Tag Archives: 1897

General Grant National Memorial (Grant’s Tomb)

Why not President Grant National Memorial? A National Park Service ranger explains that Ulysses’ record as General was more impressive than his record as President. General Grant National Memorial it is.

Either way, the memorial is probably better known as Grant’s Tomb. It is the largest mausoleum in the Western Hemisphere, and is said to be copied from the original Mausoleus’ tomb.

The memorial was financed by donations, not by the government, though the National Park Service now maintains the monument. There’s a small National Park Service visitor center well-hidden across the southbound lanes of Riverside Drive and down a flight of stairs.

“The Rolling Bench,” a series of 17 mosaic-covered concrete benches, was installed around the monument in 1974. Personally, I think the benches are an atrocious, grotesque defacement of the monument; bureaucratic vandalism. But that’s just my opinion, and what do I know?

P.S. – “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” Well, technically, no one. The General and his wife Julia are entombed (above ground), not buried (below ground).

General Grant National Memorial Vital Statistics
  • Location: Riverside Drive at W 122nd Street
  • Year completed: 1897
  • Architect: John H. Duncan
  • Style: Roman Revival
  • New York City Landmark: 1975
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1966
General Grant National Memorial Suggested Reading

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Siegel-Cooper Buildings

The Siegel-Cooper Dry Goods Store, designed by DeLemos & Cordes (New York), was the world’s largest store when opened in September 1896. The Beaux Arts-style building on Sixth Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets had the other distinction of being the first steel-framed store in New York City. The same architect designed the Siegel-Cooper warehouse a few blocks away. (And in 1902 De Lemos & Cordes designed Macy’s Herald Square – which took over the “world’s largest” title with its expansion in 1924.*)

The current tenants at 620 Sixth Avenue are Bed Bath & Beyond, T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls.

The warehouse/wagon house is a block-through building with entrances on 17th and 18th Streets, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The 18th Street Side is currently used by Barneys New York.

Siegel-Cooper Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 616 Sixth Avenue between W 18th and W 19th Streets
  • Year completed: 1897
  • Architect: De Lemos & Cordes
  • Floors: 6
  • Style: Beaux Arts
Siegel-Cooper Warehouse Vital Statistics
  • Location: 249 W 17th Street block-through to 236 W 18th Street between Seventh and Eight Avenues
  • Year completed: 1902
  • Architect: De Lemos & Cordes
  • Floors: 6
Siegel-Cooper Buildings Suggested Reading

*Korean chain Shinsegae took over the title in 2009 with a store in Busan.

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Gouverneur Court

Gouverneur Court is the old Gouverneur Hospital, erected in 1897 to serve immigrants on the Lower East Side. It has been modified several times, including the addition of a fifth floor in 1930. In the 1960s the hospital was converted to a school for special needs children. A botched restoration in the 1980s was repaired in 1992-93. Gouverneur Court is now assisted living housing for low income and special needs residents.

(Gouverneur Court was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, with an estimated $150,000 in damage.)

The building has been wrapped in a cocoon of regulations and financing agreements to prevent conversion to condos.

The property seems well maintained – even the ubiquitous cell phone transmitters have been painted brick red, to blend in better. But the south wing seems to have been restored (or originally built?) with less terra cotta detailing than the north wing. Compare the way that the windows are arched and trimmed.

The building’s South Street facade is the most picturesque, with two wings of tiered, curved, iron rail-enclosed verandahs.

Gouverneur Court Vital Statistics
  • Location: 621 Water Street at Gouverneur Street
  • Year completed: 1897
  • Architect: John Rochester Thomas
  • Floors: 6
  • Style: Renaissance
  • National Register of Historic Places: Oct. 29, 1982
Gouverneur Court Suggested Reading

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Astor Building

The Astor Building, built on the site of former Astor family homes, was beautifully restored during a 1996 condominium conversion after years of neglect. The gleaming white brick and terra cotta facade has the distinction of treating every floor differently.

The building was originally lofts for garment industry manufacturing. From 1993 to 2004 this was the home of The New Museum for Contemporary Art – occupying the ground floor and basement. The building’s owners tried to convert it to a luxury hotel, but failed; new owners stepped in with a condo conversion. Though the museum moved out, the building still calls itself “The New Museum Building.” Read the Daytonian in Manhattan blog for more fascinating (sometimes bizarre) history.

And then just enjoy the building, a floor at a time.

Astor Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 583 Broadway, between Prince and Houston Streets
  • Year completed: 1897
  • Architect: Cleverdon & Putzel
  • Floors: 12
  • Style: Beaux Arts
  • New York City Landmark: 1973 (part of the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District)
Astor Building Suggested Reading
  • NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report (SoHo Cast Iron Historic District, p. 48)
  • The New York Times archives (about the restoration)
  • The New York Sun article
  • Daytonian in Manhattan blog
  • City Realty listing

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640 Broadway

640 Broadway, designed by DeLemos & Cordes and completed in 1897, is the original Empire State Building – named for the bank that was housed on the ground floor.

DeLemos & Cordes would go on to design much grander buildings – notably the Keuffel & Esser Company Building, Siegel, Cooper & Co. Department Store, and the R.H. Macy & Co. Department Store at Herald Square.

The building’s original commercial tenants – including the Empire State Bank – have long since departed; a Swatch store now occupies the ground floor; upper floors have been converted to loft apartments.

640 Broadway Vital Statistics
640 Broadway Recommended Reading

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Witherspoon Building

Philadelphia’s Witherspoon Building knows how to make an entrance! According to the architect, Joseph M. Huston, “The Witherspoon Building was an attempt to tell the story of the Organization of the Presbyterian Church in this country in Architecture, Painting and Sculpture.”

That was indeed an appropriate objective for the Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath School Work. The building was named for John Witherspoon, first president of Princeton University (then College of New Jersey) and the only Presbyterian minister to sign the Declaration of Independence. The numerous medallions and details of the Walnut Street and Juniper Street facades represent the boards and agencies of the Presbyterian church. Originally the building’s facades also carried 16 terra cotta statues. Six of the statues, of key figures in the history of the Presbyterian Church, were placed above the entrances. Ten statues, of Old Testament prophets, flanked the eighth floor arches. The statues were removed in 1961 for safety concerns.

It seems odd that this building is absent from Philadelphia’s architectural guidebooks. A case of too many other more important landmarks, or a snub for some reason?

Witherspoon Building Vital Statistics
Witherspoon Building Recommended Reading

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