Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Walking Tour of Radical New York

Earlier this year, I went on a walking tour of radical sites throughout history in New York, mostly downtown. The tour guides distributed a map and list of site descriptions, which I've kept on hand at home. In the interest of being able to recycle the flier, I'm keying its content into Media Diet for my -- and your -- future reference. At some point, I'll annotate the entry with a map and corollary links. This may be one for LazyWeb, but I'd really like an online app that lets me key in a list of street addresses in a given city -- and then generates a walking tour map from point to point. Surely, that's doable.

Given on the first Sunday of every month from April to October by Bob Palmer and Bob Erler. Starts at 2:30 p.m. at the Peace Building, 339 Lafayette St. (at Bleecker Street). Take the IRT #6 to Bleecker or the IND B, D, of F train to Broadway-Lafayette. For further info, write to: Walking Tour of Radical New York, Room 202, 339 Lafayette St., New York City, NY 10012.

A Radical Look at Architecture, or Have You Talked to a Building Today?

What is a radical critique of architecture? Architectural asthetics, after all, is generally scorned by "radicals" as a superfluous concern for effete intellectuals. Is it really just part of that decadent display known as "conspicuous consumption"?

Conspicuous or otherwise, buildings do comprise the most substantial and enduring physical investment that a community creates. What we build expresses a great deal about us:

  • Who we are and want to be
  • How we are organized
  • What kinds of experiences are important to us
  • And much, much more

Buildings on this radical walking tour include a wide variety of expressions of what different people considered important at different times. Some demonstrate by their very purpose of construction the economic and political conditions of society.

You be the judge of what you see as you consider what these buildings have to say about our past and present social order. It's buildings that define the street, and the street is the most basic of political institutions.

1. Peace Building (339 Lafayette). Home of the War Resisters League. Site of Freespace Alternate U (1972-1979).
2. Condict/Bayard Building. Only NYC building by Louis Sullivan (1898).
3. Puck Building at Lafayette and Houston streets (1886-1899).
4. Old federal-style building at Bleecker and Crosby streets (about 1815).
5. 640 Broadway (the first Empire State Building).
6. Site of the Club at 555 Broadway in the 1850s (anarchists, bloomerites, Modern Times people). Now Scholastic Press.
7. Cable Building (northeast corner of Broadway and Houston; 1894).
8. "The vault at Pfaff's where the drinkers and laughers meet to eat and carouse, while on the walk immediately overhead pass the myriad feet of Broadway." -- Walt Whitman, who met there with Ada Claire, Adah Mencken, and others.
9. An orange-brick tower (661 Broadway) by Brunner & Tryon (1891).
10. Brooks Brothers store from 1874 to 1884 (670 Broadway). Architect: George E. Harney (1874).
11. Facade of the former W&J Sloane store (649-55). Built 1867.
12. Spot on Broadway where draft rioters and police clashed on July 13, 1863.
13. Site of Grand Central Hotel (1871). It collapsed on Aug. 3, 1973.
14. Audubon House. Originally a department store, 1890.
15. "Skyscraper Row" (704-716 Broadway).
16. Courant Institute, NYU. (The computer was held for ransom in 1970.)
17. Former Asch Building, where the Triangle fire raged on March 25, 1911.
18. Kimball Hall, NYU. (Red and black flags flew in the May Days of 1970.)
19. Washington Square North. Henry James and the Ashcan School.
20. Right-to-sing protest (1961); Newbold Morris defeated a cappella.
21. Washington Arch, from the top of which Joan Sloan, Marcel Duchamp, and others proclaimed the secession of Greenwich Village from the US. (1917)
22. Site of Mabel Dodge's radical soirees (with Reed, Haywood, Brill, etc.)
23. Site of the Weatherman house. It blew up on March 6, 1970.
24. Where Carlo Tresca, the anarchist, was gunned down Jan. 11, 1943, by godfather-to-be Carmine Galante.
25. Site of the Living Theatre (1959-63); of original Alternate U (1968-70).
26. Union Square. Scene of great socialist, Communist, anarchist rallies.
27. Unitary Household (106 E. 14th St.). 1859-60 Fourieristic experiment.
28. 1-5 Bond St. (originally Robbins & Appleton Building). A progressive 1880 cast-iron building.
29. 378-380 Layfayette St. Romanesque Revival building with dwarf columns by Henry J. Hardenbergh (1888). Time Café is there now.
30. Beinecke & Co. stables. The townhouse people kept their horses here.
31. Engine Company 33 firehouse. Beaux Arts building with a cartouche.
32. The Catholic Worker's Maryhouse (55 E. 3rd St.).
33. NY headquarters of the Hell's Angels.
34. The First Houses (1935). Human-scale public housing courtesy of Mayor La Guardia and the WPA.
35. Old Merchant's House (1832). Occupied by the same family to 1933.
36. DeVinne Press Building (1885). A beautiful, utilitarian building.
37. Colonnade Row (La Grange Terrace, 1833). Four of original nine houses remain.
38. Astor Library (1853, 1859, 1881). Later HIAS building; now Joseph Papp Theatre.
39. Site of Astor Place riot (1849) courtesy of Tammany Hall. The present building, originally the Mercantile Library Building, is by Harney (1890).
40. The Alamo Cube (1966) by Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal. It pivots.
41. The Cooper Union Foundation Building. Lincoln and Goldman held them spellbound.
42. 6 St. Mark's Pl. Site of Modern School (Ferrer Center) from 1911. In 1834 James Fennimore Cooper lived there.
43. Deutsch-Amerikanische Schuetzen Gesellschaft Building (1885).
44. 77 St. Mark's Pl. W.H. Auden's house. Trotsky's press was also here.
45. St. Mark's-in-the-Bouwerie Church (1799). Peter Stuyvesant is buried here.
46. Site of Squatter's Park (1970). Real-estate magnates defeated by hippies and Ukrainians. Now NYU undergraduate dorm.
47. Brevoort's farm. He wouldn't let them through.
48. Webster Hall, where radical meetings have been held since the 1890s.
49. Emma Goldman's home, 210 (now 208) E. 13th St.

No comments: