Posted by: lornasass | March 15, 2009

LOOK UP TO SEE OLD NEW YORK

Whenever I remember to look up above the (mostly ugly) storefronts in Manhattan, I’m always delighted to be reminded how much of old New York still exists.  I love old New York–the buildings, the spiffy way people dressed and always wore hats.

The trick to time-traveling is remembering to look up.

I got this tip years ago on a walking tour with the Municipal Arts Society, that blessed organization founded after the magnificent old Pennsylvania Station was destroyed to be replaced by the monstrosity now called Penn Station–a “place” that doesn’t even feel like a building, no less a point of grand arrival and departure.

The Municipal Arts Society’s mission is to increase awareness of great buildings and to preserve them by landmarking them so that they will forever be protected. On that particular walking tour of historic Broadway theaters in the West 40s, I was advised to look above the ugly marques.  The beauty and architectural detail I saw that day has helped me to remember to look up ever since.

On the way to a doctor’s appointment that was going to take place in a very huge, ugly, impersonal hospital on 1st Avenue, I was cheered up by looking up as I walked along East 32nd Street between Park Avenue South and Second Avenue.  What brought me joy and pleasure was witnessing the elegance, playfulness, and craftsmanship evident in many of the facades.

Here are a few of the fine and funny things I saw:

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