USA | NYC
 


Day 798

Sky and earth

March 7th, 2014


Day 798

From below to above

March 7th, 2014



Not long after navigating the crazy underpass seen in the previous post, I found myself atop the aforementioned exit ramps, snaking along this narrow, forgotten-looking pedestrian path.

Day 798

A crazy underpass

March 7th, 2014



beneath the tangle of ramps leading to and from the George Washington Bridge

Day 798




Built to house the 22nd Regiment of the Army Corps of Engineers, this armory was completed in 1911, and began hosting track meets shortly thereafter. By the middle of the 20th century, it had become "the cathedral of indoor high school track in the region", with an aging wooden running surface infamous for the generously sized splinters it would embed in the legs of any racer unfortunate enough to trip and fall during competition. (Here are one runner's recollections of those days.)

In the mid-1980s, the city decided to close the track and turn the armory into a vast homeless shelter that at times held up to 1,200 men. The place became notorious for its violence, drugs, and squalor, and was shut down several years later. The track reopened in 1993, this time boasting a new Olympic-style synthetic surface, and has once again become a "runners' mecca". The armory's stature in the world of athletics was given another boost in 2004, when it was dedicated as the new home of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Day 798

A classy beverage

March 7th, 2014


Day 798




This building, featuring one of renowned theater architect Thomas Lamb's "most ebullient facades", originally contained the lobby of the 1913 Hamilton Theater. In recent years, it has served as the home of at least two discount retail stores; one of them, Hamilton Palace, was described by a Yelp reviewer as "Target after the apocalypse."

The former theater's 2,500-seat auditorium, located just behind this building, has been unused and decaying for some time. Here's a great photo tour of what the NY Times's Christopher Gray called "one of the most spectacular wrecks in New York City."

Day 798

Portals of the day

March 7th, 2014


Day 798

Taxi lawyer

March 7th, 2014


Day 798

Nice hat

March 7th, 2014


Day 798

A temple to storage

March 7th, 2014



Currently used for self-storage, this classically styled edifice was built in the late 1920s as a "furniture warehouse", according to a 1998 NY Times article. "The columns and pilasters mask a cavernous interior, containing over 1,000 storage rooms and vaults, built of thick concrete and steel and dispersed over 14 floors. Roughly half the floors are built below street level, far below the [Riverside Drive] viaduct" (on which I'm standing). This view from down below on the Henry Hudson Parkway makes the actual size of the building a little clearer.

The architect was George S. Kingsley, who "designed several other historically inspired storage warehouses", including the similar Atlas Storage building in Philadelphia and the Egyptian Revival Reebie Storage Warehouse in Chicago. Even given the different architectural standards of that era, it seems kind of odd that such refined designs were employed for these utilitarian structures. The reason for this, I think, is obscured by the vague descriptions of these facilities as "furniture warehouses" or "storage warehouses". What does that mean exactly?

We start to get a better sense when we find out that Mr. Kingsley's architectural specialty was "secure storage for shorebound summer vacationers". And a while back, when passing by the Portovaults of Day & Meyer, Murray & Young, we learned that the well-to-do once "stored seasonally . . . When people went away for the summer, they rolled up their rugs and took their silver and put it in storage." So I'd imagine that the clientele of these former businesses was considerably wealthier than the budget-conscious customers of today's self-storage warehouses. Perhaps the grand, imposing architecture was important for appealing to that snootier demographic.

Day 798

An aerial view

March 7th, 2014



of part of Columbia University's future campus in Manhattanville. Standing atop the Riverside Drive viaduct, we're looking east at the skeleton of the new Jerome L. Greene Science Center, with the elevated 1 train crossing 125th Street in the background at right. 130th Street used to run right down the middle of this scene, and eventually will once again.

Day 798

Beneath Riverside Drive

March 7th, 2014



at the northern end of Riverside Park

Day 798

Prentis Hall

March 7th, 2014



Owned by Columbia University since 1949, this 1911 building was originally a milk processing plant operated by Sheffield Farms (whose "Class I gravity milk plant" — one of only two in the country when it opened in 1914 — we saw in the Bronx). Sheffield was later joined in the neighborhood by Borden, who converted the nearby Studebaker building into a milk plant in 1937.

Day 798

The Studebaker building

March 7th, 2014



Erected around 1923 as a finishing facility for newly manufactured Studebakers, this building has subsequently served as a milk processing plant and has housed, among other things, a doll factory and part of the American Museum of Natural History's Polynesian antiquities collection. Columbia University has rented space here for over two decades and now plans to incorporate the building into its new Manhattanville campus, making it one of only a few existing buildings within the bounds of the future campus that will still be standing when construction is complete in two decades or so.

Day 798

Porthole of the day

March 7th, 2014



Peering west across Columbia's construction site toward the Riverside Drive viaduct