A show at the New York School of Interior Design, “Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Landmark Interiors,” opening March 6 and running through April 24, is a blockbuster featuring surprising photographs of landmarked public spaces that will happily never see the wrecking ball.
Inconceivable as it may be — especially following the civic tragedy that was the destruction of Penn Station in 1963 — New York City was on the verge of losing Grand Central in 1975, and that was after the 1973 Landmarks ruling that interiors could also be designated as landmarks. The remarkable photographs by Larry Lederman from the new show at the New York School of Interior Design feature the city’s most-treasured landmarked interiors, like the great hall of the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway.
A detail of the magnificent frescoed murals by Ezra Winter within the central octagon of the 185-foot-long Ticketing Hall in the Cunard building, completed in 1921, when grand ocean liners ruled the sea.
Judith Gura (who, along with Kitty Hawks, Kate Wood, and Hugh Hardy, curated this show) writes of the legendary Della Robbia Bar: “These are the only remaining elements of the restaurant in the former Vanderbilt Hotel, with vaults of Guastavino tile in herringbone patterns and decorative bands and borders of Rookwood tile.” Gura is a co-author, with Wood, of the book Interior Landmarks: Treasures of New York, for Monacalli, due out in October.
Lederman’s photographs shed light not only on incredible interiors but also on the details that are hard to see with the naked eye. Here is the elliptical dome of Building C in Sailors’ Snug Harbor on Staten Island. The painted decorations are by Charles Berry.
Is this Rome? No, it’s a detail of the wraparound gallery, made from honey-colored Sienna marble with classical decorative motifs, in the Surrogate’s Court Building.
In the U.S. Custom House building, artist Reginald Marsh painted a series of frescoes depicting the ships of New York Harbor. These paintings surround the dome in the atrium of the building.
Who knew that the city harbored such jaw-dropping interiors? The wood-paneled Commissioner’s Room at the U.S. Custom House has a painted coffered ceiling worthy of one of Queen Elizabeth I’s palaces, not to mention the carved-wood paneling and paintings.
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald must have frequented the Mark Hellinger Theatre back in the day. This theater is the only remaining example of the Times Square movie palaces of the 1920s. The grandeur of the foyer, with its domed ceiling painted with frolicking nymphs and bronze-and-glass chandelier, is a throwback to Gilded Age opulence.
A visit to the Dime Savings Bank — with its red marble columns supporting a huge dome, the floor of which features a magnificent three-faced bronze clock — must have left people pretty speechless, as it still does today. The floor, made of marble mosaic, echoes the pattern of the coffered ceiling above.