Tiffany. Part 2

Tiffany on 5th Avenue
Charles Lewis Tiffany   founded Tiffany & Co. in New York City in 1837.    He started with 1000 dollars that he borrowed from his father and  had created a company that became the nation’s foremost jeweler . Tiffany proved to Europeans and others that his American artisans were among the best in the world. You can read  abduct  Tiffany jewelry    in my previous post.    Now I'd like to tell you  about his son   and Tiffany Glass.
Tiffany  glass in Metropolitan Museum

 When Charles Lewis Tiffany   died at age 90, Tiffany & Co. was worth $ 2.4 million. After  his death   his son, Louis Comfort Tiffany took the position of vice president and artistic director of Tiffany & Co.

Originally trained as a painter, Charles  began studying the chemistry and techniques of glassmaking when he was 24.  In his early days  Charles worked as   interior designer. His commissions for Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt and the White House under President Arthur earned him an international reputation and great success.  Stained-glass windows were a feature in these interiors.

Tiffany in Metropolitan museum

In 1865, Tiffany traveled to Europe, and in London he visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, whose extensive collection of Roman and Syrian glass made a deep impression on him.  Later he wrote:  "Rich tones are due in part to the use of pot metal full of impurities, and in part to the uneven thickness of the glass, but still more because the glass maker of that day abstained from the use of paint".

Charles Tiffany  registered a patent for opalescent window glass,   where several colors were combined and manipulated to create   three-dimensional effects.  Unlike stained glass artists of his time, Tiffany mixed the colors into his glass rather than painting them onto it.  For every color needed, for every leaf or blade of grass, a new formula was found that provided the required shade.
Those formulas  were a closely kept secret in the Tiffany shops.    In 1885, Tiffany established his own firm. The artist  built his own factory in Corona, Queens in 1892 where he experimented  with colors, made high volumes of glass and  designed  windows and lamps.

Tiffany used the word Favrile (from the old French word for handmade) as a general trademark for his glass—and later for his pottery and metalwork. Favrile and “fabricate” have the same root, and Tiffany applied the name to his glass to suggest its handmade quality.

 Charles Tiffany wrote:  "Favrile glass is distinguished by brilliant or deeply toned colors, usually iridescent like the wings of certain American butterflies, the necks of pigeons and peacocks, the wing covers of various beetles."
Tiffany lamps are known all over the world. 

The first Tiffany lamp was created around 1895. Each lamp was handmade by skilled craftsmen. Its designer was not, as had been thought for over 100 years, Louis Comfort Tiffany, but a previously unrecognized artist named Clara Driscoll who was identified in 2007 by Rutgers professor Martin Eidelberg.

Today, original Tiffany Stained Glass Lamps now easily bring $30,000 to $40,000 each when one occasionally comes on the market.  Christie's Auction House has sold an original lamp for $2.8 mill. The highest price paid for an original stained glass window at a Christie's Auction was $1.9 mill in 2000.
Several companies mimicked the Tiffany lamp style in the 1920s with cheaper, lesser quality models. In the past 30 to 40 years, forgeries have hit the market that can fool collectors and experts alike.

 In the beginning of the 20th century Tiffany built a house in Long Island  few miles from  the Oyster Bay.    The 84-room magnificent  mansion on 600 acres of land was designed in the Art Nouveau style.

Oyster Bay view
Tiffany applied rich ornamental detail in glass mosaic, carved wood, and molded decoration in a unique blend of Asian and Middle Eastern sources. He decorated the interior of the mansion with thousands of fascinating and unique objects he had collected from around the world. Many also were designed by him or others in his studios—furniture, lighting fixtures, windows, desk sets, and more.
The house served as home for a school for artists run by Tiffany and his Foundation beginning in 1918. There was  Tiffany Chapel originally made for the 1893 Columbian Exposition    and a separate art gallery building  near the  mansion. In 1918 Tiffany established a foundation to maintain the estate in perpetuity as a house museum and an artist’s colony.
Tiffany died in 1933. By 1946, financial reversals prompted the selling of the building’s contents at auction. The home itself was eventually sold and the property sub-divided.  In 1957, a devastating fire gutted the long-abandoned house. 
Loggia from destroyed Tiffany House in Metropolitan museum

Fortunately many beautiful objects survived . The largest group—including artwork, windows, furnishings, and ornaments were bought   by  early admirers of Tiffany  Hugh and Jeannette McKean. Jeannette founded  Morse Museum (named after her   grandfather, Chicago industrialist)  in Florida, Winter Park to show her collection of Tiffany Glass.     
In 1978 the McKeans gave the Metropolitan museum of art    Tiffany porch, Laurelton Hall’s entrance loggia, which is on permanent view in the Engelhard Court in the museum’s American Wing.
 An excellent collection of Tiffany  in Met museum includes   Wisteria window, Autumn Landscape, and the dogwood window.  It also has several lamps, vases, and  -  possibly surprising to some people -  furniture, mosaics, boxes, and other items.   The four-columned loggia that currently graces The Charles Engelhard Court of the Museum's American Wing  was originally installed on the south side of Laurelton Hall.

Tiffany Part 1

Tiffany on 5th Avenue
Everybody knows the name Tiffany. In the 1953 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Tiffany's is mentioned twice in the song "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend". In the 1956's James Bond novel, Diamonds Are Forever, one of Bond's love interests is named Tiffany Case.
"....the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there..." said Holly Golightly, Audrey Hepburns character , from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'.

Tiffany in Met museum
Tiffany was the  Jeweler to the crowned heads of Europe, as well as the Ottoman Emperor and the Czar of Russia.  Vanderbilts, Astors, Whitneys and Havemeyers adorned their evening dress in Tiffany diamonds. President Lincoln purchased a seed pearl suite for his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, in 1861; and a young Franklin Roosevelt purchased a Tiffany engagement ring in 1904.    Tiffany Blue Box is an international symbol of style and sophistication. New York Sun in 1906 wrote:  "Tiffany has one thing in stock that you cannot buy of him for as much money as you may offer, he will only give it to you. And that is one of his boxes."  
Breakfast at Tiffany's

 The magic was born in New York in 1837 when Charles Lewis Tiffany and his friend    John B. Young  opened the  store in Manhattan, on Broadway opposite Manhattan's City Hall Park with a $1,000 advance from Tiffany’s father.  The store sold stationery and a variety of "fancy goods," including costume jewelry. As legend has it, the store brought in only $4.94 in sales on the first day of business. 
Just eight years after the first store was open, in   1845 the  first ever Tiffany catalogue Blue Book was published. This tradition still continues at present day.  Tiffany was the first American company to employ the British silver standard (92% pure) -sterling silver. Largely through the efforts of Charles Lewis Tiffany, this standard was adopted by the U.S. Government.

In 1858, the first complete trans-Atlantic telegraph cable was laid by the ship U.S.S.F. Niagara.  Public interest was  very  high and the  promoter of the Atlantic Cable project sold a quantity of unused Atlantic Cable to Tiffany. Tiffany cut the cable into pieces and   sold as  paper-weights, cane, umbrella, and whip handles at fifty cents each. The cable was in operation for a short period of time, but then failed.

Yellow Diamond

In 1861 Tiffany was selected to design a presentation pitcher for the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln.
In 1879 Tiffany bought  the Yellow Diamond,  the   second-largest Canary Yellow diamond in the world. The diamond was    discovered in 1877 or 1878 at one of the Kimberley mines in South Africa.   The head of Tiffany's office   Gideon Reed  bought the Tiffany Yellow for $18,000.  
Over the years, the diamond has been offered for sale only a few times. In 1951, a price of $500,000 was negotiated but the deal fell through. In 1972 a notice in the New York Times informed the public that Tiffany & Co was selling the diamond for $5 million, and the last time the Tiffany Yellow was put up for sale – 1983 – it was valued at $12 million. Only two women in the whole world  worn this diamond. The first one was Mary  Whitehouse,  the wife of  senator Sheldon Whitehouse, on the  Tiffany ball in the Marble house, Newport in 1957. And the second  woman  was  Audrey Hepburn in her in 1961 publicity photographs for Breakfast at Tiffany's.

For Tiffany’s 175th anniversary in 2012  gem was reset in a  necklace of  white diamonds, totaling over 100 carats. It took a year to make a necklace. It was   the centerpiece of anniversary celebrations in Tokyo, Beijing, Dubai and New York City . Now the necklace is  on its'  permanent place   on the main floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue store.

In 1886 Tiffany introduced the engagement ring as we know it today. Previously, diamond rings were set in bezels.  But Mr. Tiffany’s ring was designed to highlight brilliant-cut diamonds by lifting the stone off the band into the light. This famous ring was named the Tiffany® Setting. To this day, it is the most sought-after symbol of true love.  

Old Tiffany Building
Palazzo Grimani, Venice

Four years after the death of the founder Tiffany moved to  37th and Fifth in Midtown.  The building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White, which modeled it after the 16th-century Palazzo Grimani in Venice . The architect masked seven floors behind three great horizontal divisions, framed by Corinthian columns and piers and topped by a marble cornice.  The main selling floor was surely the most magnificent retail space in New York City   - it had  a high, exquisite coffered ceiling, a richly carved marble stair, purplish-gray marble columns, teak floors, silver chandeliers and open-cage elevators.   The building served as Tiffany’s home until 1940. The shop moved to its present location, the southeast corner of 57th Street, in 1940. 

There is a   9-foot-high figure of Atlas shouldering a large clock over the door of the flagship building.  This  figure was sculpted by Henry Frederick Metzler, a friend of the store's founder, Charles Tiffany.  Metzler was a ship builder; he was skilled in carving wood. Thus, he created a sculpture of Atlas out of wood, and painted it to appear bronze.    Since 1853, it has adorned Tiffany's façade, first at 550 Broadway between Prince and Spring Streets and then at other locations before arriving here.  Atlas and his clock have   become a Tiffany trademark and versions of the composition adorn many of the company’s stores throughout America, including Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, Los Angles, Palm Beach, and Houston.
Every holiday season  the flagship  building and its small windows  are decorated with the scenes from the New York life.  Last December a light display on the building was inspired by the Tiffany Diamond exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

The store on Fifth and 57 street has been the location for a number of films including Sweet Home Alabama , Sleepless In Seattle and the most popular and famous  Breakfast at Tiffany's .  The title Breakfast at Tiffany's is drawn from an anecdote popular among Truman Capote's social circle about an ignorant out-of-towner who, upon being asked which glamorous New York restaurant he would like to visit, answered, "Well, let's have breakfast at Tiffany's". 
The name Tiffany is related not only to the jewelry but to the glass.

I'll tell about Tiffany glass in my next post.

85 on 10, Chelsea, Private Lobby

85 on 10 Ave was  constructed as part of the Nabisco Factory in 1914.   It  is located directly across the street  Ave from Chelsea Market.   The owner of Chelsea Market property  Irwin Cohen bought 85 10th   in 2004, paying $57 million.   The building now is occupied by Telehouse America, data center services provider and other  high technology  companies.  

The building is equipped at the highest standard to support telecommunications companies, with twelve building generators that provide two megawatts of back-up power each.

The eleven floors host several data centers. 85 10th Avenue was constructed to operate independently for thirty days in the event of a city power or water interruption. Six hundred tons of chilled water are available per floor.  Google officially grabbed 360,000 square feet of office space in this building a year ago. Google already occupies   3 million square-foot 111 Eighth Avenue, which it bought for nearly $2 billion in 2010.  It also leases more than 300,000 square feet in   Chelsea Market.

The most interesting thing in this building for me was the lobby. Lobby is not open to the public, but   I was able to enter and make some pictures.  The lobby features industrially inspired art. There are  elements  that were salvaged from demolished historic buildings.  On the 10th Avenue side, there is a forest made up of old gas-lamp poles embedded in concrete, and on the 11th Avenue side, a tree made of steel bars, usually used to reinforce concrete. There was an excellent collection of   models  of the planes  in the lobby.


The Algonquin and the cat

The Algonquin is New York's most prestigious literary hotel. Except for perhaps the Hotel Chelsea, the Algonquin has more connections to literature and the arts than any other hotel in the city.
In 1902, an intimate hotel with a red brick and limestone façade opened its doors in what had become one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Manhattan. The 181-room hotel was designed by architect Goldwin Starrett. Its first owner-manager, Frank Case, worked at the Algonquin from the time it opened in 1902. 

Case worked at the Algonquin from the time it opened in 1902. In 1927 he bought the hotel  $1,000,000 in 1927 and remained his manager till his death in 1946.
It was Case who came up with the hotel's name. The original owner had wanted to call it "The Puritan". Algonquins are First Nation inhabitants of North America. They lived in Quebec.
The Algonquin Round Table was a group of thirty writers, editors, actors, and publicists that met on a regular basis at the hotel. The Round Table first met in June 1919 for a luncheon to welcome home Aleck Woollcott, the drama critic for the New York Times, back from World War I.

Within a few years its participants included many of the best-known writers, journalists, and artists in New York City. The Algonquin Round Table, known by the inner circle as The Vicious Circle,   included such luminaries as Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx and Robert Benchley, and the local press clamored to publish their every word. 

 The Round Table was made up of people with a shared admiration for each other’s work. Outspoken and outrageous, they would often quote each other freely in their daily columns. At first they met in the Pergola Room (Oak Room now) until the group grew too large and the manager of the hotel Case moved them to the main dining room and gave them a round table. They meet for long luncheons, six days a week. 

 Their clever anecdotes and witticisms are a major part of American humor. The members’ opinions and writing strongly influenced young writers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Harold Ross, legendary editor and friend of The Round Table, created The New Yorker and secured funding for it at the hotel. The magazine made its debut February 21, 1925.

The period that followed the end of World War I was one of gaiety and optimism, and it sparked a new era of creativity in American culture. As America entered the Depression and the more somber decade of the 1930s, the bonds that had held the group together loosened; many members moved to Hollywood or on to other interests. 

A decade after it began, the Algonquin Round Table was over but not forgotten. The elder child of the hotel manager Case, the author Margaret Case Harriman, among other books,  wrote a memoir of the Algonquin Round Table entitled The Vicious Circle, because the members of the Round Table called themselves the Vicious Circle.

In 1993, The Algonquin Round Table was featured in The Young Indiana Jones and the Scandal of 1920 where the titular character meet the group and attend at least two lunches. Many visitors of the Round Table restaurant in the hotel request to sit at the original “round table” where the renowned personalities met. The ratio of the restaurant from OpenTable in not high- 3.6.

Some hotels have a resident artist, others have a resident band, and Algonquin hotel has a cat. Wikipedia sais: " The practice dates to the 1930s, when Frank Case took in a stray male cat that was initially named "Rusty." Hotel lore says actor John Barrymore suggested the cat needed a more "dignified" name, so the cat was renamed "Hamlet." Nowadays, whenever the hotel has a male cat, he's named Hamlet; but if the hotel has a female cat, she's named "Matilda." The current Algonquin cat, a Matilda, is a Ragdoll that was named 2006 cat of the year at the Westchester (New York) Cat Show. Visitors can spot Matilda on her personal chaise longue in the lobby; she can also be found in her favorite places: behind the computer on the front desk, or lounging on a baggage cart. The doormen feed her and the general manager's executive assistant answers Matilda's e-mail. During 2011, Matilda was temporarily confined to an upper floor or to the limits of a leash tethered to the check-in desk, due to a directive from the city Department of Health
 As of late 2011, Matilda has been confined to the non-food areas of the lobby by an electronic pet fence."
Since 1981, Bob Wilson, working in the hotel starting from 1981, on a question "What is your favorite memory of working at the hotel?" answered: " I have really enjoyed meeting the different mayors of New York who have all come to the hotel such as Guiliani, Koch and Dinkins. And one time, we had a guest who had a phobia of cats and really didn't like meeting our famous lobby cat Matilda. The guest was jumping up and down on the sofas and chairs in the lobby and I guess had no idea Matilda lived at the hotel. Anyway, the guest ended up staying at the hotel and apologizing for the scene in the lobby, but it was very funny." The cat has its own Facebook page.

  Alice de Almeida, the woman responsible for taking care of Matilda, told about the cat: She’s up at about 6 a.m. and she sits at the front desk waiting for me to arrive at 6:30, and then she eats. There is a woman in Russia who emails her all the time and sends gifts. There was a lady in Japan that hand-made an exact replica of her, two dolls, out of wool. Each strand of wool, strand by strand, she put those in. It looks exactly like Matilda. One is just Matilda, we have her in the showcase out front. And then I have one up here where she has her in a kimono.

Belvedere castle, Central Park

There are many mansions in New York city, but there is only one castle- Belvedere castle  -   a gothic structure in the middle of Central Park with a stone facade and turrets that’s meant to invoke the idea of a romantic Medieval villa.
Boasting one of the highest and most spectacular views in the park, Belvedere Castle sits atop Vista Rock.   Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park, created the miniature castle in 1869 as   a lookout to the reservoir to the north (now the Great Lawn) and the Ramble to the south. 

New York's Central Park,  the first urban landscaped park in the United States, was  conceived in the salons of wealthy New Yorkers in the early 1850's. The site for the new park offered rocky vistas, swamps  , and the old city reservoir.  Architectural structures were to be kept to a minimum--only four buildings, including the Belvedere castle,  existed in the original plans for the park. 

The castle was  built as a folly, a fantasy structure that provides a great backdrop and views, but without a real intended purpose. Building material of the castle was chosen to assure that it  was  integrated as naturally as possible into   surrounding landscapes. Portions of the castle are made from the same type of schist as the Vista Rock, creating the illusion of a castle rising out of the park itself.  This stone had been taken from the  granite quarried from Quincy, Massachusetts.
The original plans for the building included another  two-story structure on the site of today’s pavilion, but financial concerns halted construction.  When built it was an open-air structure, with no doors or windows!

In 1919   the United States Weather Bureau moved the Central Park Observatory to the castle. The first public meteorological observatory in New York was opened in 1869   in the Central Park Arsenal.   In 1911, the meteorological station was taken over by the United States Weather Bureau, and in 1912 it was moved to Belvedere Castle.  In the early  1960s, the Weather Bureau installed automated meteorological instruments,   the staff vacated the building and moved its offices to Rockefeller Center.    Only automated equipment to was left n the tower record the weather.    So when you hear  “The weather in Central Park is…” on the radio or television, remember the information comes from Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
Belvedere Castle was closed to the public and became an object of much vandalism, neglect and deterioration. The Central Park Conservancy launched a restoration effort and reopened the structure on May 1, 1983.

This castle has been converted into a visitor center with two lookout decks and a very tight winding staircase.  Inside the castle there  is a room with a    small collection  of natural history artifacts, such as skeletons and paper mâché birds.   But the best thing that you can have are the views!    The castle’s turret is the highest point in Central Park.  You can see all the skyscrapers   in midtown, as well as the upper west side from the lookouts.  The castle  is most easily approached from Central Park West at West 81st Street.

Eldridge Street Synagogue in Chinatown

Tucked away in lower Manhattan, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, there is a beautiful synagogue that served the large Jewish community that came from Europe in the 19th century.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue is one of the first synagogues erected in the United States by Eastern European Jews. Between 1880 and 1924, two and a half million East European Jews came to the United States.

Close to 85 percent of them came to New York City, and approximately 75 percent of those settled initially on the Lower East Side. The Eldridge Street Synagogue opened its doors at 12 Eldridge Street on September 4, 1887, just in time for the Jewish High Holidays.
Hundreds of newly arrived immigrants from Russia and Poland gathered here to pray, socialize and build a community. It was the first time in America that Jews of Eastern Europe had built a synagogue from the ground up. The synagogue was built with the support of successful Eastern European immigrants who could afford major contributions to its initial $92,000 cost.

The synagogue even paid for the distinguished Russian cantor to move to New York and lead the congregation. The synagogue’s architects were two little-known German brothers named Herter, who also built tenements and lofts in the neighborhood. 
The building reflects a mix of Moorish, Romanesque, and Gothic influences, with 70-foot vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, intricate carvings, and trompe l’oei murals. "Trompe l’oei " is French word for “trick the eye,” used to mimic the appearance of something three-dimensional.

Faux finishes were used to make walls and columns look like marble. For almost forty years, the synagogue flourished. Men and women came in their finery, and mounted policemen patrolled the crowds. By 1910 the neighborhood of the Eldridge Street Synagogue contained half a million Jews, one of the largest Jewish populations of any city in the world. 
 Immigration Act of 1924 was signed into law on May 26, 1924. The act established a quota system that limited immigration from southern and eastern Europe (primarily Jewish and Slavic). By the 1920’s, nearly one-third of the American population consisted of immigrants and their families. 

Between 1880 and 1924, approximately two million European Jews entered the country. In the year after passage of the new immigration law, fewer than 10,000 European Jews were able to enter on an annual basis. This act and a Great Depression affected the congregation’s fortunes. From the 1940s on, the main sanctuary was used less and less.
  By the 1950s, a depleted but stalwart congregation could no longer afford the repairs needed to maintain the building, or even to heat its sanctuary, and met in the street level chapel. In the 1970s and 1980s, the congregation still prayed in the street-level chapel, but the building itself was in disrepair.

Hoping to preserve and ultimately restore the building, the journalist and preservationist Roberta Brandes Gratz and attorney William Josephson incorporated the not-for-profit, Eldridge Street Project (renamed the Museum at Eldridge Street). 

The Museum completed the Eldridge Street Synagogue restoration in December 2007, the synagogue’s 120th anniversary. in 1997 the Synagogue reopened after a restoration that took 20 years and cost $20 million. A radiantly modern east rose window was installed in 2010. A Rose window, the gothic architectural feature, usually associated with Christian cathedrals, is a very uncommon element of synagogue. 

It was borrowed by the synagogue’s architects, recent German immigrants. Today the Eldridge Street Synagogue is home to the Museum at Eldridge Street, which welcomes people from around the world for tours, school programs, concerts, lectures, festivals and other cultural events. The small Orthodox congregation of this Synagogue has never missed a Saturday or holiday service in the more than 120 years since the synagogue first opened.  The museum now receives 40,000 or so visitors a year. Museum works Sunday – Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. Synagogue tours are offered on the hour (10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3 & 4). Monday is a free day to visit the museum.

Easter Parade 2015

I was on the Easter Parade a year ago and wrote about it in one of my posts.  So this year I'd like just to publish  the best of hundreds pictures that I did.  I really love it and enjoy very much. This is not a formal parade but the opportunity to dress up and walk  up and down 5th Avenue, taking pictures of other participants and being photographed oneself.