decades later. Special attention was paid to the circulation of traffic. Pedestrians and cars are separated by special elevated ramps - the so-called Park Avenue Viaduct - which lead the cars around the railway station.

Construction of the new station, now known as Grand Central Terminal, lasted ten years and cost eighty million dollars. In the process, 180 buildings between 42nd and 50th Street, including hospitals and churches, were demolished. The railway station officially opened on Sunday February 2, 1913. But it would last until 1927 before the station was fully operational.

A Grand Design

The building's facade on 42nd Street has a true Beaux-Arts design. Large arches flanked by Corinthian columns are topped by a large sculpture group designed by Jules-Alexis Coutan. The 50ft / 15m high group depicts Mercury (the god of commerce) supported by Minerva and Hercules (representing mental and moral strength). 
 
Grand-Central-Terminal-Ceiling-Painting
Ceiling Painting
 
Grand-Central-Terminal-Central-Clock
Central Clock
 
Grand-Central-Terminal-Chandelier
Chandelier
 
Inside, the main concourse is most impressive. It is 470ft long, 160ft wide and 150ft high (143 x 49 x 43 meters). The ceiling was painted by the French artist Paul Helleu. The design with zodiac constellations was taken from a medieval manuscript. It is painted backwards, alledgedly so that the stars are shown as they would be seen by god, not by man.

Light enters the main concourse through six 75ft / 23m high arched windows. The western double staircase in Botticino marble was designed after the large staircase in the Opera Garnier in Paris. It connects the main concourse with the entrance on Vanderbilt Avenue. The floor of the concourse is of Tennessee marble, the walls of Caen stone.

Redevelopment

In 1994, the firms of LaSalle Partners and Williams Jackson Ewing were chosen by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to redevelop Grand Central Terminal.

The firms were chosen for their successful renovation of another Beaux-Arts icon, the Union Station in Washington DC.
The MTA's goal was to increase revenue while restoring the building's former grandeur. This was achieved by renovating the large public areas, removing former alterations (like lowered ceilings), adding a new entrance and creating a retail mall and food court, similar to the renovation project in Washington DC.

During the 197 million dollar restoration process, a large iron eagle was added on top of the new Lexington Avenue & 43rd Street entrance. This eagle once adorned the first Grand Central Station in 1898.

Sunday

Top Attractions of New York City - Central Park

Central Park is one of those places that make New York such a great place to live. The huge park, 341 hectare large (843 acres), is located in the center of Manhattan. Its design has served as an example for city parks around the world.
New-York-City-Central-Park
 


The park boasts several lakes, theaters, ice rinks, fountains, tennis courts, baseball fields, many playgrounds and other facilities. It is also home to the Central Park Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Especially during the weekends, when cars are not allowed into the park, Central Park is a welcome oasis in this hectic city.

History

Conception

New-York-City-Central-Park

 

When the terrain for Central Park was bought by the City of New York in 1853, it was faraway from civilization, somewhere between the City of New York and the village Harlem. The area contained sheds from colonists, quarries, pig farms and swamps.

In 1857, the city of New York organized a competition for the design of this new park, which had to rival with the great parks in London and Paris. A design by Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, named 'the Greensward Plan' was chosen. 
New-York-City-Central-Park
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
 
 
This plan featured an English style landscape with large meadows, several lakes and hills. Winding pedestrian roads were separated from main roads and the huge number of trees ensured the city's buildings were not visible from within the park.

Creation

To convert the swampy area into the park the designers had envisioned, several hundred thousand trees were planted, more than 3 million cubic yards of soil was moved, roads and bridges were constructed and a large reservoir was dug out. It took more than 15 years before the 20,000 workers had completed the park. 
 
New-York-City-Central-Park
The Lake
 
 
Central Park immediately became a popular place for all New Yorkers, attracting millions of visitors each year.

From Relaxation to Recreation

Frederic Law Olmstead's goal was to create a place where people could relax and meditate. He saw the park as a kind of social experiment where people from both upper and lower classes would meet, a rather revolutionary idea at that time.

After the appointment of Robert Moses in 1934 as New York City Parks Commissioner, the focus of the park shifted from relaxation to recreation. 
 
New-York-City-Central-Park
Small bridge at The Pond
 
 
During Moses's 26 year tenure he constructed many sports facilities, playgrounds and the Wollman rink. He also renovated the Zoo, and installed several sculptures including 'Alice in Wonderland '.

Decline and renovation

After the departure of Moses in 1960, Central park started to decline. Graffiti, garbage and criminality kept both citizens and tourists from visiting the park. In the 1970s the park became a symbol of New York City's decline.
 
New-York-City-Central-Park

Rowboats at The Lake
 
The tide started to turn in 1980 when a group of citizens created the Central Park Conservancy. Together with the city, it started a 50 million dollar renovation project. Several parts of the park, including Sheep Meadow and Bethesda Terrace were restored. Three employees were hired to remove the graffiti - it took them three years to complete this task. Criminality was reduced with the deployment of a large police force.
 
New-York-City-Central-Park
Balto Statue
 
Thanks to these efforts by both the city and private groups, Central Park is now a relatively clean and safe place, visited by more than 30 million people each year.

Sights & Attractions

There's plenty to see and do in Central Park. Sports facilities can be found all over the park but most of the interesting sights are found in the lower half of Central Park. You'll come across historical buildings, statues, monuments, beautiful bridges, and of course plenty of nature. Some of it is quite rugged like the forest-like Ramble while other parts of the park are more manicured and feature beautiful flowers and shrubs.
 
New-York-City-Central-Park
Merchants' Gate
 
 
There are eighteen gated entrances to the park. Each of them has its own name. Several of these gates are ornate such as the Vanderbilt Gate, Engineers' Gate and in particular Merchants' Gate at Columbus Circle.

Central Park Zoo

Many people enter the via the Scholars' Gate at Grand Army Plaza, near Fifth Avenue, which leads to a nice pond with a beautiful stone bridge. More to the north is one of the park's most popular attractions: Central Park Zoo. The zoo has exhibits divided into several regions such as a tropic zone and polar circle. Some of its popular residents include polar bears, snow leopards, red pandas and penguins. Just north of the Central Park Zoo is the Tisch Children's Zoo, where small children can see and touch domestic animals.

Dairy

West of the Central Park Zoo is the Dairy, a Victorian style cottage created in 1870. The picturesque building houses a Visitor Center where you can get maps, guides, gifts, and information on events that are planned in Central Park. The Dairy is located at a former pasture, where cows grazed to provide fresh milk for the city's children, hence the name of the building.

Bethesda Terrace

New-York-City-Central-Park
Bethesda Fountain and Terrace
 
The Mall, a wide boulevard lined with American elm trees, brings you from the Dairy to the Bethesda Terrace, one of Central Park's architectural highlights. The terrace has a central covered arcade flanked by two staircases that lead to a plaza. The focal point of the plaza is the Bethesda Fountain, installed here in 1873. The fountain's statue, Angel of the Waters, was created in 1842 by Emma Stebbins to commemorate the opening of the Croton water system, which for the first time provided New York with clean water. Bethesda Terrace overlooks The Lake and the Loeb Boathouse, where you can rent rowing boats or even a gondola.

Statues

New-York-City-Central-Park
Alice in Wonderland
 
Remote controlled model boat enthusiasts head to the Conservatory Water, a pond situated east of The Lake. There are two statues near the pond that are very popular with children. At the west side of the pond stands a statue of Hans Christian Andersen while a sculpture group of Alice in Wonderland and her friends can be found just north of the Conservatory Water. Children love to climb on the giant mushroom. Another famous statue in Central Park shows Balto, a Siberian Husky sled dog who in 1925 helped transport medicine across Alaska to deliver a serum necessary to stop a deadly outbreak of diphtheria.

Sheep Meadow and Great Lawn

Just west of the Mall is one of Central Park's largest open spaces: Sheep Meadow, an expansive pasture popular in summertime with sunbathers. The Great Lawn, more to the north and at the geographical center of Central Park, is even larger. The oval lawn, created in 1937, often plays host to free summer concerts.

Metropolitan Museum and Cleopatra's Needle

New-York-City-Central-Park
Cleopatra's Needle
 
The most important monument in Central Park is Cleopatra's Needle, an authentic Egyptian obelisk, located east of the Great Lawn. The 20 meter tall granite obelisk was originally erected at Heliopolis and later moved to Alexandria. In the mid 19th century it was donated to the US as a gift from Egypt.
The obelisk stands near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the world's most important museums, with an enormous collection of artwork from all continents, covering a period from prehistory to today.

Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Fields is a memorial garden situated near the entrance to Central Park at W 72nd Street. It was created in honor of John Lennon, who was shot dead in front of the Dakota Apartments, where he lived. The tear-shaped garden was dedicated in 1985 as a garden of peace. It is named after a Beatles song written by John Lennon. 
New-York-City-Central-Park
 
Strawberry Fields Mosaic
 
The famous mosaic with the word Imagine (another Lennon song) was a gift from the city of Naples in Italy.

Bow Bridge and Ramble

There are many bridges in Central Park - each with a unique design. One of the most interesting in the 18 meter (60 ft) long cast-iron Bow Bridge, that spans The Lake between Cherry Hill near the Bethesda Terrace and the Ramble, a 15 hectare (38 acre) large woodland. Here Central Park is at its most natural, with narrow paths winding through thickets of trees. This is a popular place for bird-watching: the Ramble is on a trans-Atlantic migration route and more than 250 different bird species have been spotted here.

Belvedere Castle

New-York-City-Central-Park

Belvedere Castle
 
Just north of the Ramble is the Belvedere Castle, situated at the highest point in the park. The castle was created in 1869 as a lookout tower after a design by Calvert Vaux. The tower overlooks Turtle Pond, named for the many turtles that live here.

Shakespeare Garden

Shakespeare Garden was created in 1913 as the Garden of the Heart. Three years later, on the 300th anniversary of the Shakespeare's death, it was dedicated to the famous play writer. The garden contains plants that were mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. Stairs connect the garden with the Swedish Cottage, a replica of a Swedish school from the 19th century. It was transported to Philadelphia on the occasion of the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 and it eventually ended up here in New York's Central Park.

Conservatory Garden

New-York-City-Central-Park

Conservatory Garden
 
The upper part of Central Park is less visited and there are also less interesting sights. One major exception is the Conservatory Garden, the only garden in Central Park with a formal layout. It is divided into three sections: a central Italianate garden flanked by a French-style garden to the north and an English-style garden to the south. The gardens are adorned with several beautiful fountains, including "Three Dancing Maidens", created in 1910 by the German sculptor Walter Schott.

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center

Further up north, bordering Harlem, is Harlem Meer, one of the largest lakes in Central Park. The pretty Victorian-style building near the lake is much younger than it looks: it was built in 1993. It is home to the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, an environmental educational center targeting families and children.

Friday

Top Attractions of New York City - Times Square

Times Square, the most bustling square of New York is known for its many Broadway theatres, cinemas and electronic billboards. It is one of those places that make New York a city that never sleeps.

History

Times-Square
Times Square

At the end of the 19th century, New York City had expanded up to 42nd street and the area was becoming the center of the city's social scene. In 1904, the New York Times built the Times Tower on 43rd street just off Broadway to replace its downtown premises. The square in front of the building was called Longacre square, but was soon renamed Times Square. The name is now used for the area between 40th and 53rd street and 6th and 9th avenue.


New York Times Headquarters


The inauguration of the New York Times' new headquarters at 1 Times Square was celebrated with a fireworks display, starting a New Year's Eve tradition which still continues today. 

Times-Square-Billboards


Billboards
The first famous ball-lowering from the 1 Times Square's rooftop pole was held on New Year's Eve 1907.


Theater District and Billboards


At the start of the First World War, Times Square was the center of the Theater District and attracted a large number of visitors. This made the square an ideal place for billboards. In 1917 the first large electric display billboard was installed. Eleven years later, the first running electric sign was lit for the first time, to announce Herbert Hoover's victory in the Presidential elections. The billboards have become such a tourist attraction for the area, that the zoning now requires the buildings to be covered with billboards!


Decline


Times-Square-at-night

Times-Square-at-night

Times-Square-at-night
Times Square at night

In the thirties, the Great Depression led to a sharp decline in theater attendance. Many businesses had to close down, and they were quickly replaced by strip teases and and peep shows. The area continued to attract visitors though and after the Second World War, the Theater District was booming again. At the end of the sixties, the area started to go downhill and by the mid-seventies, tourists avoided Times square, which had become a seedy, crime-ridden and drug-infested place.


Disneyfication


In the 1980s redevelopment proposals were submitted, with little result. This changed a decade later, when the Walt Disney Company opened a Disney store on Times Square. This attracted more family-friendly businesses to the area, leading to a so-called 'Disneyfication'. The area was now - like most of New York City - a lot safer than in the early nineties and Times Square once again became a magnet for tourists and a center of New York's social scene.


Times Square Today


Today Times Square is a constantly buzzing tourist magnet; the square is even one of the most visited places in the world.


Pedestrianization

 

Times-Square-Pedestrianized-area
Pedestrianized area
For most of its existence Times Square wasn't much more than a large traffic intersection, but it is now being redeveloped into a pedestrian-friendly square with large car-free plazas replacing much of the asphalt. The redevelopment project - dubbed Times Square Transformation - started in 2012 and is expected to be completed in 2016.


Entertainment

Times-Square

 



Many people come to Times Square for the ambiance and the billboards spectacle, but there are also many restaurants and shops - well over 100 - in the area including some crowd-pullers such as the Disney Store and a large Toys"R"Us. But Times Square is best known for its entertainment, and plenty of visitors come here to attend a Broadway show. Times Square is also home to MTV's headquarters and ABC's 'Good Morning America' is broadcast in front of a live audience from its office at 44th and Broadway.


Paramount Building and Visitors Center

Times-Square-Paramount-Building


Paramount Building


The most famous building at the square is undoubtedly the iconic Paramount Building. The building was home to the Paramount theater where stars such as Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra performed in their heyday. Unfortunately the theater was demolished and the Paramount building is now merely an office tower.
Another former theater, the Embassy Theater, is now the home of Times Square's own visitors center. Here you can get information about events and Broadway shows. There's also a small museum that tells the history of Times Square.
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