Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mayfair Revealed

As reported back in March, the former Loews Mayfair building in Times Square is coming down, to be replaced by an $800 million hotel wrapped in a giant television screen. Vanishing with the building will be its many architectural artifacts, visible inside the souvenir shop that recently closed at the site.


All photos: Aylon Samson

Now, photographer Aylon Samson lets us know that the big billboards that have covered the face of the building for probably the past 20 years have been removed--revealing the lovely architectural details of Mayfair's facade.



Long hidden, out come the faces of lions and ladies that have framed dusty windows in darkness for decades. These details date back to 1909, when the building was constructed and originally housed the Columbia burlesque and vaudeville theater.

In the late 1920s, the theater was sold and redesigned by architect Thomas W. Lamb, king of the movie palace. This must have been when the facade above the marquee was also made over -- to include tall bamboo-like shoots forming green and orange glazed terracotta pilasters. In between them climbs a wild filigree of scallops and fruited bounties.



Here and there, in a repeating pattern, a man's face and partial torso appears. Looking down, with a prominent aquiline nose, he looks like he's meant to be a Native American. He's shirtless, with a band of leather tied around his muscular bicep, and he's holding what appears to be a bowl. Perhaps some sort of offering to the gods of Hollywood?


enlarged detail

Soon, all these wonderful faces and features will be destroyed. All that history and symbolism. Turned to ruin and dust. And for what? More of the same soulless shimmer we've come to expect in the new New York. Nothing that will last. Nothing that will stir the spirit. Just pixels on top of pixels on top of pixels.




Previously:
Loews Mayfair Building
See the building's artifacts
Between 47th and 48th

15 comments:

Josh Alan Friedman said...

Another foul and repulsive demolition of our history.

Neil J Murphy said...

With luck, perhaps, some of this will wind up at the Brooklyn Museum.

Anonymous said...

This kind of thing gets me so freaking angry. I hate when structures like this are destroyed instead of preserved. Oh well..just another day at the office these days in the city. Underappreciated history, underappreciateed buildings. I don't think people even come to New York for history anymore, it's a just a feeding trough for out of control consumerism. Speaks volumes about the culture at large. Sad, sad, sad. Just really sad. Bunch of zombies staring at their smart phones.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some hi res photos of the facade could be taken and periodically be projected on the giant screens of the new structure... the ghost in the machine...
-e-

Gojira said...

The heartbreak never ends. And it never gets less painful.

Goggla said...

I can only hope someone salvages these architectural jewels and does something with them. Even lining the walls of some of the community gardens with these decorations would keep them on public display.

Anonymous said...

I live in Knoxville TN and for years they tore down beautiful old buildings calling it "progress" but thankfully we got a mayor in who appreciated these georgeous old buildings and putblaws in place to prevent us from loosing any more of them. If you get a chance google Tennessee Theater. Its a beautiful old movie house built in the 20s and sat empty for years. It was almost torn down in the 80s for a parking lot. It was saved at the last minute and renovated and now is one of the most popular venues in Knoxville for concerts, etc.

historyglass said...

Oh they will be salvaged then sold back to the 1% for tens of thousands of dollars, after all their sterile modernism need a little piece of authenticity that comes with the swipe of a black American Express card on Franklin Street.

http://www.urbanarchaeology.com/salvage/All.html

Anonymous said...

One factor in all this: Bloomberg. He is so pro-development it has changed the face of the city. This will be his true legacy, how he will ultimately be remembered: as the destroyer of our urban architectural legacy, at the behest of quick profit.

He's trying now to ram through, before he leaves office, the destruction of a whole neighborhood of historic office buildings around Grand Central. This would be a disaster, but who can stand in their way?

brooklyn photographer said...

Well the recent trends in New York seems to be creating a real havoc in the city with the resulting n the destruction of historical monuments which are the tourism resources of the country. With an increase in commercial luxurious hotels these would definitely create a havoc in the city. There seems to be an ever increase in demand for housing for student interns in NYC.

stephcor said...

The rezoning around Grand Central has been withdrawn due to lack of support from the City Council and mayor-elect DiBlasio.

Ken Mac said...

Beautiful find. let's all enjoy it while we can.

Brendan said...

Yep, and Quinn led the opposition to the rezoning. People (including me) didn't give her credit for it in the heat of the primary, but she's better than Bloomberg in a couple significant ways.

Ken Mac said...

And I wish the city would ban these giant electronic billboards. The goal is obviously to recreate the "excitement" of Times Square at every crosswalk from Herald Sq to Union Sq. Never mind that the scale of these signs is too mammoth for the surrounding area. Better to dwarf all humans under the blight of commercialism.

sinestra said...

I really hope these gems get salvaged and repurposed. It is so sad that the powers that be don't see that people, even tourist people, love the history of NYC- look at the Avalon- they cannot keep a retail tenant whatsoever but the developer class keep making these boring lifeless and cold structures regardless, ramming them down our throats until we concede defeat to the "progress" of 800 foot flashing screens at every turn, jarring the mind and assaulting the eye with blatant consumerism.