One of the crown jewels of Manhattan, the grand dame of New York City, is turning 100. We are talking, of course, about Grand Central Terminal. A century ago, on February 2, 1913 – after a decade of construction – the building that would revolutionize commuter train travel opened its doors.

There isn’t anything to say that hasn’t been said before about the building’s grandiose and tumultuous history. So, we offer something else to commemorate one of the most amazing buildings in the city: a 360 look at Grand Central. Part of a larger project photographing iconic landmarks in glorious 360 degrees, we teamed up with Shots 360 and photographer Thomas Erh, the man behind the lens of interactive 360ยบ panoramic photography, to document some of our favorite Old New York places.



OHNY | Edward Hopper House

My unconditional admiration for Edward Hopper started with a painting that I found by chance, when wandering the empty galleries of the Whitney Museum’s permanent collection. I was looking for inspiration, for something to write about, and there it was Early Sunday Morning, speaking to me, reminding me of a bygone New York that Hopper so fondly treasured. The simplicity of its composition made me fall in love with the old city once again, but most importantly, it made me fall in love with Hopper and his nostalgic scenes of brownstones and theatre interiors.

I became obsessed with the idea of finding the original location that had inspired him paint Early Sunday Morning in 1930. I delved into archives around the city, and with a little bit of luck, I was able to find a picture at the New York City Photograph Collection that portrayed what for me was the source of Early Sunday Morning. My instincts were telling me that the modest two-story building once standing at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Eighteenth Street, with its unadorned windows and street-level storefronts, had too much of a resemblance to be a mere coincidence. Also, Hopper lived near by and frequently walked around the neighborhood in search of inspiration.

Hopper had his home and studio at 3 Washington Square North,  a townhouse that today is part of the New York University campus. For my excitement and absolute delight,  NYU opened Hopper’s studio for visitation as part of the Open House New York weekend on October 5-7,  2012. It was only for one day,  last Sunday,  and I went in the morning. Located at the top floor,  the place is preserved intact. The very little is all there: the old fridge and tank,  the low bench,  the wooden bookcase,  the stove,  the fireplace,  the press,  and the imposing easel,  which Hopper used to paint some of his most famous works. He moved to this address in 1913 at 31 years of age,  when he was still a bachelor. In 1924 he married the also artist Josephine Nivison,  who then occupied the inner studio,  adjacent to Hopper’s space.

For me everything finally fell into place. The austerity of his studio unmistakably reflected the quietness and soberness of his compositions. I was seeing the emptiness, the solitude, and the introspection that he so masterfully transcribed to his scenes and characters. I sensed his reserved personality and his keen eye for capturing moments that could not be fully translated into words. I cherished his simplicity and humbleness, making me admire him even more not only as an artist, but also as a person. I only regret it was raining that morning, for I missed to see the light that probably inundated the place from the ceiling, nourishing him with those warm and naturalistic tones that became the essence of his paintings. Some might say I missed the most important, I prefer to believe the rain was his invitation for my returning.

If you missed the Open House New York weekend, you can still visit Hopper’s studio by making an appointment via Edward Hopper House Art Center. Early Sunday Morning is always on view at the Whitney Museum. They sometimes change its place and include it in temporary exhibitions, but it’s always there. From the old building in the archival photograph only the fire hydrant remains at the same place. 

A guest post by Francine Kath from NYartRider


OHNY - Brooklyn Army Terminal

We always wanted to see what the Brooklyn Army Terminal looked like on the inside. Sure, we have seen photos, but we really wanted to experience it in person. Lucky for us, the Brooklyn Army Terminal was one of the sites of this year's Open House New York.

Designed by architect Cass Gilbert,  the complex was commissioned in 1918 and completed 17 months later in 1919 – all 5 million square feet of it. Up through World War II, it was the largest military supply base in the country.

The futuristic looking design included 96 centrally controlled push button elevators, which at the time was the largest elevator installation ever constructed.  To us, the building seems to evoke a “Blade Runner” vibe, which is so different from Gilbert’s other work, the most famous of which is the Woolworth Building.

The balconies in the two main buildings are actually loading bays, reached via a crane that runs the length of the building. 

During WWII, 56,000 people worked her, both military and civilians. During its years of operation, more than 3 million troops passed through the terminal – including one very famous Elvis Presley who shipped to Germany from here in September of 1958.

The city of New York purchased the terminal from the federal government in 1981 for the purpose of using the space for light manufacturing. The complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983. 

OHNY is one of our favorite city-wide events. Last year we visited the TWA terminal at JFK, the Catacombs at Green-Wood cemetery, Louis Armstrong's House, the Chrysler Building lobby, and the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen. We are already looking forward to next year!