The Waldorf-Astoria: hyphenated hotel and a family scandal

Most family scandals don’t result in hotel construction. However, the famed Waldorf-Astoria owes its existence to the Astor family quarrel. The Astor fortune was divided between two branches of the Astor family headed by the two grandsons of the dynasty founder – John Jacob Astor III and William Backhouse Astor, Jr. Each of them had…

Audrey Munson – American Venus

  There are many rags to riches stories in the American experience, as well as the stories of falling from grace and losing fortunes. But out of all of them – hers was the most bizarre. Her name was Audrey Munson. The name was forgotten, but her likeness, cast in granite, bronze, and marble, is…

Owls in Manhattan

James Gordon Bennett Jr. was obsessed. His obsession was quite unusual – it was owls. Some of them, with flickering eyes, can be seen on Herald Square, guarding James Gordon Bennett Monument. Herald Square takes its name from the New York Herald, a newspaper founded by James Gordon Bennett Sr and inherited by Gordon Bennett…

Evelyn Nesbit and “the Trial of the Century”

The premiere of “Mam’zelle Champagne” did not go well. Despite the lovely songs and beautiful ingenues, the show was simply a bore. The performance took place on the rooftop of Madison Square Garden – a lavish venue designed by Stanford White, an accomplished architect and a socialite about town. That fateful night the famous architect…

Edwin Booth, the Hamlet of New York

In the center of Gramercy Park, there is a statue. It depicts an actor in the role of Hamlet, forever contemplating “To Be or Not To Be”. This actor is Edwin Booth. One of the great American Shakespearean actors of the 19th century, he was particularly famous for his signature role of Hamlet. In 1864…

Margaret Bourke-White and the Chrysler

It’s practically impossible not to photograph the Chrysler Building. Most people achieve it standing on the ground, looking up… However, some striking photos were taken from the dizzying heights of the glistening Chrysler crown. While the Chrysler was being erected to be the tallest in the world – a typical requirement for a skyscraper in…

Jefferson Market Library

The striking High Victorian Gothic building doesn’t just look beautiful… it’s certifiably beautiful. In 1885 Jefferson Market was voted as one of the 10 most beautiful buildings in the United States by a national poll of architects! Location: 425 6th Ave Built: 1873-77 Architects: Frederick Clarke Withers and Calvert Vaux Originally known as the Jefferson Market Courthouse,…

Little Church Around the Corner

A tranquil church with a peaceful courtyard in the heart of Midtown is known by its nickname – the “Little Church around the corner.” Location: 1 East 29th Street Founded: 1848 Architect: Frederick Clarke Withers Tucked away behind a serene courtyard, the Church of the Transfiguration is an unexpected oasis amid the hustle and bustle…