Tag Archives: 1898

Hotel Martinique

Hotel Martinique is full of surprises. For starters, don’t let the French Renaissance style fool you: The name has nothing to do with the sunny French Caribbean island – it’s named for developer William R. H. Martin. And the showy Broadway and W 32nd Street facades are actually add-ons to the hotel – it started as a more modest property on W 33rd Street.

But if the style reminds you of the Plaza, that shouldn’t surprise: the two hotels have the same architect, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh.

Like the Plaza, Hotel Martinique has open space – Greeley Square – in front of it, to show off grand-scaled elements: A four-story mansard roof, tiers of balconies and gigantic ornaments.

Grandiose was appropriate for the time. Just down the block (where the Empire State Building now stands) were the original Waldorf and Astoria hotels (also designed by Hardenbergh).

Unfortunately, as the theater district moved north over the years, so did Martinique’s luxury clientele. By the late 1900s the property became run down; in the ’70s and ’80s it was a notorious homeless shelter and welfare hotel. At the time of its designation as a NYC landmark, the Hotel Martinique was being renovated as a Holiday Inn. Currently it is a Radisson property, popular with airline crews and tour groups. In keeping with W 32nd Street’s current identity – “Korea Way” – the property has a 24-hour Korean restaurant, Kum Gang San.

Hotel Martinique Vital Statistics
  • Location: 1260 Broadway at West 32nd Street
  • Year completed: 1898, 1903, 1911 (3 phases)
  • Architect: Henry Janeway Hardenbergh
  • Floors: 16
  • Style: French Renaissance
  • New York City Landmark: 1998
Hotel Martinique Suggested Reading

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St James Building

St James Building was among the earliest highrise office buildings in the NoMad neighborhood, replacing the St. James Hotel. It is considered among Bruce Price’s most important designs, after Quebec City’s Château Frontenac Hotel.

The St James Building was a favorite home for architects, including Daniel Burnham, Henry Pelton and John Russell Pope – as well as Bruce Price. Remarkably, after more than 115 years the building is still home to dozens of architects.

The steel-framed building follows the traditional base-shaft-capital design; the base and capital are of limestone, with prominent arched windows and bays; the shaft is of brick indented to simulate the deep rusticated joints of stone. Elaborate and massive terra cotta decoration is used throughout.

Architect Bruce Price has another claim to fame: Price invented, patented, and built the parlor bay-window cars for the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Boston and Albany Railroad. (See Wikipedia.)

Historical Note: Washington didn’t sleep here, but Golda Meir worked here in the early ’30s according to “All Around the Town: Amazing Manhattan Facts and Curiosities, Second Edition (Empire State Editions).”

St James Building Vital Statistics
St James Building Recommended Reading

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Bowling Green Offices

Bowling Green Offices is New York’s only “Hellenic Renaissance” style building.* It’s an architectural style invented by brothers William and George Ardsley as “a free but pure treatment of ancient Greek architecture.”

Whatever the style, it has crisp, lively ornamentation that stands out from its neighbors on “Steamship Row.” (When Bowling Green Offices was built, One Broadway was still a Queen Anne-style red brick building, and the Cunard Building had not yet been built; the Hudson River was just three blocks to the west.)

In plan, the building is U-shaped, with the base at the north, next to the Cunard Building. The light court in the middle of the U is aligned with the light court of One Broadway, the neighbor to the south.

This was the site of high drama: White Star Line, an early tenant, was besieged by worried relatives and friends of passengers aboard The Republic, which had been rammed by the Italian ship Florida in 1909. All passengers were safe in that incident, but three years later the offices were jammed again as news of the Titanic spread. Drama of a different sort hit the building in 1915: Seven elevators simultaneously fell; and seven months later, four elevators repeated the performance.

In 1920, the owners added a 17th floor and, at the north end of the building, a four-story tower.

Architect George Ardsley is better known as an author of 25 books on decorative art, and as a designer of pipe organs – including the famed Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia.

* The only other building in this style was the Layton Art Gallery in Milwaukee, now demolished.

Bowling Green Offices Vital Statistics
Bowling Green Offices Recommended Reading

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Engine Company 33

Engine Company 33 firehouse embodies New York fire department architecture: big, bold, and colorful – like the men who live, work and sometimes die there.

The house dominates Great Jones Street on the block between Lafayette Street and The Bowery. Its monumental limestone Beaux Arts arch, scooped out of the four-story red brick facade like a band shell, recalls the top of New York’s demolished Singer Building. That tower, also designed by Ernest Flagg, was the world’s tallest building when completed in 1909 – 11 years after this firehouse.

The firehouse, now shared by Ladder Company 9, was among the first designed by Flagg. Until 1895, Napoleon Le Brun (and sons) had been the NYFD chief architect; the firm designed 40 firehouses in 16 years.

Tragically, this house lost 10 of its 14 firefighters on September 11, 2001. (The NY Times article was incorrect on this point.)

Engine Company 33 Vital Statistics
Engine Company 33 Recommended Reading

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