As I approached this magnificent building, I stopped in my tracks. Although there is nothing to identify it as something other than someone's personal residence, the breathtaking architecture told me that it had a fascinating history that I needed to learn. Ever the curious one, I wandered next door to speak to the guards outside the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, who told me that No. 11 is owned by the Japanese government and houses their Ambassador to the United Nations. I later learned of its glamorous origins - the structure was originally built in 1899 as a present from the heiress Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard to her daughter and son-in-law, Edith S. and Ernesto Fabbri. The urban mansion, designed by Haydel & Shepard, was built using limestone brought over from France. It boasts five stories, three sets of French doors, and stone balconies.
When Japan bought the townhouse in 1998, it was the highest priced Manhattan townhouse to date - $21.5 million. The Japanese only had one potential rival buyer: Michael Jackson.
The Roosevelt House is primarily an educational institution, housing two of Hunter College's undergraduate programs and hosting a number of book talks, panels, and other public events. But, as the name reveals, it began as a family home. The Roosevelt's moved into this double townhouse in 1908, with matriarch Sara Roosevelt living on one side, and Franklin and Eleanor on the other, along with their five children. On my visit to the Roosevelt House, I participated in a guided tour that illuminated some of its history for me. The building itself, was designed by architect Charles Platt, who also made the plans for the nearby mansion that was home to The China Institute for almost seventy years. This elegant townhouse among the rows of brownstones would set the tone for many of the other structures in the area to be renovated or replaced. Deborah, the tour guide, took us through the many rooms and their pasts. I was surprised to learn that the house was built with two elevators, one on each side, a rare architectural choice for the early twentieth century. The elevators became especially important after 1921, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt fell ill with polio and was confined to a wheelchair. One of the elevators has been retained in its original state, and is shockingly small – the wheelchairs we use today would never fit - but Roosevelt's had a profile similar to that of a dining chair, and so was able to wheel in and out without difficulty. The second elevator has been expanded to allow full accessibility to Hunter College. Upstairs, the library functions as a little museum, containing a selection of books on the Roosevelt's, along with some historic artifacts. The real history though, is in the building itself. "A lot came out of this house, " Deborah explained. President Roosevelt appointed his initial cabinet members in the upstairs library, and among them, the first woman. That same library is where President Roosevelt practiced tirelessly on crutches until he could stand and move sans a wheelchair during political gatherings. A few steps away, the drawing room was the site of Roosevelt's first radio address as president. One floor up is the bedroom where he recovered from polio, and where he often held meetings so that he could continue working minus the discomfort of his leg braces. I found myself lingering close to the walls, hoping they might whisper some of the things they overheard all those years ago. In 1941, Sara Roosevelt died, and the family put the townhouse up for sale. It was a difficult time to sell a house – everybody was at war except the United States, and the whole country knew that conflict was in the immediate future. The Roosevelt's still managed to find a buyer. Eleanor had a strong relationship with Hunter College, and so when they expressed interest, the family lowered the price, making it possible for Hunter to acquire this historic home in 1943. It was dedicated as the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House. Today, the Roosevelt House works to balance its legacy and contemporary function. The house retains all its original crown molding, but the furniture is new, allowing Hunter students and visitors to sit comfortably and not worry about causing damage to antique sofas or rugs. Students at the Roosevelt House study Public Policy and Human Rights, a fitting tribute to the Roosevelt family's influence on this country.
What began as an 1878 brownstone would be hard to recognize today. The dramatic transformation is owed to Frederick J. Sterner, an English immigrant and architect who remodeled many of New York's brownstone buildings in the early part of the twentieth century. Sterner drew influence from foreign and historic styles, converting the rows of monotonous residences into architectural gestures towards another time and place. The New York Times called Sterner "one of the city's most innovative architects. "Completed in 1921, Parge House was the last building that Sterner remodeled. Its name refers to the technique of decorative plaster modeling that was applied to its facade. The walls are adorned with flowers, long skirts, and wings – described, in 1924 as a "riot of arabesques. " At the time, the building was used as Sterner's home and office. Though Sterner is now long gone, the decorative Parge facade remains a surprising stylistic break in the homes along 65th.
Opening in 1948, the Paris initially show-cased French cinema on its single screen. Today, the theater continues to include foreign films as a core element. The theater seats 586 people, and features a balcony, which is a rarity in modern cinemas. With no ads preceding the start of a film, the Paris Theatre opens up the curtain and offers a more classy and classic movie watching experience.
Who would have thought that one could find a golf club so far from a green? One of the most elite golf clubs in the world, the Links is where die-hard golf players go to eat and socialize. Charles Blair Macdonald, a golf champion and founder of the United States Golf Association, started the Links in 1917 as a place where powerful members of the golf world could keep the true spirit of the game alive. The magnificent Georgian townhouse that is home to the club was built in 1890 and features four floors and a mansard roof. There is no sign: it is only recognizable by the flags waving outside.
No one knows if there is a key to the door of the Animal Medical Center. The veterinary hospital has never needed one: it has been running for twenty-four hours each day ever since it opened in 1962. The history of AMC, however, runs deeper; Ellin Prince Speyer, the founder of the Women’s Auxiliary to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, planted the seeds of the Center in 1909 when the Auxiliary established a clinic for animals whose owners were not financially able to go to existing veterinary hospitals. The Center was a success, thus allowing the organization to begin raising funds for a permanent animal care facility. This goal was seen to fruition in 1914 when a hospital opened on the Lower East Side. In 1960, construction began on the current grounds, which is now one of the few teaching veterinary hospitals in the world. Over one thousand veterinarians from around the globe have come through training at the AMC. Upon entering the eight-floor building and seeing the tiled animal mural decorating the elevators, I was met by the Center's enthusiastic public relations person, Barbara Ross. She was eager to give me a guided tour of the facilities. As she led me through the first hallway, I met Matt, sitting in his scrubs with one hand on his computer and the other holding a small dog. This was the perfect image to set the stage for my walk. The building mirrored a human hospital, but with a more relaxed atmosphere and animals of all shapes and sizes being attended to and comforted by staff members. It was a special moment for me when I stepped into Dr. Stephen Riback's dental office, where he agreed with my initial impression: "It's more like a people hospital than an animal hospital. " I was proud to watch this warm and gentle man, whom I have known my entire life, taking care of a dog that had just been through major dental surgery. Stephen explained that he had removed some teeth from the King Charles Spaniel who had periodontal disease - which causes the bone in the dog's gums to recede from the teeth. Stephen assured me that the dog would be much happier now, and that the other organs would be saved from the ailments that often follow from progressive periodontal symptoms. The dog's adorable little tongue was clamped in a permanent lolling position, and the woman assisting in the operation made sure that his open eyes were moistened while he was sedated. Stephen went on to tell me about some of the other dental operations he has handled: he has performed root canal procedures on police dogs that break their teeth during "bite" work, and he once utilized his dental expertise on a Bengal Tiger at the Bronx Zoo. As a rule, doctors from AMC do not work at the zoos, since both Central Park and the Bronx have their own medical team. Dentistry, however, is not taught at most veterinary schools, so Stephen is often called upon for his unique skills. After saying good-bye to Stephen, I stepped back into the hallway with Barbara, where she told me about a recent case of a dog who arrived on 62nd Street blind and left being able to see after the removal of its cataracts. Clearly medical miracles are performed at AMC. On the subject of blindness, Barbara mentioned that every guide dog is treated without charge. Though animals occasionally come in for general wellness visits, for the most part they are admitted for problems that regular vets cannot handle. As Barbara said, "The animals are primarily the sickest of the sick. "Continuing on, Barbara proudly pointed out the imposing CT scan and MRI machines, and commented that "some human hospitals do not own anything close to this level of equipment. " I was then shown a series of astonishing photographs of a young horse receiving a CAT scan. Following this, Barbara led me to a hybrid operating room for interventional endoscopy and radiology, which she said is the only one of its kind in the world. And, if I had not been impressed enough, I was then made aware of the hospital's underwater treadmill that aides animals with arthritis and hip dysplasia. When I looked at Barbara in amazement, she explained that staff members entice their patients with peanut butter, thereby encouraging them to swim forward to lick this treat. This allows them to participate in physical therapy. Brilliant! Barbara shared with me that there have often been times over the decades that human physicians have collaborated with veterinarians, including teaming up with Sloan Kettering where, together, they came up with the first canine vaccine for cancer. From what I witnessed, opening their medical center in the same vicinity as what is termed Hospital Row was the perfect decision back in the 1960s. And there is no doubt that these animals are treated with the same care and professional expertise as the human patients surrounding them.
The first fully certified “green” building in Lincoln Center, the atrium features lush vertical gardens with a spectacular fountain, where visitors and local residents are invited to sit and relax in a wide open space. Additionally, there are informative wall screens, a booth to purchase Lincoln Center discounted tickets, the ‘wichcraft eatery, and the starting point for guided tours of the Lincoln Center. The David Rubenstein Atrium, formerly known as the “Harmony Atrium, ” was created through a New York program that provides designated spaces for accessible public use. David Rubenstein, in whose honor the space is named, was the Vice Chairman of Lincoln Center, as well as a philanthropist and financier.
Established in 1958, the Fifth Avenue Synagogue has been home to many Jewish spiritual leaders both from New York and Israel. It was first formed as a place of worship where the values of Orthodox Judaism would take center stage while also catering to contemporary American lifestyles. The building was designed by Percival Goodman, who called himself "an agnostic who was converted by Hitler. " The synagogue is designed in the traditional Sephardic way, with a bimah and ark in a central area and separate sections for men and women.