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Guest Photography from 25 October 2008 forward

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Monday, May 4, 2009 To Hell and Back

Midtown Manhattan, as photographed by our friend the high-powered attorney starting in the middle of everything, which is generally Rockefeller Center. Some think of it as the center of the world.

Barry Faulkner's mosaic, Intelligence Awakening Mankind - the loggia of 1250 Avenue of the Americas

The explanation:

    Barry Faulkner's colorful mosaic, Intelligence Awakening Mankind, has graced the loggia of 1250 Avenue of the Americas since its installation in 1933. A masterwork of small glass tiles (tesserae) set in white cement, the 79' x 14' piece was fabricated in a workshop in Long Island City and is composed of over one million glass tiles in 252 colors. Each small tile was hand cut and hand-set.

    Intelligence Awakening Mankind is a narrative, with Thought as God, saving mankind from the evils of ignorance, poverty, cruelty, and fear. The central figure symbolizes Thought, or intelligence. She stands over the world, emanating golden current of energy representing waves of knowledge, and controlling all the action depicted around her.

    She is flanked by two angels, Written Words and Spoken Words. Fiery pits stand at the end of each mosaic, into which the evils, represented as green coppery figures are banished. Two pairs of proletariat couples, stand to the sides of the pits, but with their gaze fixed away, towards the winged seraphim, representing subjects that enlighten civilization - History, Religion, Drama, Sports, Politics, Philosophy, Hygiene and Publicity.

Publicity?

Radio City Music Hall, photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

Everyone knows Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall, photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

Okay, Rockefeller Center and you're looking east, with the skating rink in front and below you, looking right at Saks Fifth Avenue, and above it, the rather awful Swiss Bank Building, by Abramovitz Kingsland Schiff and Lee Harris Pomeroy, finished in 1990.  Ignore it.  On the right in the alley leading to Fifth Avenue there used to be a French bookstore if you read French.  Maybe it's still there. Over your right shoulder, behind you, up on the second floor behind the glass walls, Chris Matthews is finishing up and Keith Olbermann starting his show at NBC.

Rockefeller Center, photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

Things change the famous publishing house is now a place to buy discount perfume from the French chain

Scribner's headquarters in midtown Manhattan now a Sephora outlet - photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

Some things don't change

Bank of New York plaque, photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

Yep, it's the home of the Algonquin Round Table from 1919 through 1929. Charter members included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woollcott, and of course Harold Ross, who edited the New Yorker seemingly forever.  Casual members included Tallulah Bankhead, Edna Ferber and Harpo Marx.  Those days are gone.

Algonquin Hotel, photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

The Town Hall 123 West 43rd Street, between Sixth Avenue and Broadway and of course they renamed Sixth Avenue, as the Avenue of the Americas. Only tourists call it that.  And the Town Hall opened way back before all that, on January 12, 1921.  Later that year Richard Strauss gave a series of concerts there.  Marian Anderson made her New York debut at the Hall on December 30, 1935 the world of opera wasn't ready for a black woman, but that was stupid.

As for this month's programs, you already missed his holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Town Hall - 123 West 43rd Street, between Sixth Avenue and Broadway, photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

Ah, that Beaux-Arts thing, the New York Yacht Club, 37 West 44, between Fifth and Sixth from 1901, Warren and Wetmore

The New York Yacht Club, photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

Of course, by way of contrast, just to the west of all this eye candy is the area known as Hell's Kitchen. The real estate people like to call it the Clinton District that sounds better.  It's still Hell's Kitchen.

Terrific Tenements, 425 West 48th Street, NYC - photograph by Martin A. Hewitt
Hell's Kitchen Park, 10 Avenue between West 47-48 Street, NYC - photograph by Martin A. Hewitt
Motion Picture Studio Mechanics, Local 52, 326 West 48th Street, NYC - photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

But back in midtown, at the center of everything, at 1114 Avenue of the Americas, the International Center of Photography

International Center of Photography, 1114 Avenue of the Americas - photograph by Martin A. Hewitt

Photos Copyright © 2009 Martin A Hewitt, used with permission, Notes by A. Pavlik.

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