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.
It has been nearly two years since an Easter Eve fire raced through St. Sava, destroying the historic and architectural landmark. For those of you who were not in 1123 Broadway, 1133 Broadway or 11 West 25th Street at the time, you can read more about St. Sava and the fire here.
We do not know a great deal yet, but we are scheduled to have a meeting with church officials to be briefed on their plans. We have heard that the City has placed restrictions on the amount of noise that the reconstruction of the church may generate, which is good news for all.
As to the nature of the current work, the church’s website reports: “Following the removal of a huge amount of debris, the restoration of Saint Sava Cathedral continues to progress steadily. The current scope of work, which consists of the removal of the ornamental limestone from the church’s interior, is almost finished. Upon completion of this task, the repair of the damaged central and upper part of the granite retaining walls, installation of the roof structure, flooring, and installation of windows and doors will follow. If all goes according to plan, the completion of this phase is anticipated by mid-year.”
We will be keeping our tenants informed about the project as it progresses. We trust that many of our tenants will be heartened by this news, knowing that the beautiful architecture of St. Sava will soon once again grace our neighborhood and provide a welcome site out our windows… Need a reminder of how beautiful it was? You can see photos of the church before the fire here.
The co-founders of Evoke Neuroscience, James Thompson, PhD, David Hagedorn, PhD and Nicole Hagedorn (MD) are making it simpler for people to get information about their brain function and to use it to proactively improve their health.
Evoke is developing new ways to help people improve their own brain health through the distribution of its first two products: The eVox System and The Waveband. The eVox System is a Class II medical device that has received Section 510(K) clearance from the FDA. It is intended for the acquisition, display, and storage, of electrical activity of a patient’s brain to aid in diagnosis. EVox allows doctors to measure and optimally manage patients with memory loss, cognitive impairment, and stress-related conditions. It facilitates early detection of the causes of cognitive impairment, leading to early intervention and the potential for positive outcomes. The Evoke Waveband, an app-powered heart rate variability (HRV) training tool, improves overall heart health and improves resilience to everyday physical and mental stressors. By synchronizing brain and heart function, the Evoke Waveband can improve physical and mental performance and fight stress from the inside out by training nervous system balance. Together the eVox and Waveband are powerful tools to help individuals recognize their current health situation and provide ways to easily take control and improve it.
The company’s marketing arm is in California, accounting is in North Carolina, and operations and engineering are right here at 11 West 25th Street. We spoke with Dr. Thompson at his West 25th Street office, and we think his unwavering passion for improving the current healthcare climate, coupled with his charismatic personality come through in what he had to say to us.
Kew Management: What is the mission of Evoke Neuroscience?
James Thompson: Our mission is to allow everyone to get really important information about their brain health and function. We want people to get access early and test often so they can optimize brain health throughout their lifespan. Currently, people only get access to information about their brain function when it’s too late; when they’re showing real symptoms.
KM: How do you feel your background benefits the work that you do today?
JT: My background is in both clinical work and research in brain function and electrophysiology, which is the study of neuron function. I have a PhD in that area, and I have a lot of clinical experience working with patients and research experience doing a deeper dive into this field of study. My primary focus had been on head injuries and concussions. These have obvious effects on all areas of brain function, including attention, memory and mood.
KM:How was Evoke Founded?
JT: Dr. Hagedorn and I had met in 2005 at a lecture I was giving. We realized we had a lot of common interests. We were both interested in head injuries and electrophysiology. Over a four- to five-year period we stayed in contact about the information, cases, and research we were working on. Ultimately, we decided that the information was very helpful from a clinical standpoint, but very difficult for doctors on the front line to obtain and to understand. We kept saying, “there must be a better way to collect, analyze, and interpret the data.”
In 2009, Dave called me and he said “I’m going to start a company that’s going to do this and make it really simple for the general public and all practitioners to get this information about their brain function and health. I’m starting this company.” I was very happy for him to do this and replied, “that’s great, I’m glad someone I trust is going to do this!” He said, “Well I’m not going to do it alone. You own half the company, and you owe me a few bucks for the registration.” And that was it.
The two of us worked together on product concepts and prototypes for a couple of years during evenings and weekends, me from New York and Dave from North Carolina, while continuing with our other jobs. Then, in 2011 we got a little seed capital, which allowed us to hire our first engineer to start writing the code. Previously, we were outsourcing the work and didn’t have anyone in house. The financial infusion allowed us to write code for data analysis instead of doing this by hand. In 2012, we got a little more funding from an angel investor, hired a few more staff members to write additional code, outsourced the production of a hardware system (which we’d written multiple patents around), and launched our first product in 2013.
The original product was software that collected data from the outsourced third-party piece of hardware. Then, in 2015, we produced our own proprietary hardware, paired it with our proprietary data collection software and the data analytics packages we had created, and released the eVox System. EVox hardware is paired with our brain and cardiac-acquisition software running on a laptop, collects all the data, and then uploads it through our HIPAA-compliant web portals to our secure servers. That is where we do all our analysis and then provide doctors web access to download completed reports.
KM: What measures do you use to test brain function?
JT: We use something called the electroencephalogram (EEG) that measures brain neuron function, the electrical activity in the brain, in real time. We look at brain processing speed by providing stimuli to patients and measuring the brain’s reaction time. We see how well the brain is processing information. We also use an electrocardiogram (ECG), which is a measure of heart function, to look at the overall heart health as well as nervous system function and balance.
KM: What is the next step to negative results of brain function?
JT: If you have areas that are outside normal limits or that have changed from your baseline, then those are identified in the report. Doctors can then individualize treatment and interventions specifically to those areas. One intervention that Evoke provides through its software offering is biofeedback for both brain and heart. For nervous system balance, you would do heart rate variability training. For brain function improvement, you would target normalizing those brain patterns through something called EEG bio-feedback, also known as neuro-feedback to normalize neuron firing patterns.
KM: How are these products marketed to the general public?
JT: Down the road we may introduce products for and market directly to individual laypeople, but currently we only market and sell to physicians. We sell our eVox system to physicians either in large group practices or individual practitioners who see many different types of brain-related disorders on a daily basis — whether it’s Alzheimer’s, dementia, early stages of memory loss, stress-related disease, motor vehicle accidents, or depression and fatigue.
KM:Do you have any major health care partnerships?
JT: We have some partnerships with the military. They’re using the eVox system to help soldiers with blast injuries and related cognitive traumas. We also partner with distributor groups who have fully vetted our technologies and want to include it in their medical device offerings.
KM: Do you believe that mental illness is increasing or are we just recognizing it more than we used to?
JT: We are recognizing it more often, definitely, and we are talking about it more. Nevertheless, there are more things in our environment that can contribute to this, whether its toxins in the environment or pollution. Our world is increasingly filled with all this processed food, cell phones, Wi-Fi, cell towers, and so on. Radio waves are flowing through us all the time, and we don’t know what they do. Additionally, we have more stress in our daily lives than ever before. Stress is linked to the top six causes of death today. For example, heart disease, cancer, suicide and accidents are stress-related, and 75% of all physician visits are for stress-related ailments. Those are huge numbers!
Going back to the purely psychological aspects, we have to ask: What is social media doing to us? Are people feeling that they need to keep up with that? Are they seeing just the bright side of everyone else’s life? Are they thinking: “There must be something wonderful that others are getting in that phone call or that text message. How come I’m not like that?” What is that doing to our happiness or our release of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine: our reward system? That’s going to be having negative consequences on our bio-chemistry, and we don’t know what the long-term effects of this will be.
KM: What do you believe the future holds for neuroscience?
JT: I think that what it’s going to allow us to do is get to a stage where medicine will likely be more proactive rather than reactive. We’re going to be putting the patient’s health into the hands of the patient. It’s going to allow people to understand the state of their mental functioning and where they’re going. So at the earliest stages armed with the information they are given, they have the opportunity to make a shift that will optimize their health and functionality throughout their lifespan, as opposed to finding out too late that there’s something they could have done to change the state of their health.
KM: Do you have any ideas on future products?
JT: Yes, we want to expand the utility. We have not released the Wave headset, so we want to release that. The Wave headset provides less channels of brain measurement, but it gives us very good information about important parts of brain function and heart function, while being portable and very easy to use. It can be used in clinics, at schools and for remote or home training, because it’s in the form of headphones.
We started out by saying our mission is to optimize brain health and function for everybody. Right now, we’ve only been able to capture the people who are seeking it through their doctors. We want people to be able to get it at all levels.
KM: How will this change the way individuals view neuroscience?
JT: Not everybody’s going to take advantage of this, but we want it to be accessible to everyone. Just like we now have people doing simple things like weighing themselves and understanding that there is a correlation between being overweight and diseases like diabetes. This is a well-known fact and because of the accessibility of scales and the information people can be proactive in improving their long-term health. However, not everybody takes advantage of the science, but at least it’s a tool that’s accessible to everyone, and they can measure and manage stress and optimize brain health and function.
I think the future of medicine is having consumers understand the benefits of monitoring day-to-day status and how things affect mental health. Individuals can make lifestyle choices early and work to improve their health throughout their lives. So, as we live longer, our brains are going to be able to keep up with our bodies.
KM: What advice would you give to somebody that is interested in working in your field?
JT: Well that is a tough one. My advice is that it’s a really interesting field. It’s in its infancy so there is a lot of great work being done, but there is a lot of noise (ideas and products being put forth for profit without a good deal of thought). My advice would be to work in earnest to filter through the noise and to figure out exactly what you want to do in this space. Is it research based? Is it medical? Is it working within the confines of the current American medical system or is it consumer based? That’s going to drive a lot of decisions you have to make.
Blueberry Builders, founded in 2010 by Russell Goss, focuses on construction management, design build and general contracting for hospitality and restaurants, offices, and retail.
The company has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies two years in a row, with the majority of that growth coming from repeat clients and referrals.In fact, with clients such as Hyatt, Versace, Heyday, Rizzoli, Eric Kayser and Rosa Mexicano, Blueberry Builders moved up 604 places from the previous year to 1,574 with 250% growth in the past year.What brought such success?A comprehensive approach to every project.
The newly renovated Bowery Road restaurant and accompanying Library of Distilled Spirits bar at the Hyatt Union Square is a great example of all that sets Blueberry Builders apart from competing contractors.
Working with designs by Dutch East Design, Blueberry Builders created a flawless 10,000 sq. ft. space in only five weeks, executing exacting metal work and millwork, hanging a multi-ton, 20-foot tall chandelier, and making sure that everything was done with minimal disturbance to hotel guests.
We all know how tricky construction can be, particularly in New York City.Blueberry meets the challenges by taking ownership of each project and working in a collaborative way with architects, clients, engineers and others to make sure the project gets done beautifully with a client-like eye on budget and schedule.
Aware that the failure to get appropriate permits and certificates can cause costly delays, Blueberry proactively looks at an entire project and sees what is necessary.If no one is taking care of some important aspect of the project, the Blueberry team raise awareness and/or get it done themselves. If materials are delayed, they look for alternate sources or substitutes to make sure the project stays on schedule.And having personnel on staff who are architecturally trained, they appreciate the aesthetic sensibility that dictates how a job must be executed to achieve the designer’s vision
This approach and the company’s use of technology to help staff manage large projects, makes them a paradigm of a new way of approaching construction.In a market like New York City, where time and money are so important, it is this unusual approach that has made Blueberry Builders so successful in bringing projects in on time and on budget.As for the aesthetic results, they speak for themselves.
The Hyatt spaces are elegant, with precision cabinetry and lighting spotlighting the 1,000+ bottles in the Library of Distilled Spirits, a handsome copper topped bar that has a patina evoking New York’s historic bars, and superb wood finishing, particularly on the ash walls in the downstairs special events area of the Bowery Road restaurant.These are just some of the examples of the quality that makes a good design great.
Beyond the Hyatt project, we have chosen just three other projects that show the expertise that Blueberry Builders has in construction, design, and technical skill.You can check out others projects showing their skill and care at:blueberrybuilders.com.
Just downstairs from us here at Kew, you can view the exquisite 6,500 sq ft retail space Blueberry built for Rizzoli.It harkens back to Rizzoli’s legendary past and puts forward a sleek new image.From a gut renovation, Blueberry refitted cabinetry and bookcases from Rizzoli’s other historic locations, refurbished original columns and ceilings, laid marble floors, and installed beautiful new lighting fixtures, creating one of the most civilized spaces in the City.
In a true design/build project, Blueberry Builders transformed a tired Brooklyn Italian eatery in Carroll Gardens into a vibrant fresh roasted-coffee café that is both stylish and exciting.
Versace Showrooms and Offices
At Columbus Circle, Blueberry Builders created a sleek 8,000 sq ft showroom and 18,000 sq ft office for Versace in just 12 weeks.The showroom shows Blueberry’s craftsmanship with a unique stretch vinyl ceiling that creates a reflective effect, which lifts the showroom, and precision millwork, which creates a stunning state-of-the-art space.
Widely recognized as a 3D and virtual reality pioneer, Sketchfab is introducing us to the way we will consume this new media in the future.
What is Sketchfab?
Sketchfab is the largest platform to publish, share, and discover 3D content on web, mobile, and VR, which is positioned as a “YouTube for 3D content.” Louis Bidou, who is in charge of Operations for Sketchfab, explains, “It is basically like a media publishing platform in that people create and publish 3D content, and then are able to use Sketchfab to broadcast it anywhere online. They can embed 3D content into news articles, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, pretty much everywhere. You might think of it as similar to YouTube; it just shares a different kind of media.” 3D media on Sketchfab is available for everyone to see — using any browser, laptop or phone. In fact, if someone wants to publish a 3D scene on his/her Facebook or Twitter news feed, they currently have only one choice — they must do so using Sketchfab.
How Does it Work?
Critical to Sketchfab’s success is its simplicity. There are different ways to create 3D content for Sketchfab – all depending on the user’s own skillset and previous experience with 3D creation. People can either use a 3D software or tool to design a scene from scratch, or simply use 3D scanning apps. 3D scanning is much simpler and already accessible to everyone today, it only requires easy-to-use software and pictures to create a 3D model.
Louis gave a personal example: “I really like to 3D scan what I find interesting, beautiful, or just fun. The process is basically taking pictures of an object from every angle and putting them into a software. After a few minutes you have a 3D model. Often times I take pictures of my food, but here I don’t take only one, I take 20. It is actually quite cool to see a burger or fruit tart in 3D a few weeks after you’ve eaten it. You can’t eat it again, but you can look at it on Sketchfab.”
Ahead in the Technology Race
At the moment, Sketchfab is the only natively integrated player for 3D content on many social media sites, meaning Sketchfab’s team worked to build a network of partnerships to let its users embed their 3D player anywhere online. Sketchfab works as a middle ground between preexisting 3D content and any internet site. This is a crucial part of Sketchfab’s strategy for future successes. If a user posts a Sketchfab link on Facebook, the content will appear directly on their news feed, rather than opening a new window to Sketchfab’s website. This gives the company a leg up on future competition.
“When people create a 3D model with Photoshop and want to share it with their friends on Facebook, they have to publish it on Sketchfab and then they can simply copy and paste that link on Facebook,” Louis said. Sketchfab’s native integration with Facebook and other social media sites is important for many reasons. Not only does it set Sketchfab apart from potential future competitors, but this trailblazing advance draws attention to the company and its users as innovators in their fields. “This partnership with Facebook was key,” Louis said. “Our goal is to power every 3D embed on the web. Our partnerships with Facebook and many others have given us a key position in this space that we can use to grow our community and visitors base. As any firm, we need boundaries around us if there is competition at some point, which without any doubt there will be.”
Sketchfab has Many Business Applications
The applications of Sketchfab can be categorized under 18 different sectors, ranging from food and drink to fashion and style. While Sketchfab is a community for anyone interested in creating and browsing 3D content, the gaming industry represents a significant part of Sketchfab’s user base.
“They use Sketchfab because it is really easy for them,” Louis said. “To create their games, they basically built all of the assets in 3D, so they are already a few clicks away from bringing those assets to Sketchfab to use for marketing purposes. When a studio launches a game, they find a good way to communicate about it is to let people play with their characters or wander around their environments via Sketchfab.” Independent game designers, who are keen on showing their work in order to get feedback from the community, also represent a significant part of it.
Sketchfab also launched in January 2018 one of its most requested features: an assets store. It’s a way for its creators to monetize their work and share their content outside of Sketchfab, and an awesome place for people to find great 3D models for their projects.
Sketchfab is Assisting Humanity and World Art
At present, another big audience for Sketchfab is people interested in the world’s cultural heritage. Louis Bidou outlined the influence Sketchfab has had on the spreading world’s culture. “As of today, about 600 cultural institutions are part of the community, including the big ones like the British Museum, the MET, and Le Louvre,” Museums use Sketchfab to give people the chance to see their artefacts in 3D and virtual reality. Sketchfab allows millions around the world — those far from urban centers, those who can’t travel to foreign countries to see a particular collection, and scholars doing research — to “go to” these museums virtually. “If you don’t live in a city such as Paris, New York, or London, you don’t have access to the largest art collections,” Louis said. “So if you can see everything in virtual reality on your mobile phone, it is a very good thing for these museums and for spreading knowledge. It benefits everyone.”
Additionally, Sketchfab supported initiatives that helps preserving endangered heritage sites in the Middle East. Third parties, using Sketchfab technology to share their creations, are working to save images and recreate sites that have been and are being destroyed in the region. Sketchfab technology helps preservationists who recreate 3D models or entire scenes of historical sites using 3D scanning technologies to make them easily available online.
Additionally, Sketchfab directly assists these efforts: “We offer discounted PREMIUM accounts to museums and educational organizations so they can use all of the features of Sketchfab for free,” Louis said.
Sketchfab: Its History, Culture and Strategy for Growth
Sketchfab was founded in Paris in 2012, opening its New York office in 2013, and moving here to 1123 Broadway two years ago. Its founders are Alban Denoyel, Cédric Pinson, and Pierre-Antoine Passet. The company has since grown to 30 employees.
Today, the team is split between Paris and New York, but the company works to keep the culture seamless between the two offices. “We do not consider the offices as two different parts of the company or two different entities,” Louis said. “We do our very best to keep it as a united organization.”
Among the efforts towards unification are 24/7 live streaming between the offices, video conference calls, international team-building trips, and even an exchange program. On both sides of the Atlantic, every employee holds the Sketchfab values: creativity, passion, caring, and craziness. “Craziness is hard to explain, you just have to experience it,” Louis said.
The platform has reached its present success with funding from investors. Sketchfab has raised $10 million to date from investors in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. One of its most crucial investments came from the New York City-based accelerator Techstars, which sparked the company’s decision to expand into the United States.
To get users to their site, Sketchfab tries to keep it as personal as possible. Besides traffic sparked by the platform’s integration on social media sites and major 3D creation softwares and tools, users are also introduced to Sketchfab by in-house evangelists. “One of our team member manages efforts with cultural heritage institutions and someone else with games studios and indies. They are doing both business development and community management,” Louis said. Sketchfab is also always working to increase awareness of the power of 3D and virtual reality. As more sectors in less creative/tech savvy areas see how they can apply VR, they too will take advantage of Sketchfab’s technology.
We see the development of VR happening simultaneously with a rise in public understanding of its capabilities, what it can do, and how to do it. Sketchfab is positioned to take maximum advantage of these developments, having a competitive edge with its proprietary software and a strong network of partnerships.
The Future is Now
With the technology industry rapidly changing, it can be difficult to keep up. Luckily, platforms such as Sketchfab are making it easier to understand and enjoy complex innovations such as virtual reality and 3D content. Integrated into social media sites or recreating the world’s museums — to give just two examples, virtual reality is becoming increasingly available in our day-to-day lives. Change is coming to the way we consume media; Sketchfab is showing us the way.
The Townsend (1123 Broadway) and St. James (1133 Broadway), built in 1896, have had lots of time to collect unusual stories, but this has to be one of the oddest.
Between 2:00 and 3:00 o’clock on July 31, 1922, employees in The Townsend and some surrounding buildings started to fall sick.Before long, 50 or 60 people were feeling seriously ill.As The New York Times put it, employees “. . . fell over on the floor or cried out in agony.Panic prevailed on some floors in the Townsend Building as one employee after another turned pale, then blue and began to complain of intense pain.”
The suddenness of the crisis was such that the lobby of The Townsend had to be turned into a makeshift hospital.At first, personal physicians were called, but soon, they could not handle the flow of patients.Tenants in the building became temporary nurses, helping doctors work eight or ten stomach pumps simultaneously.Soon offices in the building had to be turned into emergency rooms.It must have been quite a scene.
Finally, completely overwhelmed, the doctors summoned ambulances from Bellevue and New York Hospitals.Due to the urgency and number of ambulances clambering through the New York City streets, quite a stir was raised judging by the Times article.
What was the matter?It seems that everyone who was ill had eaten either blackberry or huckleberry pie in a local restaurant at lunchtime.There clearly was something wrong with the batter and police suspected that plaster of Paris had been “mistaken” for flour.Right.
While most of the treated recovered and were sent home, eleven were treated by ambulance surgeons and two victims who were suffering acutely were taken to New York Hospital. The real mystery was how so many could have taken in a “poisonous” substance of some sort without detecting it.
The New York Times article never mentioned the name of the restaurant, but we trust it is no longer around.