Thursday, March 22, 2012

Iconic Buildings in New York City


New York Skyline from Central Park
The last few days in New York City have shaken off my winter blues. It feels like summer. Spring is definitely in the air.

When I'm walking around New York, I particularly enjoy the architecture. When you think of iconic buildings, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building certainly come to mind. However, there are many significant buildings in New York that are also worth a visit. Here are some of my favorites.   

The Ansonia

The Ansonia is located on the Upper West Side at 2109 Broadway, between 73rd and 74th Streets. Erected between 1899 and 1904, the Ansonia was NYC's first air-conditioned hotel. It's designed in the Beaux-Arts style with a mansard roof and turrets. Babe Ruth, Theodore Dreiser, Enrico Caruso, Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, and Eric McCormack have all lived at the Ansonia.

In the 1960s, the building was scheduled for demolition, but thanks to its residents and concerned citizens, the Ansonia was saved. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Ansonia housed the infamous gay bathhouse, the Continental Baths, where Bette Midler and Barry Manilow got their start. 

Today, the Ansonia is a condominium. The TD Bank located on the ground floor plays a short video, which covers the history of the Ansonia. Try and visit the Ansonia's lobby by discretely entering on the 74th street side. There's an interesting display of Ansonia memorabilia. 


The Dorilton
The Dorilton is located at 171 West 71st Street, at Broadway. While taking a picture of the Ansonia, a man came up to me and started talking about historic buildings in the neighborhood. His favorite Beaux-Arts building is the Dorilton. Built in limestone and brick, with sculptures, wonderful balustraded balconies, and a slate mansard roof, the Dorilton is one NYC's most flamboyant buildings. It turns out that this man was a real expert on NYC architecture. A lifelong resident of the city, his enthusiasm for the Dorilton rubbed off on me. I'm a convert. I love this building. 



A View of the Eldorado from the J.K.Onassis Reservoir

The Eldorado at 300 Central Park West, on the Upper West Side is my favorite example of the Art Deco in NYC. It was was constructed between 1929 and 1931 and fills the entire block front between West 90th and West 91st Street. Residents of the Eldorado have included Alec Baldwin, Fay Dunaway, Moby, and Sinclair Lewis. Its futuristic detailing and geometric spires have been likened to a Flash Gordon movie set of the 1930s. 


The Dakota
I remember reading about the Dakota in Jack Finney's wonderful science fiction novel,Time and Again. As a teenager, I was fascinated with this building and its history.

The Dakota also has a dark side. The building was the home of John Lennon and was the location of his murder in 1980. Yoko Ono still has several apartments in the building and each year on the anniversary of John's death, she lights a candle that is displayed in the window. 


Flatiron Building
The Dakota was constructed between 1880 and 1884. It's located on the corner of 72th Street and Central Park West in the Upper West Side. It's designed in the German Renaissance style.



The Flatiron Building is located at 175 Fifth Avenue. It's an excellent example of early skyscraper architecture. When it was completed in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city. Its name derives from its resemblance to an iron (the kind you press clothes with). It's been used as a backdrop for numerous movies, TV shows and commercials. After the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, the Flatiron is one of NYC's most famous buildings.



The first time I ever visited New York, in 1979, for a job interview, I stayed at the Olcott Hotel. It may not be one of NYC's iconic buildings, but it has a special place in my heart. 


Located a few buildings down from the Dakota, the Olcott was a pre-war building that included all the latest amenities when it was completed in 1930. By the time I stayed at the Olcott, it was worn around the edges and was showing its age. Nevertheless, I enjoyed its character and flair, even the roaches didn't bother me. (I was young then.) In 2006, it was converted into luxury condos.


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