How does one sum up Manhattan in a few photographs? The Monkey’s not sure, but here are a few photographs from a range of locations in Manhattan, taken at various times during his years spent living in New York City.
Unarguably one of the world’s most unique structures, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home for the Guggenheim Museum in New York is also one of the coolest buildings anywhere. Wright’s will to forge ahead with his controversial design proved all his critics wrong as New York was left with one of modern architecture’s iconic structures. Lamentably, Wright didn’t live to see it finished, dying a few months before the project’s completion in 1959.
The Guggenheim’s signature spiral features an expansive atrium crowned by a skylight. Around the hollow core, a gently sloping, circular walkway shelters coves where temporary exhibitions are displayed, although the building frequently overshadows the impressive art it hosts. Some compare the design to an inverted Babylonian ziggurat, others to a nautilus shell. At any rate, Wright’s inspiration in the organic shapes of nature is evident throughout the Guggenheim Museum.
The Monkey is always happy to visit this engaging building by the most influential U.S. architect of the 20th Century.
The Monkey stops off in Times Square on a winter morning in 2003.
One of the elements that makes a city as big as New York livable is the open space and sanctity of a city park. New York’s Central Park, occupying 3.4 square kilometers in the center of Manhattan, is one of the finest city parks in the world. Offering ample opportunities for strolling, relaxing, biking, picnics, sports, and other leisure activities, Central Park was laid out in the 1850s and 1860s according to a plan by landscape designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. They made full use of the undulating land, incorporating rocky outcrops, swamps, and pastures in their design.
Central Park’s amenities include a zoo, restaurants, an outdoor theater, and the lovely boating pond you see here. The Monkey is sitting on the graceful cast-iron Bow Bridge, built in 1859 and a signature of the park.
The West Village is one of New York City’s most bohemian neighborhoods, and its MacDougal Street has several pleasant cafes. One of the oldest is Caffe Reggio, which opened in 1927 and claims to have served the first cappucinos in the United States. The cafe has a charming interior decorated with antique wooden benches, a beautiful bronze espresso machine from 1902, and even an original Caravaggio!
Caffe Reggio was also featured in the 1971 film Shaft, in which the suave title character instructed two mobsters to meet him at “Caffe Reggio, on MacDougal Street, at quarter to one.” The Monkey was on time, but Shaft was nowhere to be seen.
In February 2005, Central Park sprung to life with a massive outdoor art installment called “The Gates” by the New York-based team of artists Christo (of Bulgaria) and Jeanne-Claude (of France). The Gates consisted of 7,500 freestanding gates, each with a flowing, saffron-colored sash hanging from a 5-meter high crossbar. The gates were spread along walkways throughout the park. Here, the Monkey takes in the warm glow cast by the Gates on an otherwise dreary midwinter day.
The Monkey wanders through the wooded oasis of Central Park’s Ramble.
The Monkey tries to hail a cab in midtown Manhattan, no easy feat. Behind is the massive 264 meter-tall Pan Am Building.
The Pan Am Building, once home to the defunct airline and now owned by Metropolitan Life Insurance, was erected in 1963. Its chief architect, Emery Roth, brought in two leading architects to assist in the design: Walter Gropius, former director of the Bauhaus School in Germany, and Pietro Belluschi, dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s architecture school. The team designed one of New York’s most controversial buildings. The 58-storey octagonal tower in the brutalist style was accused of ruining the facade of Grand Central Terminal (which it straddles here in the shadows), overshadowing the New York Central Building (an older, shorter highrise on the other side of the Pan Am Building, now called the Helmsley Building), and disrupting the vista along Park Avenue.
On the other hand, the building has become one of the most recognized structures in the city, and is much admired for the engineering advances that made it possible to erect the tower on a complex site above a pre-existing structure. And ironically, in comparison with the situation across town at Penn Station—considered the finest U.S. rail station until it was razed in 1963 and forced underground to make way for an uninspired highrise—the Pan Am Building was also commendable on a preservationist level in that it accommodated the old Grand Central Station while also allowing for expanded development of this prime Midtown location.
The Monkey puts the moves on an ornamental sculpture at the base of a lamppost at the New York Public Library’s Humanities Branch.
This Monkey adventure has been viewed 902 times since the 2010 website relaunch.