Walking along the streets in New York City is really an experience like no other. For some reason I am motivated to walk whenever I am in the city and I always discover something new. I find myself wondering what it was like for people who lived here 100 years ago and attempt to imagine the New York that they knew. Around every corner is another piece of history that promotes additional curiosity. This trip, I spent a fair amount of time looking up and discovered a new way of seeing New York!
I once read that if you wanted to hide something, you should hide it overhead as few people actually think to look above their normal line of sight. I’ve seen plenty of tourists stretching necks to view and photograph the skyline yet there are wonderful delights in-between. A short walk through midtown on my way to a meeting offered several:
The Cartier building at 651 5th Ave is neither new and glossy nor grand and overbearing in its surroundings yet by glancing up I noticed the Cartier clock that has been adorning the façade for more than 100 years.
The building is actually full of history and when considered in context, I find it fascinating to consider what it must have been like before being swallowed in its sea of glass towers. Architecturally speaking, the four-story neo-Italian Renaissance-style palazzo was constructed of marble and granite with a facade three widows wide. The storefront windows on the ground floor were converted in 1917 and a gold crowned entrance was added. A cast-iron balcony stretches the length of the second story. The roof is topped with an elegant, classic marble balustrade. It was the personal residence of Henry Plant when Cartier bought the property for $100 and a very valuable pearl necklace.
A little further down 5th Ave. is St. Patrick’s Cathedral which is often photographed from the front and is rather infamous. Currently, the front of the building is undergoing major restoration but do not miss the opportunity to walk the perimeter of the building; an entire NYC block between 5th & Madison / 50th & 51st streets. The back side of the building is just as awe inspiring and be sure to ‘look up’ to notice the magnificent spires that practically surround the roof. Construction on the building began in 1858 and progressed on and off through 1930 with various additions and renovations.
Walking East to Park Avenue brings you right in front of St. Bartholomew’s Church (commonly known as St. Bart’s), another old architectural splendor sitting amidst the concrete jungle. The current location is actually the third for this 175 year old Episcopalian congregation, which began construction in 1916. The architecture and history are such a tourist draw that official tours are given after the 11:00 mass each Sunday. I am told that a visit is worthwhile if only to view the 24 karat gold mosaics for which the church is famous.
Walking north just three blocks will bring you to St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church, yet another architectural vision! Completed in 1913, it is constructed completely of stone if the French High Gothic style. Characteristic of English cathedrals, the nave vault rises 95 feet above the floor with columns and arches that provide the perfect acoustic environment for spectacular music provided by the antique organ and world class boys choir.
Demonstrating that it is not only the churches that command attention, I had to take a shot of the side this building because, once again – looking up – offered architectural detail that one doesn’t experience in modern buildings.
This is but a small representation of why walking the streets of New York City is so enjoyable and often educational, in particular when ‘looking up’! Splendid examples of art from bygone eras and of lives that were concerned about beauty in buildings and the details within are woven into the concrete and glass landscape that is all too familiar of our largest metropolitan environments.
If you know of other examples that should be on the radar for NYC visitors, drop a pin on the UE map in the exact location and we will make sure to include it in our next blog post and spread it across our social media platforms! Uencounter.me seeks to share all the best that comes from our geo-location platform!