The Jewish Museum
Architect: C.P.H. Gilbert
Style: French Revival
Once housing a single family of six, the former Warburg mansion is now home to the world’s oldest still-extant Jewish museum. Gilbert was inspired by Richard Morris Hunt, the first American architect trained at Paris’ Ecole des Beaux-Arts, so the French design influence is not surprising. Exhibits within have concentrated on various giants of Jewish culture, including Alfred Dreyfus, Harry Houdini, Amedeo Modigliani, and Eva Hesse.
Brooklyn Public Library
Architect: Githens & Keally
Style: Art Deco
Intended to abstract the image of a book standing open, the delicious gold leaf-crusted entrance of the central library perfectly complements the geometry of the streets that radiate from Grand Army Plaza. As the Art Deco period was waning, giving way to modernism and later the International Style, the library feels like a last hurrah for the decade it left behind.
St. Paul’s Chapel (Columbia University)
Architect: I. N. Phelps Stokes
Style: Roman Revival
Use: House of Worship
One of the few buildings on the campus of Columbia University not designed by McKim, Mead & White, Stokes’ masterpiece is a holy confection inside and out. Vaulted with Guastavino tile, its dazzling acoustics and world-class organ make it a popular place for concerts. It is also rented out for weddings, movie shoots, etc. in addition to being a frequently used meeting place for university activity.
Architect: McKim, Mead & White
Style: Beaux Arts
Opened in the advent of the Great Consolidation, Brooklyn’s monument to artistic culture is often overlooked, but shouldn’t be. The original beaux arts façade decorated with Daniel Chester French statues marries starkly yet seamlessly with its more modern glass lobby entrance and whimsical fountain. The hodgepodge is a perfect welcome to a brilliantly offbeat art collection, including one of the world’s greatest Egyptology exhibits, an exquisite Japanese collection, and a healthy representation of American art.
Wagner College, Main Hall
Architect: Smith, Conable & Powley
Borough: Staten Island
Staten Island’s most beautiful building is the centerpiece of a liberal arts college that moved to the island over a decade before its construction but did not become coeducational or nonsectarian until later. The charming irony of a modern construction done in the centuries-old Tudor style while heralding the progressive direction of the school speaks for itself.
On June 21, 1932, Jack Sharkey won the Heavyweight Championship of the World from Max Schmeling at the new Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island City, Queens. The two had fought before with the opposite result and Sharkey’s split-decision victory was met with controversy, giving birth to the now cliché commentary “We wuz robbed!” from Schmeling’s trainer. Sharkey went on to lose the championship to Primo Carnera (whom he had previously defeated) in his very next fight at the very same venue.
On June 20, 1992, Amy Scherber opened Amy’s Bread on Ninth Avenue. The baker and entrepreneur set up shop in Hell’s Kitchen where foot traffic was slow and the wholesale business kept the company alive. As the neighborhood gentrified, the business thrived and now has outposts in Greenwich Village, Chelsea Market, Lincoln Center, and the New York Public Library.
On June 19, 1867, the Belmont Stakes had its first race at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx. Francis Morris’ filly Ruthless, ridden by A. Jack Minor, won the race at 3:05:00. The race would continue in the Bronx for nearly half a century, first at Jerome Park and later at Morris Park, before finally moving to its current home just outside the eastern border of Queens in 1905.
Architect: Thomas W. Lamb
Style: Art Deco
Now an 88-unit luxury condominium apartment building, this crown jewel of West 70th Street was originally built as a temple for the fraternal organization, the Knights of Pythias. Whimsically decorated with Egyptian motifs, the building offers little surprise that architect Thomas Lamb was most famous for designing extravagantly flamboyant movie palaces.
278 Clinton Avenue
Style: Baroque Revival
Opened: c. 1884
Now divided into seven units, this 3-room mansion in Clinton Hill was built for the 19th-century chemist Behrend H. Huttman. Alas, virtually nothing else is known about this brick and terra cotta gem that graces the block where Standard Oil partner Charles Pratt was once a neighbor. But its angular turret and columned porch speak for themselves, as does its most recent $10-million price tag. And for all this mystery of the house’s past, its position in a Landmark Historic District assures its future.