Architectural notes

Today’s Zippy:


cornice, soffit, fascia, frieze board, dentil — technical terms of architecture that get Zippy off (so much so that he uses soffit, fascia, frieze board as a mantra).

(“Mr. Soffit” is presumably a play on the ice cream name “Mr.Softee”; Zippy cartoon titles often have to do with purely phonological associations.)

On to the Ansonia. Architecture at three levels of detail:


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Gorgeous, if you’re into ornamentation.

A small part of the Ansonia’s astonishing story, from Wikipedia:

The Ansonia is a building on the Upper West Side of New York City, located at 2109 Broadway, between West 73rd and West 74th Streets. It was originally built as a hotel by William Earle Dodge Stokes, the Phelps-Dodge copper heir and share holder in the Ansonia Clock Company, and it was named for his grandfather, the industrialist Anson Greene Phelps. In 1899, Stokes commissioned architect Paul E. Duboy (1857–1907) to build the grandest hotel in Manhattan.

… The Ansonia was a residential hotel. The residents lived in luxurious apartments with multiple bedrooms, parlors, libraries, and formal dining rooms that were often round or oval. Apartments featured sweeping views north and south along Broadway, high ceilings, elegant moldings, and bay windows. The Ansonia also had a few small units, one bedroom, parlor and bath; these lacked kitchens. There was a central kitchen and serving kitchens on every floor, so that the residents could enjoy the services of professional chefs while dining in their own apartments. Besides the usual array of tearooms, restaurants, and a grand ballroom, the Ansonia had Turkish baths and a lobby fountain with live seals.

Erected between 1899 and 1904, it was the first air-conditioned hotel in New York. The building has an eighteen-story steel-frame structure. Upon its completion in 1904 The Ansonia was the largest residential hotel of its day. The exterior is decorated in the Beaux-Art style with a Parisian style mansard roof. Striking architectural features are the round corner-towers or turrets. Unusual for a Manhattan building, the Ansonia features an open stairwell that sweeps up to a huge domed skylight. The interior corridors may be the widest in the city. For several years Stokes kept farm animals on the building’s roof next to his personal apartment. Another unusual feature of the building is its cattle elevator, which enabled dairy cows to be stabled on the roof.

The building’s original, elaborate copper cornices were removed during World War II and melted down for the war effort.

… From 1977 until 1980, The Ansonia Hotel’s basement was home to Plato’s Retreat, an open door swinger sex club. In 1980, the then Mayor Ed Koch shut the club down due to health concerns for public safety. Prior to Plato’s Retreat, the building housed the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse where Bette Midler provided musical entertainment early in her career [with Barry Manilow as her accompanist].

… In 1992 the Ansonia was converted to a condominium apartment building with 430 apartments.

I knew the Ansonia from the Continental Baths days. Oh my.

One Response to “Architectural notes”

  1. John Says:

    So, is Zippy going to be a gargoyle — ready to spit — or the dry-mouthed grotesque?

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