Are you a fan of architecture? Then next time you are travelling to the United States, take a few days to explore New York City. Many of its buildings are world icons and the eclectic range of styles is a real treat. Here at Mundana, we’ve sifted through them to come up with the seven buildings you must see while you’re in New York. Why not take a look?
The Empire State Building
Iconic and historic, nothing epitomises the city of New York in quite the same way as the Empire State Building. Construction began in 1930 and the building opened 13 months later. Yet, thanks to the Great Depression and World War Two, it wouldn’t make a profit until the 1950s – hard to believe when you note its enduring popularity. Its instantly recognisable Art Deco details are as stylish now as they were when they were first unveiled. Today, its dazzling lobby and outdoor observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors remain spellbinding – the highlight of many a trip to the Big Apple. Each evening, the building’s spire is lit. The colours chosen represent seasonal holidays, special events and commemorations.
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal is the terminus for some of New York City’s most important commuter lines. The New Haven, Hudson and Harlem lines of the Metro-North Railroad all converge here from further upstate. The real beauty of this Beaux Arts railway station is revealed once you step inside. The cavernous main concourse features a fabulous ceiling with a mural of constellations. Light floods in through grand arched windows to illuminate a four-faced brass clock. Look closely and you’ll see many oak leaves and acorns in the sculptural detail, a nod to the Vanderbilt family. But before you go, head down to the lower concourse and try out the station’s whispering wall. A quirk of its arched design means sound travels unusually well and the acoustics are mind-blowing.
World Trade Center Transportation Hub
Grand Central isn’t the only transport-related building you should check out. Popularly known as the Oculus, the architecture of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub makes it a must for anyone visiting the city. Twelve subway lines and the PATH connect here, but come whether you plan to use public transport or not. It was conceived as part of the wider WTC project that occupies the site of the Twin Towers that were destroyed in September 2001. Its design, the work of Santiago Calatrava, is symbolic and meaningful. The bleached steel ribs of its ceiling signify a hand releasing a dove, while the building aligns with the sun so that the floor fills with sunlight at the time of day when the towers fell.
Located where Broadway and Fifth Avenue intersect, the building that overlooks Madison Square Park is a must on any tourist itinerary. Architect Daniel Burnham’s design fitted perfectly into a triangular piece of Manhattan real estate. Elegant as well as functional, its unusual shape means it has endured for more than a century. As one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, it also means it’s a location often used by TV and film directors for establishing shots. Originally, it was the headquarters of the Fuller Company, whose business was construction. Though its 22 storeys pale into insignificance against New York’s modern skyscrapers, when the Flatiron was completed in 1902 it was groundbreaking.
30 Hudson Yards
This impressive skyscraper forms part of a recent redevelopment at the northern end of the High Line Park. The lower floors of the building have multiple uses. They provide office space for household names such as Facebook, Warner Bros. Discovery and Wells Fargo, and also a high end shopping mall. However, the showstopper is at the top of the building. It’s home to Edge, an observation deck whose cantilevered floor boasts a glass segment offering a vertiginous view down to the ground – a jaw-dropping 100 floors below. Another attraction, City Climb, provides the opportunity to ascend even higher. Harnessed up, participants scale an angled staircase, lean out and look out over the New York City skyline. It’s no wonder, with views like this, it’s one of the buildings you must see while you’re in New York.
The Chrysler Building
Another of the buildings you must see while you’re in New York is the Chrysler Building. A glittering stainless steel spire and sunburst pattern make it one of the prettiest skyscrapers in the USA. It was built in Art Deco style. Topping out in late 1929, it battled with the Bank of Manhattan for the honour of tallest building in the world. Thanks to the hasty erection of a hitherto concealed spire, for a brief period while the Empire State Building was still under construction, it gained the coveted accolade. Measuring 318.8 metres tall, it was bold as well as beautiful. Chrysler ordered the addition of automobile-themed adornments such as mud guards and hub caps. In the early days, the lower floors housed a Chrysler car showroom, but today it’s an office block. There’s no public access beyond the lobby, but nevertheless it’s worth stepping inside to admire what you can.
The Tenement Museum
For something a little different, head down to Orchard Street and step inside a traditional New York tenement. Before work moved to centralised factory buildings, tenement blocks such as this would have housed families working from home. Many housed workers creating garments for the wealthy. In contrast to their rich clients, many of the seamstresses were poor immigrants, and the population density was high. It wouldn’t have been uncommon to find children playing or sleeping in the same room as that where the clothes were made. This fascinating museum has created room layouts which incorporate original décor and staged them with period furniture. Visitors get to see the buildings as they would have been back in the 19th century.
Take a trip to New York with Mundana and see some of these wonderful landmark buildings with your own eyes.