The Four Continents – a Close up

The Four Continents—four statues adorning the facade of the former United States Custom House—are allegorical representations of the four continents: Asia, America, Europe, and Africa. Created by Daniel Chester French, they represent the vision of Custom House architect Cass Gilbert, who chose the theme to represent the building’s main function—international commerce. Flanking the main entrance are…

NYC Landmarks in Numbers

Brooklyn Bridge Built 1869-1883 Length: almost 6,000 ft (1.8 km) Tower height above high water: 276 ft (84 m) Foundation depth below high water: Brooklyn – 44 ft (13 m), Manhattan – 78 ft (24 m) Supports 6 lanes of vehicles and a shared pedestrian and bicycle path.  Construction cost was $15.5 million 27 people…

New York History Timeline

The origins and colonial period 1525   Giovanni da Verrazano – the first European to see Manhattan – Giovanni da Verrazano was an Italian explorer in the service of King Francis I of France.He sailed into New York Harbor in 1524 in search of the Northwest Passage and was the first European to see Manhattan. Even though…

New York City Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers are defined as buildings over 150m/492ft tall “Supertall” skyscrapers are over 300m/984 ft Slender skyscraper is a building with a minimum width-to-height ratio of 1:10 Currently New York City has 297 skyscrapers (2nd to Hong Kong) Currently New York City has 17 “supertall” skyscrapers New York has a few slender skyscrapers and one slenderest skyscraper in the world…

The National Arts Club

The National Arts Club, founded in 1898 and originally located on 34th Street, was conceived as a gathering place for artists as well as art lovers and patrons. National Arts Club members included such luminaries as Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the foremost American sculptor of the late 19th century; Daniel Chester French, best known for his design…

Union Square Drinking Fountain

A female personification of Charity—a woman with two children holding a water pitcher—is not just a statue . . . it used to be a drinking fountain. One of the oldest in the NYC park system, the Union Square Drinking Fountain is also called James Fountain, reflecting the name of its donor, philanthropist Daniel Willis…

Hess Triangle — the smallest piece of private property in New York City

The tiny triangle in front of Village Cigars on Seventh Ave proudly displaying the words “Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated For Public Purposes” can easily be overlooked. Despite its small size, however, the triangle has a large story. In order to lay down new subway lines and extend 7th Ave…

The General Worth Monument—a gravesite in the middle of Broadway

The small pedestrian island bordered by 25th Street, Broadway, and 5th Avenue—where people regularly enjoy views of the Flatiron while reading, talking, sunbathing, or having a light snack—is actually a burial ground. The body of General Worth, hero of the Mexican War of 1846-1848, rests in peace under the obelisk. Most find their final resting…

Chester Arthur: the statue that kept losing its glasses

Sculptor: George Edwin BissellArchitect: James Brown LordDedicated: 1899 When serving as the 21st president of the United States, Chester Arthur exceeded all expectations. This was due in large part to the fact that nobody expected that much . . . One of the least-remembered presidents, he was known during his lifetime to be an exceptional…

William H. Seward Monument—it’s all about proportion

William H. Seward was a towering figure in 19th-century politics. Serving at different times as a senator, New York governor, and secretary of state (under Abraham Lincoln), he is credited with blocking the European recognition of the Confederacy as well as negotiating the anti-slave trade treaty with Great Britain, among other notable achievements. He was…

Tilden Mansion: Victorian facade and political scandal

Though Samuel Tilden failed to become an American president, he succeeded in creating a masterpiece of a home. While working as an attorney in 1863, Samuel J. Tilden purchased a home in Gramercy—the most fashionable area in town at the time. When he became governor of New York in 1874, he bought a mansion at…

Block Beautiful—Mediterranean in Manhattan

The perfect rhythm of adjacent brownstones forming one solid street facade define the character of 19th-century New York. These streets posses the romantic quality of the old New York and attract us with their stately yet reserved uniform presence. By the end of 19th century, however, their uniformity was loosing its charm and to some…