Vanderbilt’s Oak Leaves and Acorns at the Grand Central Terminal

The spectacular Grand Central Terminal owes its presence to Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of America’s first great tycoons and the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family, prominent during the Gilded Age. Cornelius Vanderbilt started his business when he launched a ferryboat service from Staten Island to Manhattan using a $100 loan from his mother. Vanderbilt’s operation eventually…

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.

Airship Docking Station on Top of the Empire State

If you’ve ever arrived in NYC via one of the major airports, you must have fantasized about landing miraculously in the middle of Manhattan instead. Turns out that such a seemingly ridiculous idea was once actually considered. In the late 20s it was believed that cross-Atlantic travel would soon be executed using zeppelins or dirigibles….

The Longest Survived Elevator Fall in History

The Empire State Building has more than a fair share of earth-shattering records: it was the tallest in the world for astounding 41 years and was built with the lightening speed of 410 days. Yet it has another lesser known but no less astonishing record:  it was the location of the longest survived elevator fall…

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…

Rocking Chair Riots of 1901 in Madison Square Park

New York City has seen its fair share of civil unrest. One of them, however unlikely, was caused by rocking chairs and took place in Madison Square Park. The upscale Madison Square Park neighborhood, located in front of the posh Fifth Avenue Hotel, teamed with elegantly dressed and well heeled elites. One day in 1901,…

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…

Federal Hall—over 300 years of American History

Imagine visiting the locations where America’s freedom of the press was born, the slogan that started American revolution—”no taxation without representation”—was declared, the Bill of Rights was penned, and George Washington took the oath of office to become the first president of the United States. But you don’t have to visit different places: all of…

Texas Guinan: New York’s most famous hostess and her Club Intime

“Hello, Suckers!” – this is the way you would have been greeted if you entered the club in its heyday in the 1920s. The greeting would have been delivered by the infamous Texas Guinan. Texas Guinan came from Texas (thus, the nickname) to take New York by storm. Starting as a simple showgirl she worked…

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…