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?
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.
Loews Mayfair Building
See the building's artifacts
Between 47th and 48th