Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cunard building on Broadway

Cunard building 
The former White Star office on the Broadway,
next door to Cunard
Titanic's intended destination was New York. The story about Titanic is the story about New York. The victims included well-known New Yorkers like Isidor Straus, who owned Macy’s department store with his brother,   John Jacob Astor IV, who  owned more hotels and skyscrapers than any other New Yorker and Benjamin Guggenheim,  the  brother of the founder of Solomon Guggenheim museum in New York and the father of Peggy Guggenheim, the founder of the famous  museums in Venice  and Bilbao.

Titanic was operated by prominent British shipping company White Star Line with the office in Bowling Green building on Broadway.   In the days following the Titanic’s sinking, thousands gathered outside for word of survivors, as wireless communications were sent directly to the White Star’s offices.  Cunard is located directly next door at #25.  



Carpathia
Cunard Line transatlantic passenger steamship Carpathia   saved about 700 of the passengers from Titanic . Carpathia made her maiden voyage in 1903.   In July 1918  she  was  torpedoed by the German submarine U-55  in the Atlantic.  Five of her crew lost their lives in the sinking. 


British shipping magnate Sir Samuel Cunard, a son of  carpenter  who worked for the British garrison ,  was born  in   Nova Scotia  in 1787.  His father fled the American Revolution and settled in Halifax. In 1839 Cunard was awarded the first British trans-Atlantic steamship mail contract  and in  1840 the company's first steamship, the Britannia, sailed from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia and on to Boston, Massachusetts, with Cunard and 63 other passengers on board.  For the next thirty years the  ships on the Liverpool–Halifax–Boston route were the quickest.
The Cunard Building opened on May 2, 1921.  The  site of 25 Broadway has long been associated with maritime trade and travel. In 17th century this  location contained several Dutch colonial dwellings, one of which belonged a skipper and part-owner of a trading yacht.




 In 1846, Swiss-born restaurateurs Joseph and Lorenzo Delmonico  opened a restaurant on the site.  In 1856 there was Stevens House hotel.
In  1918 the long-established real estate   company acquired the individual lots for $5 million.  Cunard's decision to build its own headquarters in New York   signaled the city's growing supremacy as a world port.  Cunard suffered enormous losses in the Great Depression of the 1930s  and   in  1934 Cunard and    WhiteStar Lines merged in.  Together  these two companies carried over one-quarter of North Atlantic passengers. Later the company relocated to No. 555 Fifth Avenue,

Cunard building lobby

The first floor  of the building was made a New York City Landmark. Its walls and vaulted ceilings, adorned with ornate images of steamship routes and sea life. The  Great Hall is an Italian neo-renaissance masterpiece. Designed by Benjamin Wistar Morris and completed in 1921, this grand space features 65 foot high ceilings, soaring marble columns, magnificent inlaid floors and murals painted by Ezra Winter. 


 In 1968   Cunard moved its offices to 555 Fifth Avenue. a more advantageous location for booking passengers on ships which had become "floating resorts".  Though the upper floors remained rented, the Great Hall was vacated in 1971. In 1974 the U.S. Postal Service leased the vacant Great Hall and other spaces in the building.
In 1995 the first floor interior, formerly Cunard's ticketing office, was designated a New York City landmark.
 Post Office was closed in  2000.
 In  2014  the Great Hall   was carefully restored and reopened as an elegant  special-event space owned by  Cipriani,    a privately owned international corporation  that   specializes in traditional Italian food.