Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Park Avenue

1133 Park Avenue (photo Jim Henderson)

Prewar Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue buildings, with their uniformed doormen and granite facades, have a dynastic quality. Fifth Avenue buildings are particularly auspicious. Jackie Kennedy and Rupert Murdoch both had Fifth Avenue residences. But the Park Avenue coops facing each other over the landscaped islands, (under Metro North tracks) which separate the up and downtown traffic and all converging on the old Helmsley Tower which fronts the Viaduct running around Grand Central to the statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt comprise a legend, using both meanings of the word, myth and something which can be read. 1l33, where J.D. Salinger grew up, was the model for the Glass family residence in Franny and Zooey. Park Avenue is an imperturbable display of wealth, but it's also like a vertical Newport and East Hampton with one mansion (or plantation) piled on the next and each one evidencing its own family tree and storyline (odd Netflix doesn't feature a series entitled, "Park Avenue"). If you wanted to take a punch at capitalism in the form of the leaders of Fortune 500 companies, you’d only have to strafe these fortresses of the ruling class. But there's wealth, social capital, conspicuous ostentation and reserve. 1185 Park Avenue, for instance, distinguishes itself as a kind of gated community, with its grand driveway leading into a rotunda of separate edifices. Then there are buildings like 720 which house the ultra ultra rich and contain elite amenities like squash courts for those who don’t want to bother with the trip down to the exclusive Racquet Club at 370, a bastion of an era when WASPs were the ruling insect.

Read "The Wealth of People" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "This Magic Moment" by The Drifters

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