Tag Archives: 1924

Beacon Hotel and Theater

Beacon Hotel and Theater share a Broadway facade, but it’s the theater’s interior that keeps getting rave reviews. Conceived as part of the Roxy theater chain, the showplace was described by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) as “…a lavish space with stylistic effects drawn from the traditions of Greek, Roman, Renaissance, and Rococo architecture.”

The buildings are a collaboration of Samuel L. Rothafel – better known as Roxy – and The Chanin Construction Company. LPC explains, “Undoubtedly pleased with the success of combining three theaters with the Hotel Lincoln, thereby providing common building services for all, the Chanins saw a combination theater-hotel structure to be a logical solution for the site.”

Alas, Roxy’s plans did not pan out. Warner Bros. Pictures wound up with the theater lease. The Beacon continued as a movie theater until 1974, when the programs switched to live performances. The LPC designated the interior a landmark in 1979. In 1986 developers wanted to convert the Beacon to a disco – plans that were halted by a judge who said the conversion would irreparably harm the landmark’s architecture. Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s parent company, Cablevision, leased the Beacon in 2006. Cablevision restored the theater at a reported cost of $10 million. Madison Square Garden Company now manages the Beacon.

P.S. It’s called Beacon Hotel because of an airplane beacon on the roof.

Beacon Hotel and Theater Vital Statistics
Beacon Hotel and Theater Recommended Reading

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215 W 75th Street

215 W 75th Street, aka Majestic Towers, is a sedate Upper West Side cooperative now – but it roared in the ’20s as a brothel and speakeasy!

According to a history originally published on the building’s now-dormant website, the structure was designed as a bordello. Celebrities and celebrated madam Polly Adler called this home. During police raids, patrons could escape via reputed “secret” staircases. (Naysayers pooh-pooh the idea, and say the stairs were just fire escapes required by the building code of the time.)

Architecturally, the building follows the traditional base-shaft-crown organization. The three-story crown is the most expressive feature, with white terra cotta decoration.

Majestic Towers became a cooperative in 1989.

215 W 75th Street Vital Statistics
215 W 75th Street Recommended Reading

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American Radiator Building

Passers-by are probably puzzled by the industrial-strength gilt-painted chimerae on Bryant Park Hotel – if they even lift their eyes to the third floor level. But the figures make perfect sense in the context of the facade’s original owners, American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Company.

Originally, this was the American Radiator Building and later known as the American Standard Building. The ground floor initially contained showrooms for the company’s bathroom fixtures.

The 23-story tower still stands out for its colors – black brick trimmed in gold – and unconventional shape. One architecture critic called it “the most daring experiment in color in modern buildings yet made in America.”

According to the Wikipedia article, the building is based on a design submitted for the Chicago Tribune building.

The building was converted to a hotel in 2001; it has New York City landmark status, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Bryant Park Hotel Vital Statistics
  • Location: 40 W 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
  • Year completed: 1924
  • Architect: Raymond Hood and André Fouilhoux
  • Floors: 23
  • Style: Gothic/Art Deco
  • New York City Landmark: 1974
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1980
Bryant Park Hotel Suggested Reading

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Arsenal Building

The Arsenal Building, a 21-story Renaissance Revival loft building, was the first of 14 Garment District structures designed by Ely Jacques Kahn. The building is named for the New York State Arsenal that previously occupied the site.

(Not to be confused with The Arsenal at Fifth Avenue and 63rd Street, now used as a Parks Department administration building.)

At the time that this was built, loft buildings were notoriously cheap and utilitarian in construction – designed with little regard for aesthetics. Here, the developer and architect decided to invest in beauty (similar to the 1888 Schermerhorn Building in Greenwich Village, designed to demonstrate that a factory didn’t have to be ugly).

Incidentally, the Garment District’s development was quite controversial over the years. The city and the garment industry grappled with issues of worker safety, overcrowding, traffic, and disruption of business in the adjacent shopping district. The Skyscraper Museum exhibition “Urban Fabric” and Fashion Center pdf pamphlet “A Stitch In Time” have more background.

Arsenal Building Vital Statistics
Arsenal Building Recommended Reading

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