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NYC: Grand Army Plaza – Pulitzer Fountain
Image by wallyg
This impressive 22-foot-high ornamental fountain in Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza was designed by sculptor Karl Bitter and architect Thomas Hastings of the noted New York architectural firm Carrère and Hastings. Orazio Piccirilli, of the Italian-born Bronx family of brothers known for their exceptional sculptural carving, fashioned the ornamental features that adorn the tiered granite fountain.
The fountain was donated by publisher Joseph Pulitzer, who bequeathed funds to erect a fountain. Hungarian-born Pulitzer moved to New York in 1883, after taking ownership of the New York World, the sensational and gossip-filled tabloid that, along with William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, marked the beginning of the era of yellow journalism in the United States. He also helped institute the Pulitzer Prize, the prestigious award given each year to various journalists, writers, and composers.
For years, sculptor Bitter had a vision of transforming the Grand Army Plaza area to a public space similar to Paris’ Place de la Concorde. By working with architect Hastings, Bitter developed the fountain as a site-specific project that complimented the nearby Sherman Monument, creating a well-designed composition for the plaza. The fountain is topped by the bronze allegorical figure Pomona, the goddess of abundance, who is seen holding a basket of fruit. Sculptor Bitter died in a car accident while working on the figure and it was completed by his assistant, future Parks monuments conservator Karl Gruppe and also Isidore Konti. The fountain was dedicated in 1916.
The original limestone fountain was first restored in 1948 and the 12-foot central basin was replaced with a granite basin in 1970. By the 1980s it had ceased to function properly and was rehabilitated as part of a .7 million project, a joint effort between the Central Park Conservancy and nearby business owners, to restore Grand Army Plaza, the fountain, and the statue of Pomona. The replacement central basin developed a crack over time, and had to be replaced with a second granite basin in 1996.
Grand Army Plaza was named a scenic landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1974.
Towers on the Park and Douglass Circle
Image by jann_on
Towers on the Park:
301 Cathedral Parkway
Built ca. 1987-88.
Architects: Bond Ryder James (aka Bond Ryder & Associates)
Developer/Builder: Glick Organization
Developer/Initial Sales Organizer: New York City Partnership
Developer: Dr. M. Moran Weston
"Built on long-idle city-owned urban renewal land, in cooperation with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The sponsor is a partnership of the Glick Organization and Dr. M. Moran Weston, chairman of Carver Federal Savings Bank."
It was initially developed with subsidies from the Housing Development Corporation, and had prices set at income tiers to ensure affordability, but which also limited the equity of buyers in those tiers for fifteen years, with one tier free of all restrictions including on price.
Those restrictions have long since expired and now "the application packet requires potential owners to list all assets and two years’ worth of tax returns, to be certified by an accountant."
With a matching building at 300 Cathedral Parkway and a companion building at 220 Manhattan Avenue, the total project has 599 condo apartments.
"This residential complex consists of twin 20-story towers at the northwest corner of Central Park. Designed by Bond Ryder James, the large complex has 599 condominium apartments … In … ‘The A. I. A. Guide to New York City,’ (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988), Elliot Willensky and Norval White described these buildings as ‘crisp, but bland,’ adding ‘they bow, however, to the circle and consciously make a corner for the park.’"
Architectural firm Bond Ryder & Associates existed from ca. 1969 to 1990 and was "one of the most prominent minority-owned architectural practices in New York." Founding partner J. Max Bond Jr. "served as chairman of the architecture division at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Planning from 1980 to 1984. He was dean from 1985 to 1992 at the City College of New York School of Architecture and Environmental Studies. He served as a member of the New York City Planning Commission from 1980 to 1986."
Memories of Max Bond
Frederick Douglass Circle:
"Although a ceremony was held to name the circle after Frederick Douglass on September 17, 1950, the pedestrian plaza in the center of the intersection was not completed until June 2, 2010."
Central plaza includes various quotes from Douglass and others regarding the African-American struggle for freedom, as well as a sculpture of Douglass by Gabriel Koren and paving designed by Algernon Miller.
The project to create a meaningful public space at the circle was initiated in 1993, by residents of a neighboring housing complex, who approached the Central Park Conservancy. Yet the project dragged on and was not started until 2004, with a target completion date of 2009, which was pushed back to the actual opening in 2010.
The work was administered by the New York City Department of Design and Construction and also included other infrastructure improvements.