Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Land of Oz

Looking east from inside the Time Warner Center. Photo: JH.
Thursday, October 29, 2015. Raining in New York, just like the weatherman said it would. Started lightly in the morning and got heavier mid-afternoon. A little chilly; just a little. And wet. Autumn. The colors in the Park were brilliant in this light and air. We don’t get the foliage they get north of us, farther north into New England. But these photos I took on my way home from Michael’s a little after three o’clock yesterday afternoon, show you how serenely dramatic our foliage is.
Central Park yesterday afternoon with a brief let-up in the rain which seemed to have brought out more colors in the foliage. Looking east toward Fifth Avenue in the 60s.
Roadways were less brilliant, though wet. The city’s roads have been converted (by plan, no less) into one giant detour sign where traffic is very often in gridlock. Except you can’t detour, you have to go into it. Fewer lanes, all kinds of driving directions printed on the roads, blocks closed into “parks,” and construction blocking lanes seemingly all over the city. I keep telling myself it’s only where I live. Then I go to midtown. Or across town. Anyway, if you’re a regular reader you’ve read my bitching about it more than once or thrice.

However, while it is “blamed” on the number of motor vehicles in the city at any given time, the space for these vehicles has been lessened in some cases by 50% of road space; four or five lanes reduced to two or three. Everything is just more difficult in terms of moving around this great city of commerce. I tell myself: worry not, everything changes, and so will this.
And while we’re on the subject of this great city. Tuesday afternoon Duane Hampton was at a lunch at the top of the Crowne Building which occupies the southwest corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. And the views were too fabulous not to photograph. The best one for me is that view of a slice of the Park.
Duane’s view looking east from Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. The tallest tower on the left side of the street is the Four Seasons Hotel between Park and Madison Avenues. In the distance, the tower with the spire is the Ritz Tower on Park and 57th, and the all-glass, dark structure is the IBM building on the southwest corner of 57th and Madison.
Looking north, with Bergdorf-Goodman on the left, the Sherry-Netherland on the far right, and the east side of the Park running up Fifth Avenue to 110th Street.
And to the west along 57th toward Seventh Avenue is the new 90-story condominium — the tallest tower which looks as if it is rising above the land of Oz — 157 West 57th Street luxury condominiums, completed in 2013. Looking like the baby brothers to the right of 157 is the Time Warner towers on Columbus Circle.
The Michael’s Wednesday lunch. At Table One. Mickey Ateyeh hosted: Angela Cummings, Jeffrey Banks, Cynthia Lewis, Stan Herman, Fern Mallis, Nicholas Varney, Simon Alcantara. At the table next to them: Greg Kelly of Fox’ Good Day New York with Andrew Stein.  Around the room: Neil Lasher of EMI Publishing, Jack Kliger; John Grisham (yes, that John Grisham) sharing lunch with two members of Doubleday; Jacqui Lividini; Larry Spangler with Marshall Brickman; Jon Steinberg of MailOnline; Rosanna Scotto (Greg Kelly’s partner on Fox’ Good Day New York) with Jill Brooke and Maury Rogoff; Nikki Haskell; Luke Janklow; Hank Ratner, Vice-Chair of Madison Square Garden and Cablevision; Steven Rubenstein; Bob Towbin; Matt Blank, president of Showtime; Laurie Dhue; Dawn Bridges; Robert Halmi with Campbell Scott, Anthony Cenname of the WSJ; ; Alexandre Chemla; Frank DiGiacomo of Billboard Magazine with Joel Levy; Charles Schueler, Exec VIP of Cablevision; Bernard Schwartz; Judy Twersky, Robert Blumenfeld, mediabistro’s Diane Clehane with Alexandra Carlin and Eliot Kaplan of Hearst; Francine LeFrak; Audrey Gruss with Jay McInerney; Kardashian confidant, Jonathan Cheban; David Corvo of NBC’s Dateline; Michael Gross with Ann Magnin. I was lunching with Ambassador John Loeb.

More catching up:
Last Tuesday, a week, the  FIAF Young Patrons Group hosted a private Fall Recital and reception at the French Consulate. This is one of those special New York evenings that are often available to the public as well as the private for they are designed for the personal enjoyment of matters artistic and cultural.
Bertrand Lortholary, Consul General of France.
Marie-Monique Steckel.
Kim Siwoo and Andrea Casarrubios.
In this event, the evening took place in the French Consulate at 934 Fifth Avenue (between 74th and 75th Street) with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres followed by the performance of Ensemble ACJW – which is a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. Among the guests, Stephanie and Jesse Newhouse, Dylan Lauren, James Zankel, Veronica Bulgari, Clemence Von Mueffling, who is the FIAF Young Patrons Chair, James Brooks, French Consulate Event Chair.
Radhika Gupte and Sai Debabhaktuni. Charlotte Havemeyer and Eiseley Tauganas.
Stephan Haimo and Angelique Domont.
John Lamarca, Jeff Stevens, James G. Brooks Jr., Michael Goefron, and Jo Ben-Atar.
Eric Rall and Missy Meeks.
Jason Phillips, Jordan Phillips, and Celine Mazieres.
Gary Thomas, Elissa Morano, James Russo, and friends.
James G. Brooks Jr., Stephanie Newhouse, Jessie Newhouse, and Fred Havemeyer.
The French Consulate at 934 Fifth is a New York Landmark. Completed in 1926 after a year of construction. The five story, 45-foot wide Italian Renaissance palazzo was designed by Walker & Gillette for Wall Street banker Charles Mitchell who was President of the National City Bank (now Citicorp).

The Hoyt Mansion at 934 Fifth in 1920.
Charles Mitchell demolished the Hoyt mansion and replaced it with the handsome limestone mansion that still stands today, and which serves as the Consulate General of France.
The lot was originally occupied by a house designed by Stanford White for a banker and businessman of the late 19th and early 20th century, Alfred Hoyt, in 1883. Charles Mitchell, who had been living at 933 Fifth, the mansion next door that he rented from Lamar Harkness, wanted his own. He was at that time in his career, one of the most important and influential bankers in the 1920s. 

After the crash of the stock market on October 29, 1932, Mitchell’s fortunes took a dark turn. The Government began investigating his banking activities. He became a focal point for blame in the financial wreckage that the Crash had wrought.

Three and a half years after the Great Crash, on March 21, 1933, at 9 p.m. the Feds came to the door answered by Mr. Mitchell who was in black tie. He had been investigated for illegal stock trades and speculating with his bank’s own securities. He was arrested, handcuffed and taken in, accused of income tax evasion of $657,152.40 (about $12 million in today’s currency) on an income in 1929 of $2.9 million (about $30 million in today’s). Following his indictment, Mitchell resigned his post at National City. A week later, he took out half million dollar mortgages on 934 as well as his mansion in Tuxedo Park, and a $150,000 mortgage on his Southampton oceanfront estate.

Three months later – in June, after a six-week trial in which Mitchell lost 24 pounds, he was acquitted. The acquittal surprised many, and it was believed, according to the New York Times dispatch, that it was “not regarded as likely in Wall Street that he would return to National City Bank.”

There were further legal repercussions for the disgraced banker, and in 1936 the US Government put a lien on the house. The family remained, however, for another three years but then vacated the mansion which stood unoccupied until 1942 when the French Government purchased it for $500,000 – the original cost of the house. The Mitchells sold the house with its contents which are still used to this day. When they were in residence, Mrs. Mitchell, a great lover of music, often entertained and provided private concerts for her guests.

Photographs by BFA (FIAF)

Contact DPC here.