Last year marked the fiftieth and seventy-fifth anniversaries, respectively, of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. I wrote about these two fairs with regards to the 1939 introduction of television by RCA and the 1964 New York State Pavilion, designed by celebrated modern architect Phillip Johnson.
Starting today, June 29, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is hosting a photographic exhibit on the “ignored” and “ridiculed” architecture of the World’s Fairs. The exhibition, Persuasive Images: Architecture of the 1939–40 & 1964–65 New York World’s Fairs, will run until July 27, and there’s an opening reception on July 9, two weeks after the exhibit opens.
Persuasive Images: Architecture of the 1939–40 & 1964–65 New York World’s Fairs
Much like we did last year, Sarah and I spent an entire Saturday searching for icons of modern architecture around New York City. The hunt was pretty simple. There were about forty clues. We had to solve each clue by going to each building and snapping a photo of ourselves in front of it. To ensure we didn’t submit snapshots of ourselves either before or after the hunt, we had to sport a very specific “ONHY” button.
We learned from last year’s that there’s a lot of traveling involved. While we used a 7-day unlimited ride Metrocard to get around last year, we brought our bikes for this year’s hunt. We found that we could get around a lot faster, especially going crosstown, but it didn’t see like we covered much more ground than we did in 2012. Go figure.
Because we were getting around by bicycle, I saw a lot of places I haven’t in years. For instance, there were reminders of when friends would come to visit, the hotels they stayed in, and the places we visited. We also spotted a few potential candidates for future contests.
Highlights of this year’s contest included Paley Park, a little courtyard with a waterfall right in the middle of midtown, the Synagogue for the Arts in TriBeCa, and the Kelly and Gruzen–designed branch of the New York Public Library at 10 Jersey Street. While most of the photography was pretty basic, there were some difficult shots. Perhaps the most difficult was getting a shot of the AT&T Building (now the Sony Building…but not for much longer) and the Rockefeller Apartments in the same shot. The only way we could get that shot was by going inside of the Museum of Modern Art and snapping a photo just past the museum’s entrance.
A new favorite photo of the former Transworld Airlines terminal at JFK Airport. An awesome spectacle to see the renovated building, but I didn’t appreciate paying $10 round trip to ride the Air Train but not fly anywhere.
The tenth annual Open House New York weekend begins tomorrow. Sarah and I have bought tickets to several tours for both Saturday and Sunday. There will undoubtedly be a ton of photos that I will post here, but I’m looking forward to hopping around this city to see as much cool architecture as we can.
Here’s our schedule for the weekend:
We begin on Saturday with a tour of the Roosevelt House, a recently renovated townhouse in the east 60s that was home to Franklin D. and his family. That’s not the only former Roosevelt home open this weekend. There’s also Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace since it’s open from 10:30 – 4:00 on Saturday. I tried to go with my mom when she was here last summer, but it was closed for renovations
Later that afternoon, we shuffle to the west side for a walking tour of the public spaces around Lincoln Center. The tour will highlight works by many luminaries of modern architecture, ranging from Eero Saarinen to the very active firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
We have tickets for a tour of the Phillip Johnson–designed Four Season restaurant. We saw the inside of the Four Seasons back in February when we went on a [scavenger hunt of modern architecture][scavenger] sites in New York. The tour is on Saturday afternoon, which is challenging for me because that’s the same time as the Robots are playing in the third and deciding game of the McCarren Cup finals.
At noon, we’re taking a tour of the last remaining segment of the old High Line that has not yet been developed as a park. The High Line at the Rail Yards is a last opportunity to see the abandoned rail line in its undeveloped state. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re due for rain on Sunday so I hope we can still see this before it becomes one of the city’s most popular parks.
After that, we’re heading to Queens for couple of tours that don’t require reservations. The first is a tour of the old TWA Flight Center at Kennedy Airport, a Eero Saarinen project that is inside of Terminal 5, currently the home of JetBlue’s hub at JFK. The terminal is exciting because it was constructed at the dawn of the jet age and shows the futuristic optimism of that era. While connecting to the AirTrain in Jamaica, we’ll make our way to the King Manor Museum in Jamaica. I first saw this when I was marking the route for the Ride to Montauk, and I’m glad that they are participating so I can finally see this place.
Chances are slim that I’ll be too busy to post updates throughout the weekend, but I’ll be posting photos to Flickr as soon as I can and then later on this website.
New York has more than a fair share of famous buildings, and on Saturday, Open House New York and DoCoMoMo New York staged a scavenger hunt of Modern Architecture. Contestants were given about forty clues to find buildings, rooms, and sculptures around New York, mostly in Manhattan, and collect points for each one.
Sarah had signed us up, under the name The Whiskey Thieves, and we started our hunt at Room and Board, a modern furniture store in SoHo at 11:00 AM, and we had until 5:00 PM to find as many buildings as we could. To ensure we found the buildings, we took photos of ourselves, wearing a bright orange-and-black button, in front of the building, such as the photo in this post.
Although each of us had lived here for over ten years, we saw a good number of buildings for the first time. For example, I’ve probably biked past the corner of Park Ave and 59th St dozens of times, but I never knew that at the south-west corner, at 500 Park Avenue, was the former Pepsi Co. headquarters. A good number of the buildings were clustered around Park Avenue in the 50s, including the Seagrams Building, Lever House, and the Mercedes-Benz of Manhattan showroom (formerly the Hoffman Motors showroom).
Aside from finding buildings, we could earn points by taking photos of other assorted items, such as holding one of those Great Architects Lego models, one of us sporting Le Corbusier–style eyeglasses, or a copy of Le Corbusier’s Towards A New Architecture. We found a pair of glasses at Studio Optix in Rockefeller Center (thanks for letting us try them on), and at the Lego Store we found built-but-encased model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. We couldn’t find a printed copy of the Le Corbusier’s book so we settled for an iBook on my iPad.
Remember when I thought that I recognized the house in the 1959 film The House on Haunted Hill? It turns out that the house is famous for a few reasons. Although it has appeared in a ton of films, including Bladerunner and L.A. Confidential to name but two, I “recognized” it because it looks like the Hollyhock House, which I toured with Sarah and my mom in May 2010. The Hollyhock House and Ennis House, the house from Haunted Hill, were both designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are both sited in Hollywood.
Since seeing House on Haunted Hill, I made visiting Ennis House one of my priorities when visiting Los Angeles. On the day after Christmas, my parents, Sarah, and I drove to the Hollywood Hills to see the house. Regrettably, one cannot tour the house. It was sold to a private owner in July 2011. The house needs a lot of work, but it’s not clear when the house will be open to the public once the new owner takes possession.
Visiting the house is easy with a car. Take Vermont Avenue north past Los Feliz Boulevard. Turn left on Cromwell Ave, then a quick right onto Glendower Ave. Follow the winding road up, up, and up, and then after about a quarter mile you will see the house. Mind the parking signs and take a walk around the house and, obviously, don’t disturb the adjacent properties.
After gawking at Ennis House, we drove back down the hill and stopped at Barnsdall Park to show my dad Hollyhock House because he had not seen it.
A day after we visited the Ennis and Hollyhock Houses, we stumbled on another Frank Lloyd Wright property. This was the Kundert Medical Clinic in San Luis Obispo. Unlike the other two properties, this was still in full operation. It sits along a creek on Santa Rosa Avenue, which was a main road connecting some important towns in San Luis Obispo County. After running around Hollywood looking at two (of many, many) Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Los Angeles, it was nice to find one by accident en route to our next destination.
As I walked around Long Island City this afternoon, I noticed that the building housing the former Jackson Avenue Steakhouse has made a little change to its exterior. The first story of the building, including the new sports bar and even newer Caribbean restaurant, is now blue. I guess they chose that scheme to clash, as much as possible, with the red awning. Or figuring that since so many flags use the red-white-and-blue combination and are pretty successful, it should work just as well for a sports bar.
I haven’t been to this spot since the old Steakhouse was temporarily closed for health violations, then abandoned its $8 “burger and brew” special, and then changed its name to Al’s Steakhouse. I noticed that it had reopened as a sports bar some months ago, but I never felt compelled to go in. Take a guess if I’ll be going there anytime soon.