Though most now know this skyscraper - often called The Lipstick Building due to its distinctive shape - as the former headquarters of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, 53rd at Third stands as one of the landmark postmodern skyscrapers in the country. Designed by Philip Johnson, the red granite and stainless steel building opened in 1986. According to a wonderful exhibit I saw in the lobby during the summer of 2014, "Johnson felt strongly that we comprehend architecture as art that derives from a long history." As such, two features of the building call to mind famous churches in Rome. The oval plan of the building set back from the street is a nod to Bernini's Sant'Andrea al Quirinale (also "intended to give more tenants 'a corner window,'" according to the exhibit), and the colonnade in front, reminiscent of Bernini's Piazza San Pietro.
The delectable assortment of French pastries was only the beginning of the excitement for me when I first visited Eclair Bakery. Getting to observe and speak with owner Stephane Pourrez, as he was preparing pastries, macarons, croissants and, of course, a variety of eclairs made the experience very special. An alumnus of Ferrandi, the French School of Culinary Arts in Paris, Pourrez worked in New York for a year as a pastry chef before he fulfilled his "childhood dream" of opening his own bakery. No matter what time I chose to pop in, I always found others sipping on their cafe au lait, and mingling with fellow French natives.
Lyn Trotman describes Quest as “a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of midtown.” President of the New York Theosophical Society, which studies the wisdom behind various world religions, Lyn also operates the Society’s book shop, Quest. The store is a pleasantly-scented oasis, with a section devoted to incense, candles, and gemstones. People interested in esoteric studies and rituals can browse through books on every conceivable spiritual tradition, from Kabbalah, to Sufism, to Buddhism, and all things in between. “A lot of other metaphysical bookstores are gone. We are the oldest one left.”