Over the past 200 years, Broadway was the center stage for many that came to make their fortunes in the big city. Foundations for the world’s second Virgin Hotel, part of billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, are underway at 1205, 1225, and 1227 Broadway, between West 29th and West 30th streets. The site’s relevance in the city’s history is rooted deeper than the new skyscraper’s supports. Before it housed the three 1920s office and retail buildings that graced the site until 2015, the block was home to a prominent theater row, a theater-museum built by John Banvard, once the world’s richest and most famous artist, and a number of other ventures worthy of remembrance and commemoration, undertaken by the gritty and relentlessly driven people that give New York its signature flair and energy.
As befitting one of the planet’s key engines of economic and cultural motion, New York City exists in a state of constant change. This is particularly true for the city’s older, centrally located neighborhoods, such as TriBeCa. Over the past two centuries, its western portion along West Street has been repeatedly transformed beyond recognition, particularly by the 1960s urban renewal program that completely cleared dozens of formerly-vibrant blocks. But even there, a 32-year building life span is short by any measure.
It took over a decade and nearly $4 billion, but the main concourse of the Santiago Calatrava-designed World Trade Center Transportation Hub, known as the Oculus, opened in early March. It’s located along Greenwich Street, in between the nearly topped out 3 World Trade Center and the site of what will be 2 World Trade Center. We now have a new look at its construction, via a time-lapse produced by EarthCam.
As this month got underway, we brought you the unfortunate news regarding the landmark Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava at 15 West 25th Street, designed by Richard Upjohn, the architect of the Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan. The 1855 building, which was the city’s only house of prayer servicing the Serbian Orthodox community, was reduced to a charred stone shell on the evening of May 1, just hours after the Orthodox Easter celebration. While the church is collecting donations for reconstruction, the authorities are investigating the fenced-off site for the cause of the conflagration, while engineers keep an eye on the ruined building’s stability. The building is a New York City landmark and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Although the city’s laws protect the building from further demolition, the stone shell may be torn down if ultimately deemed dangerously unstable. Fortunately, the walls appear to be structurally sound for the time being, though serious reinforcement work would be permitted only after the investigations are complete.
The ongoing transformation of Long Island City is astounding. In the decade between 2006 and 2015, more than 8,600 housing units have been completed in the area, with well over 22,000 more on the way. Between 2012 and 2015, prices for prime development sites have jumped by 269 percent. As the neighborhood rapidly transitions from commercial/industrial to high-density residential, the local street grid, characterized by odd angles, must undergo a significant transformation. The city government began to address this need in 2010, when Jackson Avenue, the area’s principal thoroughfare, was upgraded with a green median, while a small triangular park was created at the intersection of 27th Street, Hunter Street, and 43rd Avenue.