Sunday, November 16, 2008

McKim, Mead and White: Titans of their time

One of my favorite architecture firms of all time is the partnership of Charles McKim, William Mead and Stanford White. Their stoic, grandeoise beaux arts buildings rise up to the skies as impressive granite titans of the turn of the 20th century.
Buildings they are responsible for include Penn Station (pictured above, RIP), Manhattan Municipal Building, the original Madison Square Garden, the University Club on 5th ave, and the north & south wings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tragically, their greatest work of art, Pennsylvania Station, was torn down in the mid-60's leaving behind a hideous underground transit hub.

One of the things I find most fascinating is the story of
Stanford White. He was a self-indulgent, sex-obsessed playboy that, behind the back of his wife, threw scandalous parties with scantily clad women and lavish entertainment. He had a red velvet swing hanging from the golden rafters of his audacious tower apartment, from which he would swing his nubile girls to his ravenous delight.

One of those girls, vaudeville actress Evelyn Nesbit, cost him his life as her husband shot White in the face at close range in the Madison Square Garden restaurant of his own design.
Below: the beautiful Nesbit

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