March 8, 2019 was International Women’s Day, but since 1987, the entire month of March has been designated National Women’s History Month in the U.S. We take this month to celebrate the achievements of American women, but especially to bring awareness to the challenges that women still face in our nation.
In the workforce, for example, the gender pay gap continues to be an issue, and while the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have made great strides in changing the conversation about sexual harassment. Nevertheless, much work still remains to be done, both in creating safe, co-respectful work environments and leveling the playing field with regard to entrepreneurship.
Nowhere is this felt more acutely than here in New York City, which is home to at least 359,000 women-owned businesses generating $50 billion in annual sales. Even though NYC was recently rated by Fortune as the best city in the world for women entrepreneurs, a recent report reveals that only eight percent of NYC women-owned businesses employ more people than the owner, and more than 70 percent of these women owners say they face challenges when it comes to raising capital, forming business relationships, v and even hiring staff.
For these reasons, in honor of both International Women’s Day and National Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled the following list of resources to support women-owned businesses in general, but especially those who are Kew tenants.
This sub-initiative of NYC’s Department of Small Businesses is a virtual hub of resources for women entrepreneurs. On this site, you can find informative events, connect with a mentor, discover resources for capital, and more, all for free.
New York City goes out of its way to contract for services from minority and women-owned businesses. This program provides information how to get certified as an M/WBE business in order to quality for city contracts.
This membership organization is dedicated to providing platforms for success to help self-employed women and women-owned businesses. Annual dues are reasonable, and they open up a whole array of opportunities for promotion and connection for your business.
This national organization is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S., offering a wide range of resources and support for women entrepreneurs, including educational resources, networking, grant opportunities, and more.
Ellevate is a dues-based business networking community specifically geared toward women entrepreneurs. The New York City chapter keeps a full schedule of meetups, seminars, panel discussions, and small “squads” for mutual support and promotion.
This organization features both an online community/podcast and offline conferences designed to support, inform, and empower women entrepreneurs. The next NYC conference, slated for May 4, 2019, will feature a large roster of speakers discussing entrepreneurship, branding, social media, and much more.
A non-profit organization for the empowerment of women entrepreneurs, the Tory Burch Foundation helps women business owners by helping them connect to funding as well as offering educational programs for women owners in NYC. The Foundation’s one-year fellowship provides more in-depth education and mentoring for a select group of applicants.
Bonus Section: Funding Resources/Investors for Women-Owned Businesses
A number of individuals and firms specifically provide venture capital for women-led businesses. Here are a few to check out:
In the past few years, women entrepreneurs have made great progress to change the gender bias in the business world, with as many as 1,821 new women-owned businesses launching every day. But while women now own as many as 40 percent of all companies in the U.S., most of these women are still “solopreneurs,” and their companies receive about 45 percent less funding than companies run by their male counterparts. Hopefully, with the help of some the resources listed above, those numbers will increase.
This month, we encourage everyone to identify women-owned businesses near you and give them your business as often as possible.
Arthur Brounet, who painted the mural in the lobby of 1133 Broadway, was a leading “decorator,” as he styled himself, of the Gilded Age.
In 1896 when he painted the St. James mural, he was about 28. Ten years later, in 1899, Brounet moved from 678 Lexington Avenue to the St. James, where he was to remain almost to the end of his life, changing rooms several times. Perhaps it was the mural itself that first brought him to the building.
Brounet had arrived in New York from Le Havre, France in 1888 at the age of 20. He was married with three children, who later helped in his business, and he owned his own home uptown in the Bronx or Yonkers. The New York Times announced his death at 75 on February 28, 1941.
We don’t know much more about his life or have an image of him. Brounet’s life was defined by his work, and luckily there is a lot of information about his creations.
It is important to remember that Brounet wasn’t only a muralist, but a decorator, and he was a “decorator” of choice for major architects. He was particularly in demand for theatres, office and civic buildings, banks, and fine homes, among others. As is true of The St. James mural, his work was sought after because it fit so well with Neo-Classical architecture in vogue at the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries. His projects were as diverse as decorating the Riverside Drive chateau of Charles M. Schwab among other residences, many play and movie theatres, and even a splendid courthouse.
We have copies (not ideal) of two ads Brounet placed for his work. They do show rough outlines of his residential projects and indicate his business as including: mural paintings, furniture and cabinet work, draperies and upholstering.
Brounet Murals in New York
Unfortunately, many of the theatres and homes he designed and provided murals for have disappeared over the past 100 years, but some sterling examples survive.
In New York City, besides the St. James mural, there is the Brounet mural in the lobby of the AMC Movie Theatre on 42nd Street. You may recall this theatre was moved over several lots on 42nd Street on March 1, 1998 during the redevelopment of Time Square (yes, the entire theatre). It is putatively the theatre where Abbott and Costello first met and teamed up. Originally known as the Eltinge Theatre, it was designed by master architect Thomas W. Lamb who hired Brounet to create murals for the lobby and auditorium in the “Egyptian” style, likely as a result of their great success working together on the huge 2,267-seat City Theatre on 14th Street (now lost).
Additionally, right here in New York, Brounet decorated the interiors of the Selwyn and Cort Theaters in Eighteenth Century French style. and he decorated theatres throughout Brooklyn, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Two Fine Examples of Brounet’s Work Outside NYC
Should you ever find yourself in Richmond, Virginia or Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania you might want to see the wonderful examples of Brounet’s work that these small cities still assiduously preserve.
Perhaps the greatest trove of Brounet’s extant work is at the beautiful and recently restored Byrd Theatre in Richmond.
Incredible as it may seem today the Byrd Theatre opened as a movie house in 1928, and the interior decoration was executed by Brounet’s studio in New York. There are eleven paintings by Brounet in the theatre (six within the arches in the side walls, two in the front boxes, and three in the foyer), and all are wondrously preserved.
An article on the Urban Scale Richmond website notes that the color scheme of the theatre was also created by Brounet and the murals “undoubtedly” painted by him on canvas in New York and shipped to the theatre. All of the paintings use classical allegories that reference aspects of the drama and fine arts.
Despite Brounet’s interest in the classics, his work here has moved from the strictly classical forms in the St. James mural of 1896 closer to the Neoclassical models of the early 20th Century, which were gaining in popularity when the theatre opened. In addition to the major murals, there are small cartouches and panels around the auditorium by Brounet’s Studio, continuing the theme of the dance begun in the lobby. The Byrd is a cohesive composition, with the murals, cartouches, relief decorations and fixtures by other artists complimenting each other to create a harmonious whole.
The majestic Luzerne County Court House designed by McCormick & French is found in the relatively small rural town Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania. This jewel, also recently refurbished, is filled with fine decorative art throughout, but “The Diamond City” three-panel foyer ceiling, as well as the schemes for the Commissioner’s office, several other offices, and Courtroom 1 were all by Brounet. All of these design works follow his pattern for high symbolism and Neo-Classical forms.
Many New Yorkers recognize Open House New York for its annual OHNY weekends, opening up some of New York’s richest architectural gems to the public—but fewer people realize this organization holds a number of different programs year-round. Among the most intriguing is its Urban Systems series, a program which takes a year-long look at different aspects of the infrastructure and systems that keep this amazing city functional. The latest in the series, “Spaces of Justice,” explores the architecture and infrastructure of NYC’s justice system and joins the ongoing conversation about the future of this system. In this second installment of our spotlight on OHNY, we talk to Executive Director Gregory Wessner about the details and highlights of this remarkable program.
Your 2018-2019 Urban Systems series is Spaces of Justice – can you tell us more about the program and its importance?
“Open House Weekend is obviously what we’re best known for, but throughout the year we try to use the Open House platform to look at issues in the city that have some kind of critical importance. With Spaces of Justice in particular, there have been a lot of conversations and debates around the future of Riker’s Island and related topics. The crime rate in New York City has dropped dramatically over the past 30 years—by some estimates, upwards of around 80 percent. Considering this drop in crime over the years, along with other factors, the fact is we have a criminal justice infrastructure that was designed and built for a different time. Given the openness to thinking about new ways of handling these kinds of issues, given the debate around Riker’s Island, and given the drop in crime, we thought it was a good opportunity to ask questions about what justice looks like in New York City today, and what it could look like moving forward.
I think that’s what is powerful about OHNY, because it’s taking people into these spaces. Sometimes they’re beautiful buildings that are historic and lovely and wonderful to appreciate. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the architecture, but it has to do with how those spaces function within the city. The Spaces of Justice series takes a look at these spaces that are obviously critically important to the health of the city and say a lot about our values as a community. The series is about getting people in to see what the spaces of justice look like, and at the same time, starting a bigger conversation about what they could be as we go forward. There’s a lot of conversation not only about closing Riker’s Island but also what could replace it, including this network of borough-based jails that the mayor is talking about. Ultimately, to have these kinds of conversations, we need to be informed. That’s what we’re trying to do: to deepen that conversation so we all have a better understanding of what all of this means, what it looks like and how we make choices about the future.”
What have been some of the high points and key takeaways of the series so far?
“Honestly, every single program has been incredibly powerful. It launched in May with a presentation by the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Elizabeth Glazer. She gave a broad overview of where the city is right now. She explained the past three decades’ drop in crime, where we’re at now, and what this means for the future. The drop in crime is why we can even talk about closing Riker’s Island. As bad as Riker’s is, the daily population there is half of what it used to be, so it really opens up possibilities for doing something innovative and more humane.
Every program has been amazing. We did a screening of a documentary by Bill Moyers about Riker’s interspersed with a panel discussion on the topic. Two of the panelists had been incarcerated at Riker’s, so hearing their firsthand experience made this the most powerful program I had been to in my entire life—and I don’t say that lightly. It really opened everyone’s eyes to just how bad things are. We talk about injustice around the world. We think New York is this beacon of liberty, freedom, and openness, but right in the middle of the East River, there’s what is essentially a horrifying penal colony.
Another key part of this series were the places that we went to that are operated by the Center for Court Innovation. There is a lot of really innovative and interesting work being done around issues of social justice and how to address crime, rehabilitation, and restorative justice. It was a sort of back and forth between seeing, at the one end of the spectrum, how bad some of the conditions are, but at the other end, the amazing people in this city that are doing inspiring work. It gave everyone a sense of optimism about the possibilities for the future.”
How much longer will the program run?
“The people who did the Bill Moyers documentary are doing a follow-up documentary which is in production right now. It’s about not just the plans to close Riker’s, but also the plans to replace it with this network of borough-based jails. I’m told that the documentary is supposed to be done by mid-March, so we would screen that documentary with a panel discussion, and that would probably be the last program we do for this series, leaving the public with the question: Where do we go from here?”
What can you tell us about the next Urban Spaces series?
“We are working on it right now. It will deal with the issues of transit and transportation—a topic I think everyone will appreciate. The inspiration had a lot to do with the L train construction plans, but the truth is the entire subway system is a bit of a mess. Remember when they were calling it the summer of hell? When that happened, I think everyone began to realize, ‘Oh, the city can’t really function without a functioning transit system,’ and you begin to realize how it impacts everything.
At the same time, there are so many interesting things happening in the transit world—things like CitiBike, Uber and Lyft, the New York City ferry system and so on. So, the series is going to look at how we move around the city. We have an aging infrastructure, but, at the same time, we have all of this innovative technology coming down the line, so we’re looking at how all these things work together. It should be fun.”
If you’d like to learn more about upcoming OHNY programs, including Urban Spaces, you can receive regular updates by joining their mailing list via their website.
Here in NYC, the dead of winter can be one of the most challenging times of the year when it comes to morale and momentum at work. During the months between the end of the holidays and the start of spring, there’s not a lot to look forward to on the calendar, and the short, cloudy days affect our mood. (The recent bitter cold spell from the polar vortex certainly hasn’t helped either.) You and your teammates may be feeling a decrease in energy coupled with a general feeling of claustrophobia or even mild depression. Long-standing clients can become unsettlingly silent during these months, too.
What can you do to combat the winter doldrums and help get energy levels back up? Let’s explore some ideas on two fronts: boosting employee morale and improving client engagement.
Boosting Employee Morale
You might try one or more of the following ideas to restore staff morale and momentum.
Hold a brainstorming session. Involving members of your team in your company’s creative process is one of the best ways to generate excitement and engagement. Consider having one or more team meetings, in which employees can bring ideas to the table about growing the company, enhancing your brand, or developing an innovative solution for a client, etc. Encourage and support creativity wherever you can. Your team have some great ideas that might actually benefit your company and clients in the process.
Brighten the work space. If you’ve been thinking about updating and redecorating the office, now may be the perfect time to do it. Consider accenting walls or furnishings with cheery colors.
Plan a company outing. Socializing after work is a great way to boost morale and bond with your team. Even planning a simple dinner can go a long way with your team this time of year. If you want to up the ante, try a comedy club, or maybe someone can score cheap tickets to an art installation, a Broadway (or off-Broadway) show or a sports event. (This is NYC, after all.)
Improving Client Engagement
The winter months can affect your clients as well as your employees. You may start to feel distant or disconnected from your customers, and it’s likely not your fault. If you’re concerned that this seasonal apathy might cause your customers to lose interest and look elsewhere, here are some ideas to re-engage them.
Announce a value-adding improvement to your product or service. The best way to maintain client loyalty is never to stop innovating. Always look for new ways to create exceptional value so your clients never feel the need to shop your competition. What inexpensive improvement can you make to your product or service to make it more valuable—without upselling it? Examples: New client portal, newsletter, survey – how can we serve you better? Also, a special e-mail announcing awards or an especially successful case study.
Offer a special promotion. This could be anything from a new loyalty program to a “Valentine’s Day discount” because you love your customers so much. Maybe you can launch a campaign that rewards your clients for referring new business to you. The actual promotion doesn’t matter as much as the idea of having one; it keeps you on your customers’ minds and conveys the idea that things are happening in your company.
Schedule a customer appreciation event. Consider doing a customer social—a no-obligation, no-hard-sell gathering just to thank your customers for their loyalty. Appetizers, wine, door prizes and even a bit of live music may be well worth the investment to keep clients engaged for the coming year. A lunch with the staff in the office is a great way to put a face in the minds of your clients, It helps your clients to know the people you work with everyday and binds customers closer to your staff and company.
Here’s the good news: Spring is coming. It always does. By being proactive with your team and your clientele during the winter doldrums, you can make it to April without missing a beat.
Early in January, we shared the difference between goals and resolutions and encouraged readers to set some reachable goals for 2019. Right about now, chances are you’re either making great progress on those goals or on the verge of abandoning them. If it’s the latter, don’t be too disillusioned with yourself. We’ve all been there at one time or another; it’s part of human nature. Setting goals is the easy part—sticking to them is the challenge. The key to staying on top of your goals is to exercise discipline, remember it’s a matter of developing new good habits, and keep revisiting your goals throughout the year. Let’s explore four tips for helping you stay focused on your 2019 goals.
Remember Why You Set the Goal
Don’t just recall what you want to achieve; think about what prompted you to set the goal in the first place. Your “why” is your motivation, and that’s what we’re looking for here. You know what you want—you just have to reclaim your motivation from time to time. When you’re tempted to slack off, refocus your attention on why you want to reach this goal. It will give you the extra push you need to stay on track.
Track Your Progress
One of our earlier recommendations for goal-setting was to set up “markers” or milestones throughout the year for you to measure your progress. Stop and evaluate where you are on your timeline; have you reached your first milestone yet? If you’re behind, don’t berate yourself and don’t get discouraged. The idea here is to keep the goal top-of-mind, so you keep working toward it and don’t forget about it.
Find an Accountability Partner
If you haven’t already done so, find someone you trust, share your goals with them and ask them to follow up with you. Just verbalizing your goals to someone else helps make you somewhat accountable, but if you ask them to hold you to account, you’ll have an even better support system.
Don’t Give Up – Refresh Your Focus
Most importantly—don’t give up, even if you have already fallen behind your own expectations. The year is still young, so now is the perfect time to remind yourself of your goals and refresh your sense of focus. Keep revisiting your goals throughout the year, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful and productive 2019.
Keep thinking about how rewarding it will be and how great you’ll feel about yourself when you look back on what you’ve accomplished when 2020 is on the horizon.
New York City has a rich, complex history, and the city’s architecture has played a role in creating that history. Urban planners have had unprecedented challenges accommodating the overwhelming numbers of people arriving here to visit, live, study, and work. New York’s architecture is part of the mosaic that tells that story, and that’s why Open House New York (OHNY) is such an intriguing and vital organization for understanding our history. Through year-round programs and the annual Open House New York Weekends, OHNY provides audiences with unparalleled access to New York’s amazing architecture, and to the people who continue to help design, build, and preserve the city.
During the most recent Open House New York Weekend last October, attendees came away with a new appreciation of NYC’s rich, textured history as revealed through some of its most interesting buildings. They also came away with a fresh awareness of the role architecture plays in society in general. We recently spoke with Gregory Wessner, OHNY’s Executive Director, who shared with us some of the best takeaways from the weekend.
Q: What were some of the high points from this past OHNY Weekend?
A: One of the highlights this year was that we expanded the OHNY Weekend to three days. In the past, it has always been Saturday and Sunday, and this year we partnered with the Pratt Center for Community Development to introduce what we call Factory Friday, where we open up about a dozen manufacturing spaces all over the city to give the public a chance to see what new manufacturing looks like. That was an exciting new highlight for this year, and it will be an ongoing feature for future OHNY Weekends.
We also did a series called Works by Women, featuring spaces that had women as their principal designers, to celebrate the contributions that women are making toward shaping the city. Architecture is generally perceived to be a male-dominated profession, but there is a tremendous amount of work throughout all five boroughs being designed by women. This was a way to show and celebrate those contributions.
We were also excited this year to collaborate with the Gotham Center for New York City History, which is based at CUNY. The collaboration was inspired by the book Gotham, written by Mike Wallace and Edwin Burrows, which is an amazing history of New York. The Gotham Center did a whole series of podcasts, about two dozen of them, featuring noted historians who would each talk about specific sites that were participating in OHNY Weekend, sharing interesting stories from that site’s history. This project ended up being a great addition to the weekend.
Q: What were some of the most popular events or spaces featured this year?
A: Some sites are open to the public, and some require reservations. For the sites requiring reservations, this year we booked about 10,500 on the first day! I’d say 80% of them were gone within the first hour. So, the short answer is that everything is popular.
As to the sites that do not require reservations, City Hall is always a big draw, which makes me really happy. I think one of Open House’s important contributions is opening up buildings that otherwise are closed to the public. City Hall is theoretically open to the public, but you really need a purpose in order to go there. So, I think it’s wonderful for us to be able to let the public in, working with the Public Design Commission at City Hall, to let people see what NYC’s center of government looks like.
Also, this year, the Manhattan Borough President displayed the complete set of Randall’s Farm Maps which are maps drawn around 1820 to survey the existing conditions of Manhattan Island before the street grid was introduced. These maps are extremely famous in the city-planning world, but they’ve only ever been displayed in their entirety twice, and both times have been for Open House Weekend.
Another popular site is the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village. During OHNY Weekend only, they open the tower attached to it so people can climb to the top. It’s a once-a-year opportunity, and you get great views of the village.
The final site I’d like to mention was the Dime Savings Bank in downtown Brooklyn – it has been closed since they’re going through a renovation and building an apartment building next door, but people could go inside just for Open House Weekend.
The next OHNY Weekend is already on the calendar, scheduled for October 19th and 20th, 2019. To receive regular updates and other news from this remarkable organization, you can sign up for OHNY’s mailing list on its website.
Stop by Fête Home’s studio at Suite 544 in 1133 Broadway to view their beautiful collection of tabletop, decorative accessories, pillows, throws and more! January 22nd to 25th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fête will be offering many of their exquisite items at 40% off the regular price.
Fête designs home collections with the belief that homes are sanctuaries for celebration, mood, and personality. The founders base their aesthetic in elegance and gracious living and design their products for real life. With five new collections each year, Fête makes certain that every object you place in your home sparks joy and tells a story. And with no one in between Fête Home and you, there are no mark ups. So live, love and celebrate your home effortlessly and affordably…and now at a greater bargain than ever.
One of the many wonderful things about NYC: We’re never at a loss for new food and drink experiences. As of late December, NoMad workers and residents now have yet another unique place to unwind and dine after a long day at work—via a back alley just off Park Avenue South.
Callejón (“alleyway” in Spanish, of course) is a new tapas bar that just opened up behind Cleo, the fine dining establishment in the Mondrian Park Avenue hotel. You can either get to it by walking through Cleo (if you’re daring), or through the alley entrance behind the hotel just off 30th Street. Once inside, you find yourself surrounded by an eclectic array of “Sharpie murals” drawn by artist Sergio Mora depicting flamenco dancers, toreadors, and other images of Spanish life.
Find a private table, sit at the bar, or relax at the large communal table as you enjoy thoughtfully-crafted tapas such as skirt steak toast; shrimp with garlic; lemon and chiles; or serrano ham butter on warm bread. Also, try the daily charcuterie selection, and pair it all with an authentic Spanish wine, sangria, or a build-your-own gin-and-tonic.
2019 has arrived and millions of people will be making their New Year’s resolutions. Most common among these promises we make ourselves are: To lose weight, to get into shape, to save money, to quit smoking…the list goes on. Indeed, the beginning of a new calendar year is a great time to start with fresh intentions, and you might even be inspired to make a resolution or two concerning your business.
But here’s a suggestion: Avoid making resolutions. Set goals instead.
What’s Wrong with New Year’s Resolutions?
There’s nothing inherently bad about making a New Year’s resolution—and yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, most of us view resolutions with a negative connotation. Why? Because the vast majority of us fail to keep them—year after year. In fact, 80 percent of the resolutions made this week will not make it to mid-February, and fewer than 10 percent of us will come to the end of the year feeling we were successful with our resolution.
Why are these numbers so dismal? Simple: A resolution is more of a wish than a goal. It’s an empty promise, something we wish to happen without any game plan for making it happen. When it fails, it becomes one more broken promise—and, quite often, one more blow to our self-esteem. This is why we recommend replacing resolution-making with goal setting. Instead of merely expressing a vague intention with no traction, set a practical goal, then develop a strategy to reach it. You don’t have to stop at one goal, either: Consider setting a number of goals for yourself and your business this year. This practice offers a greater sense of purpose for the year, not to mention a much higher rate of success.
Tips for Setting Successful Goals
Granted, a goal for its own sake doesn’t contain any magic. It won’t come to pass without some effort on your part. Thus, one of the keys of successful goal setting is to set goals you are actually motivated to achieve. Let’s look at a few practical tips for setting goals with a higher success rate.
Set goals that are ambitious but not impossible.
There’s a happy middle ground between goals that are too small and ones that are too large. If you set goals that don’t really challenge you (i.e., “baby steps”), you might reach them, but you’ll feel no sense of growth, because they took no effort. If, on the other hand, you set a goal so lofty that it’s impossible to reach, you’ll probably lose your motivation by February—just like a resolution. Try to aim for a target somewhere between these two extremes. Set a goal that stretches you without utterly discouraging you.
Set up milestones to help you reach your goal.
How do you reach an ambitious goal? You break it down into smaller, more achievable pieces. We can refer to these as milestones—markers along the way that help you stay on track through the year. If you set a goal to double your revenue this year, how much additional revenue should you have by April or by July? If your goal is to increase your client base by 50 percent, what marketing tools will you use to accomplish that goal? How much of that increase do you think will come from referrals? From email lists? From Google Advertising? Don’t just express intention; try to map out how you will get there.
Replace bad habits with better ones.
Bad habits are often obstacles to achieving goals, so here’s a secret to both personal and professional success: You don’t break a bad habit by willpower. You break it by replacing it with a better habit. The reason this is true is that willpower had nothing to do with how you developed the bad habit in the first place. Bad habits are caused by repetition, and good habits are established in exactly the same way. From a business standpoint, you won’t improve your productivity by simply willing it so. You must weed out the non-productive habits and replace them with better routines that become second nature with repetition.
Every new year presents an opportunity for a fresh start—the chance to close one chapter and open a new one. Don’t waste the opportunity by making empty promises for yourself or your business that contain no mechanism for fulfillment. Make the most of this year by writing down some tangible, achievable goals, then purposefully focusing your energy toward reaching those goals. You may or may not reach them all, but even with what you achieve, you’re far more likely to look back on 2019 as a productive and prosperous year.
The end of the year typically presents a wonderful opportunity to “close the books” on the year that was and set the stage for the upcoming year. For many of us (not all), our schedules tend to slow down this time of year as we, along with many of our clients and customers, are taking some “down time” with family and friends. This gives us a little extra time to reflect and plan—time we don’t often get at other times of the year. Before you get completely immersed in next year’s calendar, it’s worth the extra effort to look back on the prior year, to celebrate victories, learn from mistakes, and take a pause before launching into a new year. The following tips are designed to help you hit your own personal “reset” button for 2019.
Take an Inventory of Successes and Failures
This first exercise may be the most challenging for some, but once you’ve gone through it, the next steps become much easier. Here’s where you take an honest look at 2018 to explore your personal and professional victories and defeats, to see what lessons you can take from each of them going into the next year. The goal isn’t to determine whether you had a good or bad year, or to weigh in on our personal or professional worth. It’s simply to see what you can learn from the past year that will help improve your business and/or personal life going forward. Try to be as neutral as possible during the exercise without taking anything too personally. The exercise will work on both a personal or business level, but for our purposes we’ll focus on the business application going forward.
We recommend making two lists: One that enumerates your company’s greatest accomplishments and successes in 2018, and one that itemizes the company’s shortcomings and mistakes.
For your list of successes: Evaluate what you did right that caused the success. Is there a way you can replicate the process that led to the success or, better yet, scale it? How can you leverage that success into greater success for 2019?
For your list of failures: See if you can identify the root cause of the failure. (The “5 Whys”exercise can be particularly helpful here.) Was the failure just bad luck, or is there something you can do to shore up your defenses, so it doesn’t happen again?
Clean and Declutter
This next exercise is far more tangible and practical: Before launching into the new year take a day or two to go through your office and declutter. Organize any accumulating piles of paperwork, junk mail and other “stuff” that might have piled up on your desk. Throw away anything that is irrelevant and file away anything you need for future reference. Try to start your first work day of 2019 with a clean office and desk. There’s something psychologically invigorating about this process, if nothing else.
Get a New Planner
Another place you can declutter is in your daily/weekly planner. If you use a physical, bound planner, you might be able to buy refill pages for the upcoming year, but you might just want to toss the whole thing and start fresh. If you use some sort of online planner, go through and delete irrelevant entries similarly to how you just decluttered your desk. It’s another way to send the message that with a new year comes a new plan and new possibilities.
Take Time for Yourself
Once you’ve reset by taking a professional inventory, cleaning and decluttering, it’s time to reset personally. Try taking at least a couple of days away from the office, away from family and home obligations, to “unplug” yourself from the routine. This might take the form of anything from a mindfulness retreat to a mini-vacation—or just ducking into your favorite nook to read a book. Whatever helps you pause for a couple of days before jumping into the new year—take time for yourself.
Sometimes we dread the New Year out of sheer exhaustion. The practices described above can help clear out the cobwebs and give you a fresh perspective so you can launch into 2019 with a fresh sense of energy, purpose, and optimism.
The Townsend Building was built simultaneously with the St. James. Both buildings express very different but wonderful designs because they were created by noted figures in the history of architecture — design leaders of their day. Cyrus L. Eidlitz, who designed the Townsend in a more retrained classical style than the exuberant St. James, was the son of an influential New York architect, Leopold Eidlitz, one of the founders of the American Institute of Architects. Cyrus was educated in New York, Geneva, Switzerland and Stuttgart, where he studied architecture at the Polytechnic Institute.
Eidlitz is noted for several important buildings, including the Buffalo Library (demolished), the Dearborn Railroad Station (demolished), and the Association of the American Bar of the City of New York at 42 West 44th, which is still occupied by its original occupant — an oddity in New York.
However, he is probably best known for designing One Times Square, the former New York Times Building on Times Square. When the Times moved from Park Row to 42nd Street in 1905, the square was known as Longacre Square, but Eidlitz’s building would eventually give its name to the square. The building, where the ball has dropped on New Year’s Eve since 1907, was resurfaced in 1963 and has been covered with signage for decades, but the original building is still under there somewhere.
In many ways, just as impressive as these architectural gems are the influences Eidlitz had on the building industry. Eidlitz partnered with structural engineer Andrew C. McKenzie in 1900 to form one of the first firms to put architecture and engineering on an equal footing. It was the ideal team for its day, because new challenges were appearing all the time — such as building the Times building on an incredibly small slice of property (only 4,000 sq. ft.) over subway lines. Not only did they create the second tallest building in the city at the time, but also they connected it to a subterranean infrastructure, incorporating the subway stop being built underneath into the basement levels.
Their dual expertise also allowed them to be pioneers in a completely new category of building — the telephone building, something that the firm and its successors would be known for down to the present day. Their Bell Laboratories building at 463 West Street was for a time the largest industrial research center in the United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and further designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Many early technological inventions were developed in the Bell building, including automatic telephone panel and crossbar switches, the first experimental talking movies (1923), black-and-white and color TV, video telephones, radar, the vacuum tube, medical equipment, the development of the phonograph record and the first commercial broadcasts, including the first broadcast of a baseball game and the New York Philharmonic with Arturo Toscanini conducting. It served as the headquarters for the company from 1925 to the early 1960s. The site was also the home for part of the Manhattan Project during World War II, and shortly after the war, the transistor was invented here. Richard Meier refitted it in 1970 as the Westbeth Artists Community.
Eidlitz withdrew from the firm in 1910 and died in 1921, but the firm he began with McKenzie would march on through many changes of partnerships over the century. During these years, the firm became noted for its particular expertise in the technical building field, creating many new Bell buildings, the outstanding deco-styled Western Union Building at 60 Hudson Street, Columbia’s School of Engineering, and The Goddard Space Center, to name only a very few. Today, Eidlitz’s firm still exists under the name of Haines, Lundberg & Waehler (HLW), and its ancestral line is clear. Just a look at recent projects noted in Wikipedia confirms the firm’s deep involvement with technical buildings and their challenges:
“Exactly 100 years after the firm’s beginning with a commission to design the first telephone building in New York, a new project for NYNEX Corporation was initiated . . . the firm (HLW) has extended to broadcast, film and television industries. For Fox Studios in Los Angeles, HLW created a 50-acre . . . campus that housed the first fully digital network broadcast center. Additional 21st century work include the United Nations Secretariat Building and . . . and Google’s East Coast Headquarters at 111 Eighth Avenue.”
The gentleman who designed our building left us and the world quite a legacy.
When The Townsend (12 floors) and St. James (16 floors) were built they were among the tallest buildings in the city at the time, but in those days height came with certain reservations. People simply weren’t used to high buildings and elevators were a new invention. Also, there was public anxiety about the possibility of fire in taller structures, because fire departments weren’t equipped to reach above the sixth and seventh floors.
The Townsend’s initial offering to the public in 1897 included this claim: “The fronts are of stone and it is fireproof throughout.” The boast would be sorely tested in less than three years by a severe fire. While the claim to fireproofing was made often, Christopher Gray the late architectural writer for The New York Times, noted that The Townsend lived up to its claims: “In an age when supposedly fireproof buildings regularly burned to the ground, The Townsend Building fire provided an object lesson that fireproof construction, when properly carried out, was not a fiction.”
On the morning of January 1, 1900, a fire broke out in Room 1104 on the eleventh floor of The Townsend at 1123 Broadway, most probably in a desk drawer. The room was 14 ft. wide by 30 ft. deep. Although small, it was subdivided into three smaller rooms by hardwood and glass partitions and filled with desks, papers, cabinets, shelving and furniture — all of which combined to provide a dense amount of flammable material.
It was a holiday so no one was around to notice the fire for some time. When the building staff became aware they tried to extinguish it with two streams of water, but it had become too severe for them to make any headway. The fire department came, took charge, and eventually quelled the fire being able to access the floors with the building’s elevators.
Accounts at the time say that sufficient heat was generated that it destroyed everything in the office, warped an iron safe, cracked glass transoms and windows (even at a distance from the fire), and melted the copper cornice on the building’s cornice two floors up. However, the raging fire was contained within Room 1104. Of course, there was smoke and water damage to rooms nearby and below, but the fire never spread because the fireproofing remained intact around the columns, walls, arches of the floor above, and the floor beams.
The Real Estate Record & Guide noted the significance of the limited damage in an article on January 27th, 1900: “The recent fire on the 11th Floor of the Townsend Building, at the corner of 25th St. and Broadway, is of more than passing interest as it demonstrates what has often been claimed for first-class fireproof construction — that a fire can be practically confined to a single room, without damage to the structural parts of the buildings, when properly protected by fire-resisting materials.”
In fact, in 1911, there was tremendous loss of life in the Triangle Waistcoat Factory fire. The great loss of life was due to the fact that it took place on the eight, ninth and tenth floors. The fire department could not reach it, because elevator tracks warped and fire escapes collapsed due to poor pinning into the structure of the building. There was also poor fireproofing and emergency planning.
So, what was different in the Triangle Waistcoat Factory fire (which took place 11 years later) from that in the Townsend (built four years before the Asch Building?) Nothing, except that the Townsend was so superiorly fireproofed. In fact, The Townsend would become an example of the safety of high-rise construction as the city began to reach higher and higher in the early part of the 20th Century.
Sitting near the heart of NoMad at 1133 Broadway, the historic St. James Building stands as a reminder of New York in the height of the Gilded Age—a time when this neighborhood first became a gathering spot for noted authors, financiers, statesmen and others among New York’s elite. These days, however, few people realize the deeper historic significance of this building—namely, that Bruce Price, the man who designed the St. James and kept his offices here, was also one of the most influential architects of his time.
Beginnings and Career
Born in Maryland in 1845, Price studied at Princeton before eventually settling in NYC in 1877. During his career, Price gained great renown for both his commercial and residential projects across the Northeastern U.S. and throughout Canada. He also had a profound impact on shaping the emerging NYC skyline. A master of refinement in architecture, Price was known for his Neoclassical/Beaux-Arts and Romanesque designs as well as his innovations in Shingle Style and Modernist architecture—his buildings reflecting the elegance and abundance of the Gilded Age itself.
Along with the St. James Building, Price is credited with designing numerous Manhattan buildings. Among the most notable: the Bank of the Metropolis; the International Bank; the American Surety Building, a landmark considered one of NYC’s most important early skyscrapers; and the Richard Morris Hunt Memorial in Central Park (in collaboration with sculptor Daniel Chester French).
Price’s influence can also be seen across Canada, particularly the numerous hotels and stations he designed for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, arguably his crowning achievement, is listed as a National Historic Site of Canada and is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. It has become so completely identified with Quebec that it has become a de facto symbol of the city.
A master of design on a small scale as well, Price also designed, patented and built the unique parlor bay-window train cars that were used by the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Boston and Albany Railroad during this time.
Another of Price’s notable achievements, perhaps the most influential of his career, was Tuxedo Park, located north of New York City. A planned community consisting of “cottages” (more like mansions) built between the late 1800s and the turn of the century, Tuxedo Park Estates became a haven for some of the most notable people of the time. As the prime architect for the project, Price designed more than two dozen structures in the community, including the post office, the library and the since-demolished Tuxedo Club. Price’s cottages would eventually house his own family along with notables such as Mark Twain, J.P. Morgan and Dorothy Draper. Perhaps most importantly, Price’s cottages would eventually be cited as a major influence on Frank Lloyd Wright and other modern architects such as Robert Venturi.
Daughter Emily Post
Among the famous residents of Tuxedo Park’s was Price’s own daughter, Emily Post. A noted author and columnist, Post echoed her father’s legacy in her own way by establishing herself as a “social architect”—a renowned expert on all things etiquette and manners. Her book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home, her first etiquette book of many, solidified her reputation as a national symbol of manners for modern society.
As for our building at 1133 Broadway—completed in 1896, the St. James is rapidly approaching its 125th birthday. At 16 stories, this building was among the first high-rise office structures in the neighborhood that would eventually become known as NoMad. Not only did Price keep his own offices here, but the St. James became a hub for other notable architects—including Henry Pelton, Daniel Burnham (who designed the Flatiron Building/Fuller Building), and John Russell Pope (who also contributed to the Tuxedo Park project). Today, as part of the landmarked Madison Square North Historic District, 1133 Broadway continues its legacy as a haven for businesses focused on creativity and design—including the many numerous architects found among our tenants.
Goralnick was inspired by architectural elements, details, and aesthetics from the Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz building built in 1896: its gracious lobby is sheathed in white marble, bronze colored stone details on the floors, brass reveals that frame the exterior of the elevator doors, and the square wooden corner elements on the mirrors opposite the elevators.
For those who knew the elevators now being replaced, the transformation is remarkable. The updated elevator cabs are handsome and true to the spirit of The Townsend and its lobby. The fresh look of the cabs emphatically reflects the faster, more efficient service delivered by the new elevator system, equipped with the latest technology.
Goralnick explains, “The goal was to create a look that honors the existing structure, but is both modern and functional. We selected two porcelain materials from neighboring NoMad business, Porcelanosa – a white slab for the walls and a bronze colored stone for the floor. Harkening to square wood pyramidal details of the corners of the mirrors in the lobby, we laid out a grid defined by brass inlays and reveals. The corners are highlighted by brass at the top, with contrasting bronze tile at the base. These new axes on the walls were carried through the floor tile and were used to create rectangular modules for LED lighting panels overhead. A brass control panel and new railing complete the overall look.”
In a simple stroke of genius, Goralnick literally created more standing room by replacing the over-scaled back railing that made the cabs feel even smaller. The previous cramped feeling of The Townsend Building cabs, with muddy colored curved walls and dim incandescent lighting has given way to a fresh new look – bright and clean – with a design that both preserves and advances the building’s aesthetics.
About Barry Goralnick
Barry Goralnick, a graduate the Harvard Graduate School of Design, is a tenant in the St. James, 1133 Broadway. His first job at Wayne Berg Architects was at 1133 Broadway, before it became the NoMad we know today. In addition to architecture and interior design, Barry also designs home furnishing products for Visual Comfort Lighting, Stark Carpet, Vanguard Furniture, and Ferrell Mittman Furniture, with new categories constantly gestating in his studio/lab on the eleventh floor.
Barry has honed his signature style of “Blended Modern” into a nationally recognized lifestyle brand. His essence captures a luxurious style of casual living. Simple lines, rich materials & textures, and distinctive comfort are inspired by the quintessential classics. Modern and Classic design elements are reinterpreted for a softer, more casual livable kind of modern design.
Oscar F. Spate ran his business, The Comfort Chair Company, from an office in the St. James Building, 1133 Broadway. In 1901, Spate had a “brilliant” idea: He could make $250 to $300 per day ($7,500 to $9,000 in current dollars) by charging people three to five cents to sit in rocking chairs he would place in the city parks. Spate approached the president of the Park Commission, George C. Clausen, with his idea, and Clausen happily gave Spate a permit for the price of $500 per year ($14,300 in current dollars) for five years. That was the spark that ignited the Rocking Chair Riots of 1901.
In May of 1901, Spate placed his bright green rocking chairs on the Central Park Mall, in Riverside Park, and in Madison Square Park, across the street from Spate’s office. The chairs were positioned in the shade while most of the free park benches were moved into the sun or removed entirely. Accompanying the new chairs were burly attendants dressed in gray who would approach those who sat in the chairs to ask them to pay for their seat or force them to get out. Understandably, the scheme did not go over well from the outset.
In early June, Alderman Randolph Guggenheimer, the equivalent to today’s Speaker of the City Council, told The New York Times, “It is ridiculous for the Park Commission to grant such a permit. The parks belong to the people and should be free to all… there is no propriety in providing elegant seats to those who can pay for them and allow those who cannot pay to put up with poorer seats or no seats at all.”
Soon the press managed to track down Spate at his office in the St. James Building. When questioned by the reporters, Spate became indignant and his inflammatory remarks only made matters worse. “I’ll put in as many chairs as they will allow,” Spate told the reporters. “The attendants who collect the charges are in my pay . . . and each will look after about fifty chairs, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. A five-cent ticket entitles the holder to sit in either a five-cent, or a three-cent chair in any park at any time during that day. But the holder of a three-cent chair can only sit in a three-cent chair.” Spate also told the reporters he was doing the city a favor, since charging for the chairs would keep the ‘lazy loungers, none too clean,” out of the more desirable areas of the parks, thereby keeping the parks sparkling clean and free of loiterers.
New Yorkers didn’t take kindly to this undemocratic business model. The newspaper editorials ferociously denounced the policy. Spate’s attendants reported that only 1 in 50 people who sat on the chairs actually chose to remain and pay the requested fee, and these workers, who made a mere $1 per day (about $28 today), were verbally berated and physically attacked on a continual basis.
At first, the protestors who refused to pay were forcefully removed, but eventually, crowds of people outnumbered the attendants and even threw stones at them. Central Park and Madison Square Park were the centers of the protest. Uptown in Central Park, people began marching with signs protesting Clausen and Spate’s actions. At Madison Square, which was the center of New York social, political and cultural life at the time, the chairs brought riots.
Oscar Spate countered the reaction by informing attendants to stack the chairs in a heap and to only give them out when people paid for them. The protesters resolved to pay for the chairs only so that they could smash them on the ground.
While Spate hoped matters would soon calm down, a crisis arose. In a seven-day period in late June and early July, temperature records were broken, and the thermometer soared to 99 degrees. Metropolitan New York City witnessed 797 heat-related deaths and 891 heat prostrations in that one week. Things were so bad, that on July 2nd, the city’s hospital ambulance drivers worked 24 hours straight with no relief.
With the city in a heat-induced frenzy and no air conditioning to soothe the populace, people hurried to the city’s parks, which the Park Commission had ordered to remain open all night. When people arrived at the parks, they discovered that many of the free benches were no longer there — removed for “repairs,” and the ones that were still present in the parks had been moved into the sun, making them too hot to sit on. Spate’s green chairs, however, were sitting nicely in the shade.
What ensued is hard to imagine in the tranquility of today’s Madison Square Park, with its free public benches, and the surrounding NoMad neighborhood. Things got ugly.
On Saturday July 6th, the situation reached a boiling point. A man sat in one of Spate’s chairs in Madison Square Park, and he refused to pay the five cents that Spate’s man Thomas Tulley demanded. Tully pulled the chair from out under the man and bedlam ensued. An angry crowd of 1,000 men and boys surrounded Tully and began shouting, “Lynch him! He’s Spate’s man!” Tulley fought his way to the Fifth Avenue Hotel (on the site of 200 Fifth Avenue), where he rushed upstairs and locked himself in a room. The crowd gathered in the hotel lobby for half an hour until policemen arrived and escorted Tully to safety.
Later that day, with the heat still beating down on the park-goers, another one of Spate’s men evicted a boy who was sitting in one of Spate’s chairs in Madison Square Park without paying the required five cents. An incensed crowd attacked this second Spate man, and when a policeman tried to intervene, he was dumped into the park’s fountain. Spate’s man fled the park in fear, and after he did, delighted people began taking turns sitting in Spate’s chairs for free. When evening arrived, several people carried Spate’s chairs home with them as trophies to grace their living rooms.
Things continued to spiral out of control on Monday, July 8th. Spate workers and policemen were hit with flying missiles composed of wads of paper soaked in Madison Square Park fountains, and when police tried to take three men into the local stationhouse, they were pursued by a crowd which numbered over 1,500 before they even got to Worth Square. The Police Commissioner himself had to cut off and stop the crowd at 27th and Broadway.
The riots continued in both Madison Square Park and Central Park on Tuesday, July 9th, but the tide began to turn in favor of the protestors. The police were ordered by Police Commissioner Michael Murphy not to aid any of Spate’s men trying to collect fees and not to arrest any of the rioters, unless court magistrates issued arrest warrants for the individual rioters. At this point, several of the magistrates told the press they would not issue any warrants. Protestors had virtual immunity.
Finally, a man named Max Radt, vice-president of Jefferson State Bank, sued The Park Board in New York’s Supreme Court. On July 11th, the court found that the Clausen/Spate agreement was illegal and voided Spate’s contract. The text of the court’s decision removed any doubt about the Spate’s predatory intent: “It appeared upon the trial that, as an incident to the privilege given to Spate under his agreement, the ordinary park benches were, in or about the month of May 1901, removed from shady spots to make way for his chairs, and that any person who was either unwilling or too poor to pay for a chair would have to either swelter on a free bench in the sun or seek shade, fresh air, rest or relief from excessive heat in some other place than in the public parks.”
With this ruling, Spate gave up his business and President Clausen purchased the remaining chairs and placed them in the park with a sign on each which read, “For the exclusive use of women and children. Free.”
Oscar Spate dropped out of sight and was never seen or heard from again in New York City, except for one report in The New York Times on December 11, 1907. The paper reported that a Reginald Spaulding, a prisoner peeling potatoes in Pittsburg’s jails, was actually Reginald Seymour the scion of a wealthly British family. The article noted that Spaulding/Seymour had just inherited more than a million dollars from his mother who had recently died in London. What is most surprising is that the article noted that Reginald Seymour had another alias . . . Oscar F. Spate, a name he assumed just before his park chair scandal in New York City.
What is not surprising is the fact that “Spate” had a string of dubious business undertakings and run-ins with the law. As far back as 1893 an article in the San Francisco Call reported that he claimed that when he had married Honorah Spate in 1887, he did not know she was a man. (One can only wonder what scheme that was, when it took him six years to find out his she was a he.)
It all eventually caught up with him in 1911 when he committed suicide in Detroit following a government investigation into a company he was promoting.