NYBG Museum Building
Architect: Robert W. Gibson
Borough: The Bronx
This Beaux-Arts confection of epic grace and grandeur and the most beautiful building in the Bronx. With its Fountain of Life and Tulip Tree Allee, it offers one of the most majestic approaches in the city. The home of the New York Botanical Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library, its 4,000-volume collection is the largest of its kind under one roof. And, while only garden members can borrow books in circulation, on-site study is open to the public.
On October 12, 1892, the statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle was unveiled. Sculpted by Gaetano Russo and funded by the local Italian-language newspaper Il Progresso, the statue was erected in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the wrong place. Never before or since has anyone been more famous for getting more hopelessly lost than the man who was on the opposite side of the planet from where he thought he was. It is strangely appropriate, therefore, that Columbus Circle marks the spot from which all distances from New York are measured.
Ever since 1929, October 11 has been General Pulaski Memorial Day, honoring the father of the U.S. Cavalry. A free-thinking, single-minded, rebellious soldier from Poland, Casimir Pulaski came to America because he believed in George Washington’s fight for freedom. His skill fighting on horseback earned him a brigadier generalship from the Continental Congress and his unorthodox sense of discipline earned him the resentment and suspicion of the men under his command. But, in the siege of Savannah in 1779, he gave his life for a cause that was not his, and has subsequently become one of the most widely honored figures in U.S. history. Seen as a symbol of Polish-American identity, Pulaski’s most famous monument in New York City is undoubtedly the Pulaski Bridge that connects Long Island City, Queens to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Pulaski Skyway is a series of bridges in New Jersey connecting to the Holland Tunnel. There is also a Pulaski Street in Brooklyn and a Pulaski Elementary School in Yonkers.
Happy 100th Birthday to the late, great Thelonious Monk! The distinctive, inventive, idiosyncratic jazz musician and composer from North Carolina moved to New York when he was four years old and ultimately became the second most recorded jazz composer (after Duke Ellington) in history. Becoming house pianist at Minton’s in his early 20’s, Monk became an important bebop pioneer, performing with such legends as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Later, he became a Greenwich Village staple, performing regularly at Five Spot Café and the Village Vanguard until his refusal to testify against a friend who had been arrested for drug possession led to the police pulling his cabaret card. This limited his performance opportunities to theatres, recordings, and out-of-town gigs for several years. Mental illness plagued Monk in his later years and he died of a stroke in 1982 at age 64. Posthumously, he was awarded with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a special Pulitzer Prize for a body of distinguished and innovative musical composition that has had a significant and enduring impact on the evolution of jazz.
Architect: Herts & Tallant
The first Broadway Theatre to be designated a New York City Landmark (in 1974), this is one of the three oldest in the district, and one of the few to have never been renamed. Its grand white marble columns rise delightfully above its undulating marquee. It was the home of the original productions of Born Yesterday, The Country Girl, and A Hatful of Rain. However, in keeping with its ornate European style, it has also housed the original Broadway productions of plays by such beloved Old-World authors as J.M. Barrie, John Osborne, Joe Orton, Athol Fugard, and Martin McDonough.
Architect: Stanford White
Built on land purchased from the Hamersley Estate (not from the Duchess of Marlborough as stated on the plaque on the club’s Fifth Avenue side) for an organization established two years earlier, this masterpiece of elite social gathering is the ultimate gesture of exclusivity. Founded by J. Pierpont Morgan for his self-made friends who had been denied membership in the Union Club, this building very deliberately does not face Fifth Avenue, but rather “turns its shoulder” on the great thoroughfare and maintains its entrance on 60th Street. Its grand carriage yard and wrought iron gates, interiors designed by Gilbert Cuel, and Renaissance Revival ceiling murals by Edward E. Simmons contribute to its success as the most beautiful and ornate social club in New York.
New York Yacht Club
Architect: Warren & Wetmore
Opponents of Beaux-Arts architecture like to insist that form should follow function. But if the function of a building is to celebrate its club members’ mutual love of yachting, this neo-Baroque masterpiece fits the bill perfectly. With the sterns of ships dripping in seaweed worked in among the columns, the birthplace of the America’s Cup is the most elegant and whimsical building on the stretch of 44th Street that has come to be known as “clubhouse row”. Inside, the Model Room becomes the centerpiece for the club, showing brilliantly crafted scale models of every vessel that the club has sponsored for the America’s Cup challenge.
October 6 is National German-American Day! In a country that celebrates Irish ancestry in March and Italian ancestry in mid-October, it is highly appropriate to celebrate today as more Americans are descended from Germans than any other ethnicity in the world. The date was chosen in honor of the anniversary of 13 German families settling in Philadelphia and was celebrated unofficially for the first time in 1883. The holiday fell out of favor during World War I, but was revived by Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s and he signed the holiday into official registry early in that decade. Just in time for Oktoberfest, it’s a great day to visit one of New York’s hearty German restaurants or celebrate the culture through music or film. Happy German-American Day!
On October 5, 1992, Tina Brown took over as editor of The New Yorker. Young, subversive, and controversial, Brown had already rescued Tatler and Vanity Fair from extinction, and proceeded to overhaul the stuffy and elitist New Yorker. In the process, she ruffled some establishment feathers but raised circulation by nearly 23 percent and built collaborative relationships with some of the most respected visual and literary artists in the business. During her tenure, The New Yorker won 4 George Polk Awards, 5 Overseas Press Club Awards, and 10 National Magazine Awards. By the time she resigned in 1998 to go to work for Miramax Films, Brown had been described as “the best magazine editor alive”.
Congratulations to Patrick Casey for getting the correct answer first!