New York City – September 2018 – Random Scenes of the City

After a week in the city running around each evening taking photos, a number were left without a theme, so they are grouped together here as ‘Scenes of the City’.

The view from the roof of the Met.

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The Guggneheim

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Cool interior shots of the Daily News Building on 42nd Street.

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A Bloomingdale’s on the Upper East Side.

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The 9-11 Memorial.

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The Oculus – I seem to take a photo or two every time I am there and it never gets old.

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George Washington keeping watch over Wall Street.

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A cool interior downtown.

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Fountain in City Hall Park.

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The Flatiron with interesting lighting and coloring.

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Statue on top of City Hall.

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Chambers Street Subway Station entrance.

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Before all the subways in New York consolidated into one large Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), there were many including the BMT (Brooklyn Manhattan Transit), The Independent Subway System (INT), and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT).

Numbered trains are IRT, the letters are either INT or BMT.

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A vertical Madison Square view.

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A series of contrasting architectural styles.

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New York City always provides lots of subjects for photos.

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New York City – September 2018 – Historic Skyscraper Details

As noted on other postings New York City has a plethora of skyscrapers, many that have been built in the last 50 years that are massive glass boxes.

Prior to that the buildings were built with much more style. This posting looks at some of the architectural and artistic details of those early skyscrapers.

The Corbin Building is at Broadway and John Street in lower Manhattan. Dating from 1889, it was built in the Romanesque Revival style with French Gothic details.  It was restored in 2014 by the MTA as part of the Fulton Subway station complex.

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The Woolworth Building was completed in 1912 as the world’s tallest building, at 792 feet high. The exterior is limestone colored, glazed Terra Cotta panels.

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The Woolworth Building is built in a Gothic style, with it’s impressive crown visible still above most of the buildings in the city.

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The Equitable Building is a massive structure on lower Broadway. It has been credited (or cited) as the reason for the 1916 set back law to allow light and air to reach the streets, as this building goes 40 floors straight up from the sidewalk.

With this density it provides 1.2 million square feet of office space on a plot of less than 1 acre.

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The  Equitable Building does provides this impressive eagle.

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The sculptures above the New York Stock Exchange Building. The original sculptures from 1904 were replaced in 1936 as they were too heavy and were causing cracking in the building.

The theme of this sculpture is to show that money is not the root of all evil, rather it is required for the betterment of man.

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The buildings along Beekman Street show the contrast to the new  Frank Gehry 76 story ‘twisted’ skyscraper.

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Surrogate’s Courthouse, completed in 1907

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A sculpture outside of the Custom’s House on Bowling Green.

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Rockefeller Center provides numerous reliefs and sculptures including these two.

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The French Building on Fifth Avenue in Midtown has an impressive entrance.

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A contrast of style along East 42nd Street.

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The Brunswick Building is on Fifth Avenue at 27th Street. Completed in 1906 is has served as a hotel, a warehouse and a sales showroom for gift wholesalers, thus earning the unofficial name as the New York Gift Building.

It is now luxury apartments.

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The famed Flatiron Building. Everyone takes a photo of the narrow front section, this is the side section.

Clearly it does not have central air conditioning.

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A detail on the Flatiron.

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A close up of the Met Life clock.

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The Met Life Building crown.

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The classic art deco – with the ubiquitous eagle. There are eagles on nearly all the older skyscrapers.

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Another contrasting styles view.

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70 Pine Street – Completed in 1932. The top area of the building was once an observation deck.

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Detail of a building along Broadway near Trinity Church.

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Cascading cornices in downtown Manhattan.

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The very cool American Express building.

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Another sculpture in front of the Customs House.

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Cunard Lines building – note the ships.

The new buildings like the World Trade Center are great, but nothing beats the detail on the early 1900s skyscrapers.

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New York City – September 2018 – Abandoned Subway Station Tour

According to the New York MTA documentation there are 472 subway stations throughout the city. Over the years a few have been abandoned for various reasons.

Easily the most famous of those abandoned stations is the former City Hall station. Since 1945 it has sat unused in the loop at the end of the 6 train.

On rare occasions the New York Transmit Museum offers tours of this station. Tickets are hard to get and available to members only (I had a good friend who came through for me!)

We went to the current nearest station (also known as City Hall) and boarded a 6 train that went a short distance before stopping to let us off. The crowd was excited.

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The station itself was the masterpiece of the system when it opened on October 27, 1904. It was the first station to open on the first line.

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The station has a single platform that is curved. This curve eventually lead to the closing in 1945 as the newer cars were longer and made the gap between the cars and the station too wide.

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The arched ceilings and tile work make what the Transit Museum refers to as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the entire subway system.

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As with all subway stations the station name is a mosaic. While plain compared to some the tile work around it adds to the overall feel of the station.

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There are numerous skylights in the station. We had a night time visit so the ambient light from outside was minimal, but it too added to the aura of the tour.

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The mezzanine shown here (and the featured image of this posting) is amazing.

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The huge mosaic at the top is also a skylight, although for this tour there was no light from above.

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Back down on the platform the simple, yet elegant chandeliers provided dim lighting that accented the arched ceilings.

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The station is nearly intact, but some of the skylights need some work. Still the view of the ceilings and the curved platform is stunning.

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The primary station sign from the platform to the mezzanine level. Imagine the excitement in 1904 arriving and seeing this entrance to the station.

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There were 40 people on the tour so it was tough not having people in the photo (or getting into other people’s photos).

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A view from the mezzanine to the platform.

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A closeup of the platform ceiling and chandeliers. While we were there the 6 trains kept slowly rolling through their loop, their wheels screeching loudly on the sharp curve.

One not so hidden secret for the non paying tourists is to stay on the 6 train at the end and check out the station as the train makes it’s loop. Supposedly conductors will sometime allow this – the guides say do it on a bright sunny day so there is some light from the skylights.

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There are a few plaques commemorating the opening of the subway system.

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A close up view of the arched ceiling tile work.

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A close up view of the City Hall station sign mosaic and a skylight.

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The view down the platform into the tunnel with an oncoming train.

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Clearly I couldn’t get enough shots of the curved platform and ceiling. The style is known as a Guastavino Vault – the tile arch system using self supported arches and architectural vaults with interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar.

It is named for Rafael Guastavino who immigrated to New York in 1881 from Barcelona. His work, and others in this style grace numerous buildings throughout New York City and beyond, including the Ellis Island Great Hall.

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Another view of a train rolling through with the arches and skylights (darkened). With no passengers they looked like ghost trains.

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One last look at the mezzanine level.

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And it was time to leave. Even this was amusing as our tour was holding up the entire 6 line as they stopped, set out a ramp to cover the gap and herded us on as fast as possible, with the people not wanting to leave.

Eventually we relented, and we left this fabulous place.

I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity – thanks to a good friend and the Transit Museum.

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New York City – September 2018 – Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is a long narrow island in the East River, between Manhattan and Queens.  For much of the history of the island it was used for hospitals, earning the name Welfare Island

In 1976 the Roosevelt Island Tramway was built, connecting the island to Manhattan next to the 59th Street (Queensboro) Bridge.

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Our ride to the island at 6 PM was packed with tourists and commuters. The island is now home to over 10,000 people, many of which use the tram for their daily commute.

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Once on the island we headed south under the bridge.

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The Smallpox Hospital was opened in 1856 and abandoned in the 1950s. The building remains as a reminder of what Roosevelt Island used to be like.

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At the southern tip of the island is Four Freedoms Park, dedicated to FDR.

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Looking south along the East River towards the Williamsburg Bridge.

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The Long Island City/Hunters Point area in Queens has had substantial growth.

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The apartment buildings in Queens have great views of Manhattan, as well as the iconic Pepsi sign.

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The UN Building. The reason we were on the island is access was restricted to the UN Building area because of ‘UN Week’, so we opted to go to Roosevelt Island instead.

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Returning back to the tram station provided different views of the bridge.

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Roosevelt Island is a popular destination when ‘Manhattanhenge’ occurs. On this day though, we were nowhere near one of those dates, and it was cloudy.

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A look back at Manhattan towards the Chrysler Building.

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At just the right angle it appears as though the tram is running underneath the bridge.

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The return ride was far less crowded.

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With the sun setting the lights were coming on (although the reflection in the tram windows made it tough).

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One final look back at Roosevelt Island.

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And the squeeze between the buildings and the bridge into the Manhattan side.

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FDR Drive goes under some of the buildings.

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Arrival at the station.

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The southbound tail lights on 1st Avenue. Roosevelt Island is worth the visit, take the tram!

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New York City – September 2018 – Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building is the most stylish skyscraper in New York City. Built in the late 1920s, it was for a few months the tallest building in the world – losing out to the Empire State Building once their construction completed.

To most, it is most famous for it’s ‘hood ornaments’, befitting a building built for a car company.

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Built in the classic art deco style, it appears to have perfect symmetry, but in reality the building is built in a trapezoid shape. This shape is a result of it being built on land that had been laid out along the path of the old Boston Post Road, which pre-dated the 1811 Manhattan Grid Plan.

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With a height over 1,000 feet it is the tallest brick building in the world.

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The 61st floor features eagles.

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In 1916 New York City enacted a ‘setback’ law. This law did not limit height, but required setbacks in the design to allow light and air to reach the streets below.

As a result many of the buildings built from then until the 1950s have a ‘wedding cake’ style to them.

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As noted previously the ‘gargoyles’ on the Chrysler Building are hood ornaments. The ones featured on the 31st floor are enlargements of the exact hood ornaments on the Chrysler automobiles of the day.

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The style and color of the ornaments blend perfectly with the lightly colored bricks.

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The crown is capped using ‘Nircosta’ stainless steel, as are the ornaments, window frames and needle.

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An entrance to the building continues the art deco theme.

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According to the documentation, the lobby is representative of German Impressionism.

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The lobby floors are massive pieces of African red granite, with Italian travertine in the elevator entrances.

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In addition to the travertine, the elevator lobbies have ornate wall designs.

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While many New York City landmarks won’t even let you in the lobby (talking to you Woolworth Building), visitors are welcome here, albeit only in the lobby.

The security guard did point out to me that we should wait for this specific express elevator to arrive and open as it has a unique interior.

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The ceiling has a large mural called ‘Transport and Human Endeavor’.

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A longer view of one of the elevator lobbies. There are 32 elevators in total.

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The lower level continues the art deco look, only in black.

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The Chrysler Building – One of the best.

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New York City – September 2018 – Faces at the Met

An afternoon at the Met gave me a subject – The Faces at the Met (real and art).

They speak for themselves.

 

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New York City – September 2018 – Grand Central Details

America’s greatest train station is Grand Central Terminal. While hundreds of thousands of people commute through the terminal every day, and nearly every tourist who comes to New York stops by, I had the opportunity (and the zoom) to check out close ups of some of the details.

The feature photo is a closeup of the clock and sculptures that are at the top of Grand Central facing south towards Park Avenue.

Let’s head inside.

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The iconic information kiosk clock backed by one of the schedule boards. The information kiosk is reached via an internal spiral staircase from the lower level of the terminal.

The clock was made by the Seth Thomas Clock Company. The clock has made appearances in numerous movies including North by Northwest, The Fisher King, the Godfather and others.

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The Beaux Arts Chandeliers frame the Main Concourse, with five on both the north and south side.

The bulbs have a basic look to them, but in reality they were replaced in 2009 with far more efficient fluorescent ones.

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Looking up from one of the lower level walkways you see a chandelier, skylights in the ceiling and the famed ceiling.

There are numerous photos on display in the terminal showing sunlight beaming through the side windows – something that is no longer possible because of the tall buildings surrounding GCT.

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Also in the lower level are some classic wooden benches. Before a restoration in the 1970s these benches were used for waiting passengers in the Main Concourse.

Since then, their primary use has been in the food court in the lower level, but others are in the corners of the lower level.

In addition the Springfield, Massachusetts train station recently installed some restored GCT wooden benches that were unused. They are currently on ‘permanent loan’ to Springfield, who restored them as part of the deal.

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While technically not in Grand Central Terminal, the Graybar Building has been closely associated with GCT since it’s construction in 1927.

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The building has the classic art deco mailboxes in the granite wall, as you walk through the GCT passage to Lexington Avenue (more on the Graybar Building later).

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Back in the Main Concourse one of the chandeliers accents the departure boards perfectly.

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The famous sky ceiling – 125 feet across and hung from steel trusses, the ceiling has 2,500 gold stars.

One of the earliest passengers in 1913 quickly figured out that the sky is ‘backwards’, on the ceiling east is on the west side of the concourse, and vice versa.

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Until the 1990s the grime was so bad the ceiling was barely noticeable. As a reminder they have left a black patch to show how dirty it was.

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A random look up shows amazing detail.

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GCT ‘hidden’ high up on one of the side walls.

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A ticket sellers window.

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Down in the lower level even the elevator lobbies have amazing detail.

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As do the track entrances.

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Heading out onto Lexington Avenue we see the main entrance to the Graybar Building. Note the giant reliefs on each side.

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Eagles are a recurring them in GCT, and the entire area.

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More detail on the exterior of the Graybar Building.

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The Graybar Rats – The sculpted rats are depicted as though they are climbing ropes that anchor a ship. In reality it is what is holding up the canopy over the entrance.

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Other canopy supports have more traditional artwork on them.

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Easily one of the most overlooked vintage New York Skyscrapers, the Graybar is worth spending some time looking up at.

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Another building that is closely associated with GCT is the Helmsley Building.

While not quite as famous as GCT’s clock facing south, the Helmsley clock greets the Park Avenue traffic coming from the north.

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This building too has numerous gargoyles and other sculptures throughout.

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More Helmsley Building detail.

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The former Postum Building at 250 Park Avenue is a prewar survivor where all the other buildings of it’s time (circa 1924) have long since been torn down and replaced with taller, newer giant glass boxes.

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Finally one last look at another of the famed GCT Eagles.

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