E. 42nd Street: No Bowery Bums Here!
If this photo reminds you of yesterday's post, there's a good reason: The Bowery Savings Bank Building at 110 E. 42nd Street was designed by the same distinguished architectural firm of York & Sawyer, and at about the same time (1923,) as was the Pershing Square Building next door.
At 18 stories, this building is not terribly noted for its height; the main attraction is the monumental banking room, four stories high, with its sixty-foot ceiling. The photo here of the main entrance to the banking room shows only the top of the spectacular arched entrance - keep in mind that what we're seeing here is already above the level of the street lamps.
The entrance is inspired by similar designs from the Italian Romanesque period, in particular the Baptistry at Parma, Italy (1196-1307.) In the words of the 1996 report of the Landmark Preservation Commission, by it's choice of architectural style and scale, "York & Sawyer was able to dramatize the act of savings as a ritual and to present their savings bank buildings as appropriate sanctuaries for the practice of this ritual."
That's quite a difference from stopping by your local MegaBank, housed by a building that often indistinguishable from that used by a real estate agent or a mattress store.
The great banking hall interior is even more magnificent than the facade, but it is now occuppied by a high-end catering firm, and not typically available for public view. But take a look at this panorama on the New York Times website (hat-tip to Dino Marcantonio, I found the link on his blog as part of his excellent post on this building.)