Frank Lloyd Wright at The Plaza

While working on his last major project—the Guggenheim—Frank Lloyd Wright stayed at the Plaza. His impressive 4,000-square-foot corner suite there was his home from 1954 to 1959, the last six years of his life. The architect had been traveling to New York for business and pleasure for decades but was not shy in expressing his…

Saks Fifth Avenue: “a Guarantee of High Style”

The original Saks Fifth Avenue was not located on Fifth Avenue—and for that reason was not called “Saks Fifth Avenue.” Saks & Company opened its first department store in New York in 1902 at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street, calling it Saks & Co. Another retail giant, Gimbel’s, was located in the same area across…

Saks Fifth Avenue: the Story of Yeti and Snowflakes

The story of Yeti, the abominable snowman, gripped the world when the creature was reportedly spotted by various Himalayan expeditions in the 1920s. The seemingly indisputable evidence of its existence was produced on an expedition to Mount Everest in the 1950s in the form of a photograph of a giant footprint. But the elusive creature was…

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Christmas tree is indisputably one of the world’s most recognizable sites. Its lighting ceremony in early December marks the beginning of New York’s holiday season and its sparkling presence throughout the holidays makes the city magical. In 1931, construction workers building the Rockefeller Center pooled together some money for a Christmas tree. It…

Black and White Ball – a Work of Art by Truman Capote

On November 28, 1966, Truman Capote hosted “a little masked ball” for 540 of his closest friends. The event, held at the venerable Plaza Hotel ballroom, went down in history as the Party of the Century. Though hailed as the greatest party ever thrown, it was also shamed for its over-the-top exuberance in the context…

Rockefeller Center – a City Within a City

Strangely enough, the story of Rockefeller Center starts with that of the Metropolitan Opera. The Met, located at the time on Broadway and 39th, needed a bigger space. The land around 49th Street behind 5th Ave belonged to Columbia University and seemed like an ideal new place for the opera house. As the wheels of…

The Guggenheim – “unlike any other museum in the world”

Solomon R. Guggenheim, a businessman, art collector, and part-heir to a great mining fortune, began collecting abstract art in the 1920s. After retiring from his business endeavors, he became a full-time art collector, focusing specifically on modern and contemporary art. In order to display his collection, he founded the Museum of Non-Objective Painting in 1939. The collection,…

How the Metropolitan Museum was Born

On July 4, 1866, while celebrating America’s Independence Day in Paris, a group of American businessmen, financiers, artists, and thinkers of the day decided that New York City needed its own art museum. Thus, the idea of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was born. After four years of discussions in which American civic leaders, art…

Diego Rivera’s Rockefeller Center Mural

Diego Rivera, a prominent Mexican painter and giant of 20th century art, was commissioned by the Rockefellers to create a monumental fresco for the lobby of the newly-built RCA building, the largest structure of Rockefeller Center. The mural was to be titled, laconically, “Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the…

Victory Arch – the Last Temporary Triumphal Arch in Madison Square

The Victory Arch was located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway between 24th and 25th streets and stood there from 1918 to 1920. Even though World War I did not officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, the combat had stopped on November 11, 1918, when the…

Lost Triumphal Arches of New York

Several triumphal arches were erected in New York City for public celebrations. It’s hard to imagine that most of them were temporary, standing only for short periods of time. Perhaps it’s symbolic of New York,  the agile and ever-changing metropolis, to build such grandiose structures only to be destroyed. Three temporary arches in New York…