NYC: Salmon Tower Building (11 W. 42nd Street)
The 31-story Salmon Tower Building was designed by Albert J. Wilcox and completed in 1928. The builder was Walter J. Salmon, Sr., an important NYC real estate developer who also built 500 Fifth Avenue next door.
From the street, this relatively unremarkable building has one outstanding feature, a most remarkable two-story, arched limestone entrance with six carvings on either side of the arch, representing the twelve signs of the zodiac. Carved under each sign is the appropriate month.
The Romanesque archway has a carved zigzag pattern - very eleventh century! - and whimsical animals are carved at the top of the straight sections.
As a bonus, there are fifteen carved figures across the top of the entrance - nine classical male figures, four classical female figures, and two dogs. Many of the figures seem to represent occupations. I can see a man holding a t-square in one hand and a dividers in the other. Next to him is another man carrying a curved-neck flash, perhaps representing chemistry. Next is a kneeling female typing on what surely is the latest thing in 1928 typewriters, apparently taking dictation from the fellow standing next to her. Further on, there's a guy with a trowel, maybe a bricklayer? Right of center is a chap holding what looks like a rolled-up blueprint standing next to another guy holding a large gear, with a young woman kneeling between them, writing notes on a scroll. An elegant lady all the way on the right is handing two large, heavy books to the gentleman next to her. Mind you, all these characters are clothed in classical Roman garb.
Besides the charm of the entrance, this building has an attractive an ornate lobby. Click here, and then click on "view gallery" at the bottom right corner of the photo near the top of that web page.
I recently gave a presentation to the International Photography Society of IMF-World Bank in Washington D.C. called "NYCityscapes" about photographing in New York City. The presentation was well received, and the group asked some very good questions afterwards. Knowing that I often tread the same paths on my NYC photo workshops, one member asked about photographing the same area over and over again. I loved the question and replied that I always seem to find either a new way to photograph the same thing or a new thing that I hadn't really "seen" before. The photo of the Salmon Building Tower entrance is a great example of that. It's on the block of W. 42nd Street directly opposite Bryant Park, so I'm there all the time. I've often photographed it's neighbors, the HBO Building, the Grace Building, and 500 Fifth. But until early this month, I had never really noticed the imposing entrance of 11 West, with its elaborate relief carvings.
Who knows what I'll find next time?