Tag Archives: Carrere & Hastings

New York Public Library

With Bryant Park at its back and ample space all around, it’s not just the jewel, it’s also the setting that makes The New York Public Library such standout architecture. (Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets)

The site of the library and adjacent Bryant Park had been the Croton Distributing Reservoir. Bryant Park, incidentally, is a “green roof” for the library’s expanded (in 1980s) storage space.

The fascinating history of the New York Public Library system – and the main branch, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building – is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Public_Library.

The library is about to undergo massive internal changes – a circulating library is being installed in space now occupied by book stacks. (See articles by The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.)

New York Public Library Vital Statistics
  • Location: 476 Fifth Avenue between W 40th and W 42nd Streets
  • Year completed: 1911 (official opening)
  • Architect: Carrère and Hastings
  • Floors: 7
  • Style: Beaux Arts
  • New York City Landmark: 1967 (exterior), 1974 (interior)
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1965
New York Public Library Suggested Reading

Google Map

Herald Square Hotel

Herald Square Hotel, though grossly altered, remains a bright spot on West 31st Street – just across the street and down the block from the larger Hotel Wolcott. It’s also where some fascinating histories intersect.

The building, designed by Carrère & Hastings, was erected as the home of Life magazine in 1900. At the time, Life was the upscale humor magazine that discovered Charles Dana Gibson, the artist behind the famous “Gibson Girls.” Other contributors included Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley and Norman Rockwell. Gibson had a studio in the building, and took over Life magazine after John Mitchell, one of the founders, died in 1918. The magazine went into decline, and was forced to sell the building. Ultimately Henry Luce bought Life for its name.

The building was converted to an apartment hotel in 1937 and has changed hands several times. It was purchased by the Puchall family in 1970, and restored over the years. However, the family made drastic alterations to the top floors in 1995, eliminating the mansard roof.

Herald Square Hotel Vital Statistics
  • Location: 19 W 31st Street, between Fifth Avenue and Broadway
  • Year completed: 1900
  • Architect: Carrère & Hastings
  • Floors: 8
  • Style: Beaux Arts
Herald Square Hotel Suggested Reading

Google Map

Standard Oil Building

The Standard Oil Building began as a 10-story, 86-foot-wide structure in 1885 – just 21 years after the Civil War. But as Standard Oil grew, so did the building: In five stages, it extended north by 27 feet and south by almost 400 feet to Beaver Street and grew to 29 stories. The piece-by-piece construction was dictated by the pace of acquiring and demolishing adjoining properties. The building expanded again in 2011-2012 with the addition of a two-story gymnasium, which filled in a portion of the Beaver Street light court. The gymnasium was needed by one of the three NYC public schools that now occupy seven lower floors.

The shape of the Standard Oil Building is as complex as its construction history – the 16-story base is five-sided, with a curved transition to follow the curve of Broadway as it joins Whitehall Street. The 13-story tower seems misaligned with the building when viewed from the southwest (the best view), but it is actually aligned with the original building’s northern edge.

Material and stylistic details also reveal the piece-by-piece construction. For example, the original brick and granite shows on the New Street (eastern) facade; newer sections are clad in limestone. Some limestone blocks have rounded edges, others are sharply angled; different styles of columns and pilasters are used in the upper stories.

Standard Oil Building Vital Statistics
Standard Oil Building Recommended Reading

Google Map