Adam and Eve, Time Warner Center

The Time Warner Center is  located on Columbus Circle at the southwest corner of Central Park. It is  the first major building to be completed in Manhattan after the September 11, 2001.     The buildings consists of two 80 story   towers  with a bridge like atrium between them.   Its scale is huge: a $1.7 billion investment bringing a major upscale shopping mall, a 5-star hotel, offices for 1,700 Time Warner employees and other companies, television studios, a jazz concert hall, residential apartments and more... The Shops at Columbus Circle represent some of the finest shopping in New York City.  You can read the story about the complex here.

As soon as you walk into the Time Warner Center you are confronted by this very large couple who are not shy and clearly here to shop for some designer clothing.   The twelve-foot statues were created by   the Colombian artist Fernando Botero.  Fernando Botero was born in 1932 in   Colombia .  In 1944 he took bullfighting classes with his uncle at La Macarena, the Medellin bullfighting ring. After a close call with a bull, Fernando decided to give up bullfighting and focus on what most interested him as a child: painting.  
Botero. Adam and Eve
In 1948, Fernando Botero exhibited his work for the first time in his hometown. In 1951, Botero moved to Bogota.  With the money he earned from the award and paintings he sold, Fernando Botero headed to Spain, to study at the Academia de Arte de San Fernando art school in Madrid.
His signature style, also known as "Boterismo", depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America, and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world.
Botero. President family.
Adam and Eve are the statues    that people love being photographed with - the lady usually clutching a certain part of Adam's anatomy and giggling.   The center's general manager, David Froelke, says, “We have an art dealer that comes in and redoes the patina from time to time, but it doesn’t last very long.”

 My father was a traveling salesman,” Botero said. “He died when I was five. He sold clothes and other things and he traveled on a mule. My mother was a seamstress. When I told my mother that I wanted to be an artist, she said, ‘You’re going to die of hunger.  Some people love my work, some people hate it.  You can’t be liked by everybody. There has been opposition in some places. I represent the opposite of what is happening in art today. But I don’t complain. It hasn’t hurt my career. I’m happy to have the success I have had.”

Botero. Adam and Eve. Monaco.
Botero is  one of the world’s wealthiest artists. His paintings and sculptures sell for millions of dollars and are in the collections of more than 50 museums.
In 2014 Fernando Botero set a new record at a Christie’s auction Monday night, when his bronze creation “Adam and Eve”  ( different version) sold for $2.5 million. The previous record for the Colombian artist, known for his oversized and exaggerated figures, was $2 million for his painting “Four Musicians,” which sold in 2006.

Adam and Eve  , sculpted in 1981, stand in the gardens in Monaco, below the Casino. Botero  donated 23 sculptures to sit in the plaza of his home town  Medellin, Colombia and Adam and Eve are among them.

Woolworth empire. Part 2

In 1913 the Woolworth Building was the tallest inhabited building in the world, and would remain so until the opening of the Chrysler Building, in 1929. It was built  for  F.W. Woolworth, a classic “self-made man” who rose from an impoverished background to establish F.W. Woolworth and Company, which at one time was the world’s largest merchandising operation.   You can find more on  in my previous post.

Woolworth  opened his first successful    store   in 1879. His chain grew rapidly.    By 1895 there were 28 stores.  In 1912 there were 318 Woolworth stores in operation. That year F.W. Woolworth and Company was incorporated.   With 596 stores and $65 million in capital, it was the world’s largest merchandising operation. Frank Woolworth was president of the new corporation. Originally with offices in the Sun Building, 280 Broadway, Woolworth decided to build his own headquarters. So in April 1910 Woolworth commissioned Gilbert to design the building on a site at Broadway and Park Place. 

    Cass Gilbert was one of the most prominent architects in the first quarter of the 20th century. He already built  Alexander Hamilton   Custom House ( now Museum of American Indians). 
 Woolworth wanted his new building to be the tallest in the world. He worked closely with his architect  during construction to ensure the achievement of this goal. As a result, the total cost of building the tower expanded from $5 million to around $13.5 million. Woolworth paid in cash. For most of the twentieth century the building never had a mortgage -- something almost unheard of for such a large commercial structure. Woolworth said: My idea was purely commercial. I saw possibilities of making this the greatest income producing property in which I could invest my money.
Construction of the skyscraper's steel frame began August 15, 1911, and rose at the rate of 1½ stories a week. Woolworth decided to record the building's construction for posterity and employed    photographer  to document the construction of the building at regular intervals.   These  photographs were sent out to Woolworth's stores all over the country.

At its opening, the Woolworth Building was 60 stories tall   -  a thirty-story tower set upon a thirty story base.  Woolworth Company only occupied one and a half stories of the building. The rest of the building was occupied by more than 1,000 tenants.
Woolworth promoted the skyscraper with a celebratory opening on April 24, 1913, staged as a great lighting spectacle. Eighty thousand incandescent bulbs illuminated the New York night.
 Woolworth subsequently deployed an image of the skyscraper as a trademark, to build consumer loyalty and to sharpen the Woolworth brand identity.
Cass  Gilbert, the architect of the building,  wrote to a colleague, "I sometimes wish I had never built the Woolworth Building because I fear it may be regarded as my only work and you and I both know that whatever it may be in dimension and in certain lines it is after all only skyscraper."

In 1913  The Wall Street Journal  wrote about the building:   By its combination of Italian, French and Renaissance architecture with Gothic steeple, in creamy white stone and terra cotta, the result is a building unique and one of the most beautiful in the world. The structure contains 29 elevators, 87 miles of electrical wiring   and can withstand wind speeds of 25 miles an hour.
Woolworth building is often called cathedral of commerce.  Emile Zola, a French novelist   (1840 –1902)     called Le Bon Marche, the first department store of Paris, a “cathedral of commerce” .  When  a Londoner named Alan Francis visited New York  soon after the skyscraper was built, he used the same words to describe the skyscraper:     "cathedral of commerce". Several years later    Samuel Parkes Cadman, a Brooklyn Congregational minister   used  "The Cathedral of Commerce"  as a title for the    booklet   published in 1916.

 The lobby of the building was one of the most spectacular of the early 20th century in New York City.  It is covered in marble,  has a vaulted ceiling, mosaics, a stained-glass ceiling light and bronze fittings.  Woolworth spent an enormous amount of money on the lobby. It is one of the most lavish spaces in New York.  A very prominent decorating firm  was hired to do most of the work inside. They prepared barrel-vaulted mosaics filled with flowers and birds and other ornament that were modeled after the early Christian mosaics in Ravenna, Italy.

 They were responsible for the stained-glass dome over the marble staircase that led to the Irving Bank. And it was they who put together the marble, the bronze, the plaster, the mosaics, and the stained glass—all of the different materials used to create this very special interior.  Frescos titled 'Commerce' and 'Labor', and a dozen marble busts, including one each of Gilbert and Woolworth adorned the lobby.

For decades since the 1940s the  lobby off-limits to the public making it among the city’s most exclusive landmarks. Now the great-granddaughter of the building's architect organized lobby tours.   So the only sanctioned way to see the lobby   is to book a tour, arranged by Helen Post Curry. Tours cost $15 for 30 minutes and $45 for 90 minutes.

When the building opened in 1913, one of its selling points was a health club complete with indoor pool and Turkish bath, open “day and night.” The pool was   built  and remained open until 1999, when it was finally drained.

Frank Woolworth  set his office on the 25th floor.    Woolworth idolized Napoleon Bonaparte. When he was a boy  one of his  favorite leisure activities was to visit with his brother  Josef the abandoned house of Joseph Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon's, which was nearby. For a while Joseph had been the King of Spain. Frank fancied being an Emperor!
 Frank  collected Napoleonic memorabilia and decorated his new office    with items from his trove, including a life-sized portrait of the Emperor in his coronation robes, a bust of Napoleon as Julius Caesar, and a clock purported to have been given to Napoleon by Czar Alexander I of Russia.

 In 2012 Alchemy Properties paid $68 million  and converted the top 30 floors of the Woolworth Building into luxury apartments. Called “the Castle in the Sky,” the  seven-floors penthouse  has  a two-story living room with a fireplace, an elevator and an outdoor observatory; the price is $110 million. Adjacent  apartments  that   cover the entire 29th floor  are listed for a combined $51.35 million.

The Woolworth Tower Residences will feature a 24-hour doorman, full-time on-site concierge, and personal mail delivery. Other exclusive amenities for residents include an entertainment lounge, a personal fitness studio, a pool, and a wine cellar with private wine storage for each residence.
Fantastic Beasts, is an upcoming British-American fantasy drama film inspired by the book of the same name by J. K. Rowling  will be released on 18 November 2016 in the United States. In this film  the Magical Congress of the United States  of America (American version of the Ministry of Magic)  is located  inside the Woolworth building

Woolworth empire. Part 1

What 99 cents  store, Foot Locker and skyscraper near City Hall in New York have  in common?  Woolworth is the name that stand behind all these three  objects.    Woolworth was the retail phenomenon of the twentieth century. It was the first brand to go global, building to more than 3,000 near-identical stores across the world.

 Frank Winfield Woolworth was born in a small town near  Great Lakes. His father was a farmer and he expected  his son to help him  milking the cows  before school and picking potatoes by hand in the evening.  

Frank left school at the age of sixteen to work full-time on the farm but he did not want to be a farmer -  he wanted to go to the night school to learn bookkeeping. Frank wanted to try commerce.  His mother gave Frank small allowance as pocket money for his first three months and he started working in local General Store. Frank had been working very hard   unpaid for three months.   After first three months    he got a job for $3.50 a week.   He was given responsibility for checking in goods, keeping the stockroom tidy, and for setting up displays. He established his own system and started to study the merchandise.  He later recalled with pleasure that the older ladies in-store liked to mother him, charmed by his bright blue eyes and cheeky smile.

 In 1878 Frank borrowed $300 and opened a five-cent store in Utica, New York . It failed within weeks. Woolworth opened his second store in April 1879, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he expanded the concept to include merchandise priced at ten cents. Sales were $127.65 on the first day.

 In its 1940 series entitled “Dime Store,” the Post recorded the inventory at Frank Woolworth’s store when it opened on February 22, 1879. It included:
Toy dustpans. Tin pepper boxes. Drinking cups. Gravy strainers. Tin scoops. Purses. Biscuit cutters. Flour dredges. Schoolbook straps. Egg whips. Apple corers. Fire shovels. Boot blacking. Animal-shaped soap. Animal-shaped Cake Cutters. Candlesticks. Ladles. ABC plates [plates with the alphabet inscribed around the rim]. Scalloped pie plates. Baseballs.   Tack hammers. Writing books.  Pencil charms.  Shaving Lather brushes.  Tin spoons. Police whistles. Pie plates. Red jewelry. Napkins, handkerchiefs, thread, and novelties.

Frank  opened a second branch in nearby Harrisburg, managed by his brother. The chain became very successful, mostly  due to a large influx of American immigrants attracted to the straightforward discount pricing strategy.

 In 1886 Woolworth moved to Brooklyn, New York, to be near wholesale suppliers. He lived at 209 Jefferson Avenue in Bedford. The first Brooklyn Woolworth store opened  in Brooklyn,  Fulton Street, in 1895.
The Woolworth chain grew rapidly.  By 1895 there were 28 stores, and sales reached the $1 million mark.  Woolworth thought that the presentation of goods is very important and he took the responsibility for planning window and counter displays for the whole chain. He created red store front which became its institutional hallmark.

The success of the chain between 1890 and 1910 was phenomenal.  By 1910 F.W. Woolworth and Company had nearly three hundred Five and Ten Cent Stores, including branches on the up market Ladies Mile, around 5th and 6th Avenue, in Manhattan, and seven branches in the United Kingdom.

Woolworth's opened its first British store in Liverpool in November 1909. It was a big success. The three floor emporium was always packed with customers. It had famously long lines.
By 1912, there were nearly 600 Woolworth’s stores around the United States and Canada. That year, F.W Woolworth Co. had its initial public offering on the NYSE. The proceeds were used primarily to fund the construction of the historic Woolworth Building.

One of the reasons for Woolworth’s success was a model that still works: importing goods from foreign markets with cheap labor. At that time it mean: Europe.  On a buying trip in Germany, Woolworth wrote:

It is no longer a mystery to me how they make dolls and toys so cheap, for most of it is done by women and children at their homes anywhere within 20 miles of this place. Some of the women in America think they have got hard work to do, but it is far different than the poor women here, that work night and day on toys, and strap them onto their backs, and go 10 or 20 miles through the mud with 75 pounds on their backs, to sell them.
Woolworths had dozens of outlets across the US by the time it arrived on British shores, and its owner had already made his fortune . The chain   become a quintessentially British institution, with a presence on almost every high street and a unique place in the hearts of the nation's shoppers.

For forty years Frank led Woolworth's from the front. He was the first to introduce  different   staff benefits.  Employees  had seek days.  There was a    fund  that made payouts for medical treatment and emergencies. Employees also had  paid holidays and generous Christmas bonuses.

Frank Woolworth  fell ill as he prepared elaborate fortieth birthday celebrations for Woolworths. He died on Tuesday 8 April 1919, just four days after leaving his desk for the last time. The obituary in the New York Times   said that 'he made his money not by selling a little for a lot, but by selling a lot for a little'.   
It’s just as surprising that the store could keep its shelves stocked only with 5¢ and 10¢ items for 55 years! By the 1930s, though, the store had bowed to inflation by allowing 20¢ as the top price they could charge.

By Woolworth’s 100th anniversary (1952) Woolworth  had become the largest department store chain in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Record. The Woolworth chain continued to prosper. As late as 1979, Woolworth, with its subsidiary Woolco, operated 800 stores.

In 1963, F.W. Woolworth Company purchased the Kinney Shoe Corporation, which ultimately branched into specialty shoe stores, including Foot Locker in 1974. The increased competition led to its decline beginning in the 1980s.  On March 17, 1997, Wal-Mart replaced Woolworth's as a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. On Jul 17, 1997  The Woolworth Corporation said   that it would shutter all 400 of its remaining five-and-dime stores. It was the end of Woolworth  Empire.

Retail chains using the Woolworth name survive in Austria, Germany, Mexico and, until the start of 2009, the United Kingdom. 

Merchant's House Museum

There is only one  nineteenth-century family home in New York City  that is  preserved intact , both inside and out.   House was among the first 20 buildings designated in 1965 under the City’s new landmarks law. It is the only historic house museum in the Greenwich Village/Soho/NoHo neighborhoods .  The house is located  between Lafayette Street and the Bowery in Manhattan.  Everything about this Federal-style building creates an immediate sense of warmth: It looks, feels, even smells like it could be a great-great-grandparent’s old house.
Both a New York City and a National Historic Landmark, this 1832 row house is among the finest surviving examples of late-Federal and Greek Revival architecture.

The house was owned by Seabury Tredwell’s family  almost for  hundred years- from 1835 until the death of Tredwell’s daughter Gertrude in 1933 at the age of 93.

Seabury Tredwell’s great-great-great grandfather  arrived to Massachusetts from   England, around 1637.  On his mother’s side, Seabury was directly descended from Mayflower passengers John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, whose romance was immortalized in 1858 in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s narrative poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish.”  In 1798, when he was 18, Seabury came to New York City.  He had a successful hardware business -   a warehouse in Downtown on Perl street. 

At the age of forty he married  to a beautiful 23- year old girl. In  1835  the family  moved   into a new Federal-style townhouse on East Fourth Street.  At the time, the area between Washington Square Park and recently opened Lafayette Place was the most fashionable section of the city. The merchant bought the house for    $18,000.
Seabury died in 1865 and the remaining family lived at the home into old age till his younger daughter  Gertrude died in 1933. Seven daughters and two sons of   Seabury lived in this house together. Only two daughters and one son ever married.

The younger daughter Gertrude had lived her entire life in the same house. At the age of 93 she  died  in the same room on the same bed in which she had been born. In her last years Gertrude had been living  alone in greatly reduced circumstances and she heavily mortgaged her house.
When the house and its contents were being prepared for auction, a great nephew  George Chapman bought it and made it into a museum. Museum opened its doors to public in 1936. In April of 1965, Mayor Robert F. Wagner signed into law legislation that would give way to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.  In the 50 years since its founding, the LPC has ruled on thousands of buildings and historic districts,  in its first year alone it designated 38 structures and Merchant house among them.

 In 1981, the interior of the Merchant’s House was formally designated as a landmarked site by the City of New York. Today it is one of only 114 sites to be so designated. The Museum’s collection of Tredwells’ original possessions comprise over  3000 objects: furnishings, decorations, lighting devices, household, personal and sewing accessories, family photographs, books, ephemera, works of art, costumes, and textiles. 
If you visit the Merchants House, you will see a vacant lot to its east and a one story garage to its west. The three low rise buildings on the east  were demolished in 1987, causing $1 million in damage to the Merchants House, shutting it down for two years.  In 2012, plans were submitted for a 9-story hotel on the lot to the west of the Merchants House.

 On April 82014 , the Landmarks Preservation Commission   approved plans for the hotel.
Every year in October, the Merchant's House is "in mourning" and is transformed into a display of Victorian mourning customs. They host lectures on Victorian death and dying customs and Victorian Halloween practices. They also host candlelight ghost tours since the Merchant's House is said to be the "most haunted site in New York City." One of the most popular events hosted by the Merchant's House is the reenactment of the 1865 funeral of Seabury Tredwell. The guests are encouraged to dress in Victorian mourning costume, or all black. The funeral is held in the parlor,   and then the casket is carried by pallbearers to the New York City Marble Cemetery where there is a graveside service.

Museum is open    Friday through Monday, 12 to 5 p.m.  Every Thursday in June and July, the Merchant’s House Museum and Garden are open until 8 p.m. I visited this  museum  for free on Open House weekend.  I was the only  one visitor!

Valentines Day 2016 on Times Square

Times Square, Heart of Hearts 2016
Approximately 150 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine's Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. The Valentine's Day   roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15.  In legend the twin-founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were thrown into the River Tiber on the orders of their usurping uncle. The babies   were found by a she-wolf, who suckled them and raised them with her mate. Later they were  found  by the shepherd  his wife . 

These two brothers  founded the Eternal City. Once restored to their regal position, the brothers rediscovered the den and called it the Lupercal (the wolves cave.) It became a sacred site along with the remains of the shepherd's hut.

Lupercalian festivities continued until Pope Gelasius I outlawed them in 494CE. 
Plutarch described: Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.

 In  494CE the Church instituted the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. The feast day of St Valentine was added to the calendar two years later. The habit of sending love tokens on this date goes back to at least the 14th century.

During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance and love.
Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of   The Canterbury Tales, in his 1382 year poem  700 “Parliament of Foules,”   wrote: “For this was Saint Valentine’s day, when every bird of every kind that men can imagine comes to this place to choose his mate.”
  The earliest description of February 14 as an annual celebration of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love,   issued by Charles VI of France   in 1400.  It describes lavish festivities to be attended by several members of the royal court, including a feast, amorous song and poetry competitions, jousting and dancing.
 In 16th century  Shakespeare wrote:

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

In 18th century  the idea of exchanging love note cards on Valentine’s Day started to become extremely popular in Britain.  This tradition of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day soon spread to America. First mass-produced Valentine's Day cards with embossed paper lace were  produced in United States shortly after 1847.

Times Square, 2014
 This year is  the ninth  year in a row when different  installations devoted to the Valentines' day are installed on Times Square.
In 2014 "Match-Maker",  heart-shaped  sculpture  was installed in Times Square. The cluster of red and pink periscopes were  bookended with zodiac signs, so visitors  were able  match themselves to other astrologically-compatible mates.

Last year it was a  HeartBeat - a sculpture, that consisted of  a massive heart glowing to the rhythm of a strong, deep and low frequency heartbeat sound.
This year, 2016,   people could see   Heart of Hearts, a faceted ring of twelve golden, mirrored hearts installed in the middle of Times Square.  The  first time   a Valentine Heart   reached 10 feet.  The installation is designed by Collective-LOK, which is made up of New York and Boston architects.
Heart of Hearts won this year’s Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition, organized by Times Square Arts . This is the ninth year of the competition.

New York-based initiative Collective-CLOK  called  the installation “an engagement ring for our love affair with the spectacle of Times Square”.
 ''Heart of Hearts'', was  unveiled on February 9, and remain on view through March 6 at Father Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th Streets.

Kneeling Fireman, statue

The dramatic statue of a firefighter on bended knee is located  at  43rd Street near the  headquarters of Emigrant Savings Bank.
The "Kneeling Fireman"  is one of NYC's 1st memorials to 9/11. The statue  arrived in New York City two days before the death and destruction on 9/11 because it was   originally commissioned by the Firefighters Association of Missouri.

Over 100 fire departments in Missouri  met in   1954 for the purpose of forming a state-wide firemen’s association.  Since organizing in 1954, the organization has grown from 600 members to more than 7,000 members.

October 2000 Matthews International Corporation of Pittsburgh received the commission to create the bronze statue for the Firefighters Association of Missouri.   The Matthews International   was formed in the middle of the 19th century when the founder of the company  John Dixon Matthews arrive in US from England. Among the Matthews Bronze products are flush bronze memorials, cremation urns, and monuments. One of the most famous of the company's bronze memorials marks the grave of Elvis Presley.

The statue for Missouri was custom manufactured by Matthews plant in Parma, Italy  in August 2001.   On September 11, 2001 a 2,700-pound bronze statute  sat at JFK International Airport en route from Italy. 
"Our customers started calling us to find out if we had plaques, anything commemorative," Corinne Laboon, Matthews' public relations director said. "We sat down to discuss ideas and someone brought up the firefighter statue. We called the Firefighters Association and without hesitation they decided to dedicate the statue, with Matthews, to the citizens of New York." Matthews  promised to the Firefighters Association of Missouri that Matthews would make and supply them a duplicate firefighter statue.
The employees at Matthews  Pittsburgh bronze plant  quickly  made two plaques that accompany the statue. The Emergency Services plaque depicted sculpted images of firefighters, police officers and emergency services personnel in the line of duty. The second plaque entitled, "America the Beautiful", included popular U.S. scenes such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore and the Liberty Bell framed by the words to the song " America the Beautiful".
New York Post said on 09/20/2001:
A bronze statue of an anguished firefighter was displayed in Midtown yesterday, causing passers-by to reflect, shed tears and pay respect to New York’s rescue heroes. The statue, which needs a permanent home, depicts a kneeling firefighter with his face buried in his right hand

He might be dejected over the death of a fellow fireman – or he could be a rescue worker kneeling from exhaustion,” said David DeCarlo of Matthews Bronze, the Pittsburgh company which designed the statue.  “I decided it was meant to stay here ”. 

DeCarlo drove from Pittsburgh to the airport and put the statue on the back of a flatbed truck, along with two plaques . Then he drove the statue to Midtown, where it was parked Tuesday in front of the Milford Plaza Hotel, owned by Milstein Family, on Eighth Avenue at West 44th Street.  People laid flowers and candles by the statue." 
 Milford Plaza Hotel  played an important role in emergency response, donating hundreds of rooms for volunteers from across the nation who came to help with the search and relief efforts. Thousands of New Yorkers and tourists visited the statue, many leaving candles, notes, prayer books, toys, and photos of loved ones lost in the tragedy.
Morris Milstein emigrated from Russia to New York in the early twentieth century. He   started out scraping and refinishing wood floors.  By 1919  Morris had founded the Circle Floor Company. His two children, Paul and Seymour, ventured into the construction and real estate business.   The family developed some 50,000 apartments, 8,000 hotel rooms and 20 million square feet of office space.
Memorial in Missouri

Ten  years after the statue was created,   in 2011 "The Kneeling Fireman" found  a  permanent home at Emigrant's Midtown Headquarters,  owned by  Milstein Family.
 “I am honored to be able to provide a home for this noble and inspiring statue,” said Howard P. Milstein, chairman and CEO of Emigrant, in a statement. “It is a fitting tribute to all first responders who answered the call on that fateful day.”
The copy of the statue was  unveiled in Missouri during the Memorial dedication on May 18, 2002.

Fresh flowers in the Great Hall , Metropolitan Museum of Art

The gorgeous, enormous flower arrangements in the Great Hall  in   the Metropolitan Museum of Art intrigue  and amaze   visitors. They are so big!  And spectacular!  Every week  bouquets   in  four large niches carved from the central piers, as well as the centrally located Information Desk  are refreshed. This wonderful tradition started in 1969 when the late Lila Acheson Wallace 1969  established a permanent fund to ensure that fresh flowers would always be on display.

December 2015
June 2014
Lila and her husband DeWitt were one of the most influential husband-and-wife teams in mid-20th century. DeWitt and  Lila  married in 1922, in Pleasanton, New York, the future home of Reader’s Digest. They decided to start the magazine themselves. Working out of a basement in Manhattan, the couple published their first issue of Readers Digest  in February 1922, with an initial run of 1,500 copies. By the end of the 20th century the magazine had the largest circulation of any publication in the world.

Lila’s philanthropic impulses were oriented more toward the arts.  For 12 years, she served as a trustee of the Juilliard School to which she donated money to construct a library.
One of her major interests was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She donated money to Metropolitan museum and  in 1983, its rich collection of Egyptian art went on permanent display in 32 galleries named in her honor.
June 2015

While the Museum’s Great Hall was being restored, she came in once a week to monitor the progress. When the hall was completed, she established a permanent fund for fresh flowers in the hall.  She said it gave her great pleasure to ensure that the Great Hall would always include “living beauty.”
The flowers are now designed by the museum’s in-house floral artist, Remco van Vliet.    Remco Van Vliet  is a third generation Dutch florist.  
Mr. van Vliet's father, who had a shop that often worked for the Dutch royal family, trained his sons. Upon moving to New York City 25 years ago, Remco spent 6 years working with Chris Giftos, event pioneer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, before being given the prestigious opportunity to become his successor.

March 2014
Chris Giftos went to work for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early 1970s and did arrangements for the museum's special events, working with New York society.

He was in charge of escorting Princess Diana for the opening of the Christian Dior exhibit at the museum in 1996. He worked with first ladies such as Bess Truman, Jacqueline Kennedy and Pat Nixon and did the floral arrangements for a luncheon for Ronald Reagan's second presidential inauguration.
Giftos also created the Elizabeth Taylor's wedding bouquet of yellow freesias.

October 2014 
Remco Van Vliet and his half brother, Cas Trap, company  Van Vliet & Trap now    has the contract to create event designs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New York Philharmonic. The brothers' dream is to spread a northern European floral sensibility the way French couturiers revolutionized fashion in the 1940s. "We want to show people that they shouldn't be intimidated by flowers, that having living things in your house isn't just a luxury. Its crucial," says Trap.

September 2014

For 10 years, artist Abbie Zabar had a ritual: go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and sketch the new floral arrangements adorning the entrance hall. Selections from her Flowers in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art series were on view at Wave Hill in the Bronx last summer. 

Abbie Zabar , 1994 Flowers

Abbie Zabar , 1997 Flowers