A Pictorial Blog of Things I Make,
Items I Collect, Architecture I Love,
and Other Stuff

Monday, February 7, 2011

Manhattan Golden Guys

 Of the 51 works of sculpture sprinkled around Central Park, three are gilded--among them, this portrait bust of John Purroy Mitchel.

 Handsome, progressive, Kennedy-esque, Mitchel was mayor of New York City from 1914 to 1917--at 34, the youngest ever elected. He died 13 days shy of his 39th birthday when, seat belt recklessly unfastened, he fell 500 feet out of an airplane during a World War I training flight near Lake Charles, La. This is his memorial, near Fifth Avenue and East 90th Street

 On the Ukrainian-American Freedom Foundation at 136 Second Avenue is this plaque of Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), a poet whose work is considered the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature.

Puck, the knavish sprite from A Midsummer's Night Dream, poses with a prodigious pen over the doorway to what was once, at 295 Lafayette Street, headquarters of Puck, the nation's first humor magazine.

This gold-leafed composition by Augustus Saint-Gaudens of William Tecumseh Sherman is losing some of its luster because of weathering and the large number of pigeons "resting" on the monument, in Grand Army Plaza at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. In her hand a palm branch signifying peace, Nike, winged goddess of victory, leads the general and his lively steed.

 It is a falsehood that Washington Irving lived at 122 East 17th Street, address of the edifice to which this plaque is attached. The circa-1845 house was actually built for the writer's nephew, John T. Irving, and though Washington Irving was indeed a frequent visitor, his country estate Sunnyside in Tarrytown, N.Y., was home. 

 In defiance of Zeus, Prometheus gifted mortals on Earth (represented by the mountain-like base) with fire from the heavens (symbolized by the ring of zodiac signs). For this no-no, Zeus  punished the Titan by having him bound to a rock where a fearsome eagle feasted upon his liver only for it to regenerate and be re-devoured the next day ad infinitum--an aspect of the myth omitted from this 1934 Paul Manship sculpture, the focal point of Rockefeller Center.

 On the porch railing of the Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park South, are figures representing comedy and tragedy.  

  The bust above the Art Deco entrance of the Brill Building at 1619 Broadway is of Alan E. Lefcourt, the building-developer's son, who died in 1930, age 17. Composed in this homestead of music industry offices and studios were standards like "The Look of Love" by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, "The Loco-Motion" by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and "Calendar Girl" by Neil Sekada and Howard Greenfield. 

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