CitySketch – Post Office

In 440 BC the Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the Persian messenger system that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness of night” stood in their way. More than two millennia later, the main USPS building in NYC, the James A. Farley Post Office, ran an inspired inscription up Eighth Avenue.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

James Aloysius Farley was one of the first Irish American politicians to achieve success on a national level. He was instrumental in building the New Deal coalition of Catholics, labor unions, African-Americans, and farmers. He was chairman of the DNC and Postmaster General during FDR’s first two terms but didn’t believe a president should serve more than two terms and split with the president when he went for his third. Later, he devoted his energy to the passage of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution stating “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” It was ratified in 1951.

The building covers 8 acres in the middle of Manhattan, which is a large chunk of land on such a densely packed island. It was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966.

CitySketch – Bank of America Tower

On October 17, 1904, Amadeo Pietro Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in San Francisco to serve Italian immigrants whose fortunes were too small to be of interest to the American banks of the day. Unlike most of his fellow bankers, when the great earthquake struck San Francisco two years later Giannini was quick enough to get the deposits out of his vaults before they burned. By 1922 his bank was the Bank of America and Italy

In 2014, Bank of America paid $17 billion to the Justice Department in the largest settlement in US corporate history for its sale of toxic securities and sub-prime loans. Today it is the 2nd largest bank in America behind JPMorgan Chase with almost 11% of all bank deposits in the country.

The company’s headquarters are in Charlotte, NC but on the northwest corner of 42nd & 6th in Manhattan you’ll find the Bank of America Tower looking down on Bryant Park. It is the 4th tallest building in NYC and 6th tallest in the USA.

CitySketch: Textile

The Textile Building, on Fifth Avenue between 30th & 31st Streets, was built in 1920. Five and half million people lived in New York City at the time. On January 17 of that year the 18th Amendment of the US Constitution went into effect stating “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.” 

So our country has lost its mind before. Keep calm and carry on. 

Not to get judgmental, but either me or the Textile Building must be taking advantage of the 21st Amendment, stating “The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed,” because something is a little off-kilter with this drawing.

CitySketch: NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division

On the corner of Madison Avenue and 25th Street stands the New York State Supreme Court building, Appellate Division. Established in 1894 by the New York State Constitution, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Judicial Department holds jurisdiction over Manhattan and the Bronx. 3,000 appeals are heard there every year, which is 8.2 every day for you math majors.

From the courthouse website:
“Unusual for any architect, in any age, Lord was not only given complete control over the construction, but even over the art and decoration. Lord conceived of the building itself as an expression of the ideals of the law, which he achieved by integrating the architectural, pictorial and sculptural aspects into one monument. As the journal Public Improvements noted when the courthouse was opened in 1900, the building was “the first attempt in the city of New York to erect a building in which the utilitarian and the artistic are so combined as to make one harmonious whole.”

CitySketch: Gilsey House

The Gilsey House is something special. It looms over the corner of Broadway and 29th Street like some kind of phantom from another era.

From their website:
The hotel was luxurious – the rooms featured rosewood and walnut finishing, marble fireplace mantles, bronze chandeliers and tapestries  – and offered services to its guests such as telephones, the first hotel in New York to do so. 

It was a favorite of Diamond Jim Brady and Oscar Wilde, Samuel Clemens was a guest, and it attracted the theatrical trade at a time when the area – which became known as the “Tenderloin” – was becoming the primary entertainment and amusement district for New York’s growing population, with numerous theaters, gambling clubs and brothels.

CitySketch: Met Life Tower

The Met Life Tower, on 23rd Street between Madison and Park Avenues, was once the tallest building in the world. From 1909 until the Woolworth Building reared its head a couple of miles south on Broadway in 1913 there was no building on the planet that rose as high. The tower still has a bit of that attitude about it. Once you’ve been the biggest you never really forget it.

The structure of the Met Life Tower is based on a building that was four centuries old when it was built: the Campanile in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. There was a tower on the spot in Venice from the 9th Century until 1902 when the one from the 16th Century that inspired the Met Life Tower cracked and crumbled. Before the Venetians were able to reconstruct, New Yorkers beat them to it.

The Campanile – in honeymoon snapshots