Friday, March 15, 2019: the Ides of March and all that, if you lived in ancient Rome; 52 degrees here as I write this at midnight Thursday. It was in the 50 throughout the sunny day in New York. The weatherman is forecasting higher temperatures today and tomorrow. Six days till the first day of Spring.
I felt compelled to look up the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog day. Puxsu’s (or do they call him Phil?) presence on a sunny winter’s day (February 2nd) predicted six more weeks of winter. But then the clouds came in later in the week so we couldn’t be sure. Well, as of today it’s been five weeks since Feb 2 and considering those clouds that came a couple days later, maybe this is it. Hope so.
A week ago yesterday, New York mega-real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his new wife Patricia Olympia Landeau were married in Brooklyn at an event space, The Weylin, that was once the Brooklyn branch of the Williamsburg Savings Bank.
The great banks of our neighborhoods both here and yon used to be these architectural monuments to stability, security and solidity. That was then and now banks are right in there along with the supermarkets, a cheeseburger joint, and a Williams Sonoma.
If they didn’t have the sign up, you might even think they were fancy drugstores. So when all of this began to happen architecturally back in the late ‘70s, some wise entrepreneurs realized that the “space” inside these palaces of former fiduciary responsibility naturally had the space for Special Occasions, even big cocktail parties and even remarkable weddings.
I don’t know Mr. Macklowe although I’d heard of him many times, and I’ve met him to shake his hand. That moment was right after he was married to Ms. Landeau, and he was in fact a humble man to meet. He’s famous in New York (to this reader) for some of his buildings. He started a “fad” when he scuppered the New York skyline by building a 92-story business and residential tower at 432 Park Avenue at 56th Street.
Architecturally to this writer’s eye, the Empire State — which was the world’s tallest building when it opened in 1931 and until 432 went up — is a treasure to the eye of all of us humans born before 2000 or thereabouts. 432 Park does not carry that wonder to these eyes. However, it’s almost a century later, and time does that to everything and all of us. Whatever else Mr. Macklowe did by putting up that building at this time in our history, was to start a “fad” — my non-architectural word for the building boom of these taller than tall slim towers. There are about five of them now.
However, I digress – Harry Macklowe can do that do you. He also built the tower at 59th and Fifth which for a number of years was owned by our President and bore his name on the front. Among his other acquisitions that I know of was a large rental luxury apartment building on the Upper East Side. His intent, like so many of these guys, was to get rid of the renters — many of whom were living in rent stabilized, very classy and roomy apartments — and renovate the building and turn it into expensive condos.
I know about this because a friend of mine, a woman of the age that Mr. Macklowe is now, had been living there in a spacious six or seven room apartment for decades at a rental under $2000 a month. When the Macklowe’s office contacted her about buying out her lease, she contacted the man himself and explained her situation, which was: too old to move. And so, having heard her request, Mr. M excluded her from the program and kept her at her original rent. A decade has passed and my friend, now in her tenth decade, is in comfortable and relief state of mind in her original apartment. Thanks to last week’s bridegroom.
Last Thursday was quite a day as you may have already read in numerous papers about this May-December merger. I think they’ve met the middle: June, which is busting out all over for the man — if you attended either the wedding or the reception on the 78th floor of 432 Park Avenue last Thursday. Because the bridegroom is such a well known figure in New York to New Yorkers, and because the grand finale of his previous six decade marriage was a harsh contest all reported in the papers, this new marriage has taken on the image of a kind of regeneration of a man. Who could ask for anything more?
We weren’t at the beautiful David Monn designed affair at 432 Park but we heard all about it. It was a festivity for the 200 guests — a party of well-wishers, many of whom are among the moguls of New York real estate. With music by the Gypsy Queens to keep up the spirit of evening. It was a moment no one wanted to miss, also. Everyone’s a journalist when it comes to other people’s lives.
As you can see, the bridegroom could not conceal his delight, and the bride herself wears the aura of a caring, gentle, grounded individual.
Jean-Pierre Uys Photography (Macklowe).