Sunday, March 27, 2011

New York Oh New York...

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) a nonprofit, membership-based organization that fights for intelligent urban planning, design, and preservation through education, dialogue and advocacy celebrated its fifty-second year of offering walking tours to the public in 2009. In 2008 more that 10,000 people participated. I picked this excellently illustrated (photography by Edward A Toran) 10 Architectural Walks in Manhattan by Francis Morrone & Matthew A Postal, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York counter, at Macy's on 34th street.

No way would I have the time to see and appreciate all the buildings and architecture of Manhattan, so this book would be a great weekend browse haha.

Kent L Barwick, president emeritus of the Municipal Art Society of New York, in his foreword wrote: '...on april 8, 1956, architectural historian Henry Hope Reed led what was not only the first Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) walking tour but also probably New York's first architectural walking tour for the general public. It was so novel that that the New York Times sent a reporter and a photographer to cover it. The Times's reporter documented the bewildered looks and comments of passersby at the sight of thirty-eight individuals walking along the streets through a spring snowstorm, stopping to look at old buildings. The group was taken for bird-watchers or people in search of rooms to rent. In fact, the hardy tour-takers were part of a MAS effort to build a constituency that would support the preservation of the city's notable architecture.'

This illustrated guidebook takes visitors to the great buildings, spaces and neighbourhoods of manhattan. Highlights include downtown New York for a look at preservation, planning and early skyscapers; Madison Square with its pantheon of nineteenth century sculpture; New York's newest elevated park, the High Line; Art Deco structures in Midtown; the Beaux-Arts grandeur of Grand Central Terminal; modernist structures around Columbus Circle and Park Avenue; the splendour of Central Park; and Harlem's Hamilton Heights neighbourhood.

I wanted to visit New York way back in 1988 when my cousin was then the deputy director of MIDA in New York but it never happened. I had dinner with him the other night with his daughter who was born in Manhattan. Their apartment was not far away from Macy's.

We have no less interesting buildings and architecture, both old and new. From Moorish architecture to modern intelligent ones too. When I was enjoying the architecture of Chicago in 2009, the guide gave tribute and mentioned our Petronas Twin Towers while explaining some of their skyscrapers!

In 2009 I landed in Newark on transit to Chicago. This time around I enjoyed the chats with an Uzbek, Jewish and Russian taxi drivers on the way to and from La Guardia and JFK...haha.. New York never sleeps they say.. Its difficult not to fall in love with New York..a potpourri of ethnicity, truly diverse and multicultural...

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