Architectural Highlights Tour of New York City
NYC has many spectacular architectural styles and landmarked neighborhoods. However, whether you are a Neo-Gothic geek or a romantic over Romanesque, we can show you around town and explain the differences between friezes and bas-reliefs, from mansard roofs to rusticated stone. From our oldest surviving colonial church – St. Pauls Chapel (1766) and its Episcopalian brethren Trinity Church to the French Renaissance Revival City Hall (1812). There’s the grand beauty of Beaux Arts New York Public Library at 42nd Street, and everyone’s favorite: Art Deco Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building and the magnificent Chrysler Building.
LUNY! Guides Kristin and Tomas at the Beaux-Arts
New York Public Library at 42nd street
Why So Tall?
New York needs to build tall. From the first windmill of New Amsterdam in the 17th century to the New World Trade Center to be completed by 2019, the island of Manhattan has been a veritable cauldron of construction. To understand how we’ve developed so many fascinating, beautiful and awe inspiring buildings you must understand how New Yorkers utilize space.
The island of Manhattan is tiny: approximately 12 miles long and 2 1/2 miles wide at its widest point. That’s 23 square miles in total. It’s got a population of 1.6 million people for a population density of 70,000 people per square mile (the densest urban place in America). On a typical weekday, commuters and visitors swell Manhattan’s population to four million. So we really didn’t have a choice but to build: Apartments, office and commerical buildings, department stores, schools and universities, courthouses, medical facilities all had to fit onto this crowded island.
Beaux-Arts Beauty Lost
Pennsylvania Station: Lost to “Progress”
A fervent landmarks preservation movement in the 1960s that was spurred by the demolition of the magnificent Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Station has helped to preserve many of New York’s most notable, historic and architecturally significant structures and neighborhoods.
The Cathedral of Commerce
New York is commonly known as the melting pot, and it’s no different in the world of architecture. In an attempt to distinguish themselves, architects are constantly working in bold strokes. Take the Woolworth Building for example. Who thought that the tallest building in the world might take the shape of a magnificent Gothic tower? And made out of limestone at that!
A bas-relief is artwork that’s carved into the building
Sometimes tradition takes hold, like in the perfectly classic Greek revival styling of Federal Hall or the Neo-Roman New York Stock Exchange building, a veritable temple to the gods of commerce. But sometimes tradition is seized and drilled like a jackhammer into an entire section of the city! Rockefeller Center is a playground for Art Deco fans. Gaze at the slender towers that draw the eye up to the Top of the Rock and feast on the angular bas-reliefs that majestically grace the fronts and sides of each building in this massive complex.
The old and the new
O. Henry once said “New York would be a wonderful city…if they ever finish it!” and that’s one thing we’re strangely proud of. Some cities have that “frozen in amber” feel to it, but we’re constantly fixing up, rehabilitating and building anew. From the 19th century warehouses of Chelsea that are now cutting edge studio spaces and hotels to the Platinum LEED (Leader of Energy Efficient Development) skyscrapers of midtown, we’re always looking ahead. And the New World Trade Center is a very important part of that future. With seven new buildings on their way to completion, we’ve got a lot to look forward to.
Identifying notable some architectural styles
New York’s Federal Hall
Greek Revival: A popular way to show classic reverence. The Greeks did it early and did it right with major advances in arithmetic and other basic sciences. Very plain geometric shapes like rectangles or parallelograms with many simple columns that run from the foundation to hold up the structure.
Olivet Baptist Church
Neo-Roman: Like Greek revival on steroids! The Romans wanted to prove how much more powerful they were than their forebears so look for Greek-style structures with huge domes, unnecessarily enormous staircases and imposing statues.
Beaux Arts: Building on the classical style with incredibly modern techniques developed in the late 19th century. With iron and steel in the mix, the Beaux Arts School could use the aesthetics of the ancient Greeks and Romans but make them tall, strong and large enough to accommodate a growing urban population. Look for grand entrances and capping flourishes on buildings that take up half a city block.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Art Deco: Look up! The age of the skyscraper was well under way when Art Deco came to fame. Inspired by smooth streamlined machinery, like the automobiles and steam engines of the 1920’s. You won’t find flowery carvings but lots of straight lines and clean arcs and modern, somewhat abstract depictions of humans and gods.