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Give Our Regards to Broadway – VIEW VIRTUAL TOUR

New York has always been a walking City. Thanks to the cultural and recreational limits of the past few months, many of us are walking more than ever. It’s been our exercise, release from confinement, and reminder that people still exist outside of Zoom.

So, we were delighted when our friends at the Monacelli Press asked us to host a talk about “Walking Broadway,” a new book that takes a thirteen-mile architectural tour up one of the most famous streets in the world.


Author William Hennessey started exploring Broadway as a teenager. After years away as a professor and museum director, he moved back to New York and continued his early fascination.

The Conservancy’s office is located near Bowling Green, where Broadway begins. The book details Cass Gilbert’s fabulous former Custom House facing the Green, and the great transatlantic shipping offices that once lined its west side. But I decided to see what I could learn about the stretch of Broadway I’m on most frequently…70th to 96th streets.

Hennessey’s writing is often wonderfully descriptive. The massive, mansard topped Dorilton at 71st Street for instance is “Parisian Second Empire on steroids.” It hadn’t occurred to me that Heins and LaFarge were creating a style for a new type of building in 1904 when they designed the subway kiosk at 72nd Street. The author calls it a “Netherlandish confection.” The entrance echoes a traditional church façade complete with a high-central nave. No wonder I’m often praying that I get down the stairs in time to make the train.

I’d forgotten that the Astor family owned lots of land up here and built the Apthorp Apartments at 79th, “the block-filling Renaissance palazzo.” And I didn’t realize that this stretch of Broadway was lined with movie and vaudeville palaces. You can still see theatrical masks on the façade of a commercial building at 81st that once housed a theater designed by Thomas Lamb.

The book takes interesting detours onto side streets, including the richly detailed Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church on West 82nd Street. It’s usually open, and I love stopping in to see the “dramatic and mysterious” interior that echoes the Hagia Sophia.


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