Thursday, August 26, 2010

Facades to Pedestals

In the middle of midtown shopping and tourist chaos, at 34th Street, where Broadway and 6th Avenue meet, is a small park maintained by one of my employers, the 34th Street Partnership, called Herald Square. This small triangle of land was named after the New York Herald, a daily newspaper established in 1835 by James Gordon Bennett, Sr. (1795-1872). Known primarily for its sensationalistic coverage of crime and scandal, as well as a massive national circulation, the Herald set up its headquarters at the north end of this small green space in 1894, in a two story arcaded building designed by architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White.

postcard from around 1898 showing the Herald building, as well as the Dodge monument

The ornate building featured several bronze owls mounted along the façade as well as statues of Minerva and two bell-ringing blacksmiths, nicknamed “Stuff and Guff” or “Gog and Magog.”

At this time, the James Earle Dodge monument, now in Bryant Park, occupied a stately position in front of the Herald building. More on him later . . .

Minerva on top of the Herald, and later, as part of the James Gordon Bennett monument

In 1918, the Herald moved its offices to 42nd street, and three years later, the statues were removed from the building’s façade. They went into the possession of William Dewart, then proprietor of the New York Sun. Years later, in 1940, when Herald Square underwent a massive renovation, the statues were given to the city on permanent loan and placed in a Milford granite pedestal in Herald Square Park. The pedestal, designed by architect Aymar Emburry II, along with the statues from the Herald building make up a monument to James Gordon Bennett. The dedication ceremony was held on November 19, 1940.

Before and After contrast

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