Monday, August 24, 2015

Lenin on the roof in East Village

Houston Street is one of the city’s major, and broadest, cross town arteries.  The street's name is pronounced "HOUSE-ton"  because it was named after  William Houstoun,  a lawyer from Georgia. William died in 1813, his body was brought to NYC from Savannah and interred at St. Paul’s Chapel. The spelling  of the street changed later but    pronunciation did not change.

 There are several interesting buildings on this street  and one of them is named Red Square. This 13-story, red-brick building with doorman and concierge, a sundeck, a private garden, video security and   spectacular views in all directions was built in    1989. It was developed by Michael Rosen. In 1983 Rosen came to New York as a junior professor   of radical sociology at NYU, and left five years later to develop real estate. "Red Square" was his first project.    According to Michael Rosen   web site,  his heroes have always been Martin Luther King, Jr.,   Mohandes Gandi, Walt Whitman, Hillel, Jesus, and Yasunari Kawabata.  In the article, published by New York Times  in April 1989  Michael said: "I thought it was a nice name, considering the location and the fact that the building is both red and squarish"  .

In 1989 Berlin wall collapsed, by the spring of 1989, the Soviet Union held its first multi-candidate elections in the newly established Congress of People's Deputies, Bush met with Gorbachev at Malta, the  dissolution of the USSR started- so maybe  the building was named "Read Square"    not  because of the shape of the building or the color of the walls? 
Let us look at the very top on the  "Read Square". There is an 18 foot statue of Lenin standing next to a rooftop clock. The  statue was originally created by Yuri Gerasimov, as a state commissioned work.   

  Michael Rosen told: The statue of Lenin was found by a partnership of 3 guys named Walker, Ursitti and McGinnis (WUM). They had an art business in NYC and the USSR, as that was stopping to become the USSR. They asked me to invest with them in a painting they said was worth quite a bit, and as a part of the deal they located a monumental Lenin statue because I wanted one for the roof of Red Square, and also a much smaller bronze statue of a grandfatherly Lenin sitting on a park bench

New York times in 1997  wrote: Red Square's name is related to changes in Eastern Europe,  Mr. Shaoul explained (...) Mr. Shaoul noted that Lenin faces Wall Street, capitalism's emblem, and the Lower East Side,  the home of the socialist movement.''
 
There is also a large clock on the side of the water towers. The clock's purpose was simple: cover the water tower and elevator roof . The clock's two faces, south and west, can be seen from the Brooklyn Bridge  and Broadway. The face of the clock is really unusual: the numbers are arranged in a very funny order: : 12, 1, 9, 6, 4, 10, 5, 11, 7, 2, 3 and 8.

The clock,   designed by graphic artist legend Tibor Kalman, a Hungarian immigrant ,  was based on an “Askew” watch featured in a Museum of Modern Art collection.  The clock  was created with the notion that as long as the familiar twelve was at the top it was immaterial where the rest of the numbers lie.  Born in Budapest in 1949, Kalman and his parents were forced to flee the Soviet invasion in 1956, and settle in US.   "I use contrary-ism in every part of my life. In design ... I'm always trying to turn things upside down and see if they look any better," -Tibor  said.
If you like the clock you can buy the watch on Amazon, also designed by Tibor where numbers are arranged  as 12,4,9,6,1,10,5,11,7,2,3,8