Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Midtown Marvels (Part One)

The three main spots I'll be writing of this time around are all almost next to one another in Midtown Manhattan.
Starting at 154 W 55th Street, and - almost directly across from a very odd street sign -

there is an old stable house that still stands. It is the last of a half-dozen that peppered the immediate area.

Built in 1888 by Charles T. Barney (president of the Knickerbocker Trust Company), the ground floor was for the horses of the area's wealthy. The second floor was for the stable workers' living quarters, but the top floor was rented out cheap to artists who could stand the smell.

Known as the Holbein Studios they were home to art luminaries like impressionist Frederick Childe Hassam, Cecilia Beaux and John Singer Sargent (who was the leading portrait paint of the time).
Next is around the block, located two streets up, at 123 57th Street. There, one can see the only ATM in New York City that pays out in gold coins or bars.

Installed in front of a coin store in 2012, it is currently still there, but out of commission. If it were working, I am curious as to how many people would actually use it?

The only other ATMs in the U.S. that also distribute gold can be found at two Golden Nugget Casinos; one in Las Vegas, and the other in Atlantic City.
Lastly, march one block east to see a huge number nine in front of the Solow Building at Nine 57th Street.

Weighing in at two tons (1.8 tonnes), the work was erected in 1974, and was designed by artist Ivan Chermayeff. The piece was created - believe it or not - to distract one's eye from the fact that the slope of the Solow Building reflects a poor view of the neighboring properties.
If you find yourself with time to kill, and you want to stay in the district, I have two more sites you must see. They are a bit of a walk from 57th, though I don't think chess fanatics will mind the trip down to 48th to see a giant chessboard.
While the official address of the board is 767 3rd Avenue, you will find it against the side of 212 E 48th Street.

The four-storey high chessboard uses 2ft (0.3m) diameter pieces, in blue and beige, to recreate world famous matches. A flag indicates whose move is next, with the corresponding piece's action committed each Wednesday. The curious may enter the lobby of the board's address to ask the concierge for a pamphlet on the current game in progress.
The second stop is one which you'll need a few hours to completely take in, so I'll save it for a post of its own. Tune in later this month.