More Pix of the Haunted Halls

Another group of photos of the south half of Ellis Island.

I admit that this is personal for me. All four of my grandparents passed through the Ellis Island immigration station and the few times they mentioned it in my presence were in terms of the mind-numbing fear of (a) being sent back or (b) being found to be ill. Keeping in mind that three of them did not speak English at the time and the clerks there were famously bad with languages, it may well have been the worst day of their lives.

I worked on the rehab of the Main Building in the early 90s and got a trip to see the museum before it opened to the public. The dissonance between the high-def, large-format pictures of people somewhere on the spectrum between unhappy and terrified, and the adjacent happy-speak about new opportunities in a new land gave me a thumping headache. I’ve been told the text was adjusted a few years later.

Maybe a TB memorial

Most of Ellis Island is landfill. The island now has a squared-off C shape, with the north arm of the C being where the main immigration hall is, the crotch of the C being the ferry slip, and the south half being no-mans-land. The south half is where problematic immigrants were stored, so most of it is a hospital where any number of people died in sight of their goal.

I’ve been there. It’s a combination of historic and depressing that leaves me at a loss for what should be done there…if, in fact, anything should be done there.

“The Tallest buildings in the world, New York City”

I forgot to mention that the St. Paul Building was the tallest building in the world when it was completed. For one year. Then the Park Row Building was completed roughly 100 feet away and a year later.

For some reason, the Detroit Publishing Company decided that the way to show these two buildings, under the title of this post, was from the back [click to engorge]:

Color! 1901!

As I mentioned, the St. Paul Building is ungainly from almost any angle but dead-on from the front. The Park Row Building isn’t quite as bad, but definitely looks better when you can see its front facade:

Nice cupolas.

Then in 1908, the Singer Building was completed three blocks down Broadway, and the “tallest” label jumped up some 200 feet higher.



My father’s birthday is soon, so I thought I’d post the St. Paul Building, where he first worked as a lawyer. It was about four blocks from where my office now is, torn down in the 1950s.

George Post was a talented architect, but the peculiarly-shaped and narrow site seems to have defeated him at the St. Paul. From due west it was okay, but the repeated colonnades have little to do with the overall tall and slender profile:

wedding cakey

From other angles, the remainder of the building looked like an afterthought:

Guilt is an amazing thing

Okay, so I’ll try to get back in the rhythm of posting buildings and such.

I’ve been working on and off for Trinity Church, at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. This was the episcopal church in NYC in the 18th century, so it is not a big surprise that there are some fairly big names buried in the yard. For example, Alexander Hamilton [click to engorge grossly]:

stubby, eh?

I guess he was more of the sex-toy of his country than the father of his country.