Cranleigh Arts Centre
West Surrey Area
Museums & Art Galleries
The Architecture of New York
Report of the
lecture given by Mike Higginbottom BA MEd on July 27th 2011
lecturer this month, Mike Higginbottom, from Sheffield, chose as his subject "The
Architecture of New York". Never having been to New York, I was surprised
to discover how many attractive buildings it has.
Mike first visited
New York in 1981 and has returned many times. He started with a brief history.
It was first discovered by an Italian explorer, Verrazana in 1524, followed by
Henry Hudson in the 17th century and then the Dutch. The British gained
permanent control in 1674 and established the name New York (after the Duke of
York, brother of Charles II).
Within 200 years it had become America's largest city and grew even larger when
mass immigration, a rather gruesome process, took place through Ellis Island
towards the end of the 19th century.
Brooklyn Bridge, which took 15
years to build, was opened in 1883. It was the first steel suspension bridge
and an engineering marvel. Its pedestrian walkway presents a fantastic view of
Manhattan. Many bridges have been built since, including the George Washington
Bridge (1931), the Manhattan Bridge and the Queensborough Bridge (1909).
We were shown many of New York's famous buildings, starting with the 20 storey
Flatiron building (1902) which heralded the age of the skyscraper. It has a
unique structure with a narrow triangular base and is much photographed.
Thereafter it appears that every building erected had to be higher than the
previous one! What a good thing that Central Park was created - a green space
amongst the high rise.
Buildings which particularly impressed me were
the Woolworth Building (1913) with its gilded lobby in Gothic style, the Art
Deco Chrysler Building with its distinctive spire and the Grand Central
Terminal, a stunning building with a vaulted ceiling showing the signs of the
Nestling amongst the skyscrapers is St Paul's Chapel dating from 1766 and based
on St Martins in the Fields, London. George Washington worshipped here and his
pew can still be seen. Being a block away from the Twin Towers, it was much
used as a spiritual support centre at the time of the disaster. Mike likes to
experience its peace and tranquility. He also recommended the Cloisters Museum
which is constructed from medieval stone and artifacts from several French and
German monasteries, proving that not all things in New York are modern!
buildings of New York are best seen from the air as we saw from Mike's slides.
Although easy to find ones way around with the grid system, I cannot help
feeling that neck strain might be a problem when sightseeing!
Higginbottom with two of our members