29 W 57th Street. The undated photograph on the left shows the original ornamentation, while the photograph on the right (taken March 26th, 2014) shows significant damage to the medals and sculptural figures.
After learning of the growing preservation movement to landmark 29, 31, and 33 West 57th Street, Vornado Realty instructed their contractors to preemptively destroy the iconic caryatids and Légion d’Honneur medals on 29 West 57th Street in a transparent attempt to sabotage the landmark evaluation process.
Preemptive demolition is a common tactic among sleazy real estate developers. A similar fate befell the famed Dakota Stables when developers gained wind the Landmarks Preservation Commission was considering voting to declare the property an individual landmark.
29 W 57th street was built in 1924 for the American Piano Company and designed by the renowned architectural firm, Cross & Cross. It is a superlative work of New York architecture, a richly ornamented tall building that fuses Gothic and Art Deco, exemplified by the gilded sculptural ornamentation on the building’s exterior. The Cross of the Legion d’honneur appears on each side of the building’s water tower, referring to the award Napoleon III awarded Chickering & Sons for their pianos at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. The cloaked personifications, pipers above the twelfth floor setbacks and lyre players on the penthouse, are remarkable early examples of proto-Art Deco style. The Gothic elements show the influence of Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Tower (1913).
Vornado has made it clear they do not value great architecture or our city’s vibrant past. In destroying these Art Deco treasures, Vornado has not only spat in the face of the Landmarks Law but also the very of spirit of American democracy.
We would like to encourage everyone appalled by this flagrant act of vandalism to write to Vornado and let them know destroying great art is unacceptable:
David R. Greenbaum
Vornado, President of New York Offices
Vornado, Director of Leasing,
212 894 7419