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…

Ukrainian Institute/Fletcher House/Sinclair Mansion

One of New York City’s most impressive turn-of-the-century structures—located on 5th Avenue at 79th Street—houses the Ukrainian Institute. The mansion was built in 1899 for Isaac D. Fletcher—businessman, art collector and museum benefactor. It was designed in the elaborate Châteauesque style by C.P.H. Gilbert, who was known for many notable palatial residences for the wealthy. Châteauesque, inspired by the 16th…

New York City Hall

The first city hall in Manhattan was built the mid-17th century by the Dutch. It was located in the City Tavern on Pearl Street and served beer. The city’s second city hall, built at the beginning of 18th century by the British, stood on Wall Street. After the British were gone and New York City…

St. Thomas—Medieval Church on 5th Avenue

The St. Thomas church we now see is not the first St. Thomas on 5th Avenue. Its predecessor, St. Thomas by Richard Upjohn, stood on the same spot from 1870 to 1905. Nestled among 5th Avenue’s most spectacular Gilded Age mansions, it was the parish of the wealthiest—where the Vanderbilts themselves came to worship. The…

Marble Palace—the First Department Store in the Nation

A.T. Stewart, an Irish immigrant with a genius for commerce, is credited with the invention of modern day shopping. He came up with such groundbreaking concepts as ready-to-wear clothes, garment displays in store windows, and clearly marked price-tags. He was the first to offer his customers fixed prices, eliminating the undignified process of bargaining. He…

Grand Central Terminal—a Beaux-Arts Masterpiece

Grand Central Terminal, built in 1913 to replace a previous outdated structure, stands as a grandiose Beaux-Arts edifice. Beaux-Arts, the academic architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris during the 1830s-90s, was based on the aesthetic principles of neoclassicism. It became popular in America as a result of the City Beautiful movement,…

Salamanders on 7th Avenue

The elaborate facade of Alwyn Court—the most ornate in the city—is encrusted with terra-cotta ornaments such as flowers, urns, crests, and salamanders wearing crowns and breathing fire. Over the centuries salamanders have acquired a special place in folklore as mystical creatures who are resurrected from ashes and get re-born from the fire. While not exactly…

Grace Church—Marble, Talent, and Nepotism

The earliest example of Gothic Revival architecture in New York City, it was the very first commission of James Renwick Jr., who went on to design St. Patrick’s Cathedral and earn his place as one of America’s most prominent architects.

Integrity Presiding over the New York Stock Exchange

The group within the pediment over the New York Stock Exchange is entitled “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man,” which makes it fair to assume that the central female figure in the sculpture is Integrity herself. She is tasked with “Protecting the Works of Man”—with Industry on one side and Agriculture on the other. The…

Trinity Church — on Wall Street since 17th century

The present day Trinity Church—a glorious Neo-Gothic edifice—is the third church built on the same exact spot. The original Trinity Church, built in 1698, was the first Anglican Church in the city. His majesty King William III granted Trinity a royal charter at the cost of 1 peppercorn a year, allowing it to function as…