Saturday, December 8, 2007
Today Mark and I are zipping into the city for some bakery goods, then zipping out to New Jersey to see his brother's family. Tis the season for getting together. I'll have to post about my first date with Mark later.
I was near 42nd Street the other day and took a picture of the Chrysler Building, above. I was reminded of a talk I gave, many years back at a public school in Chinatown. It was Career Day, and I was going to speak about architecture and one of my favorite streets in the city.
I had all these slides with me to show the kids a virtual walking tour of 42nd Street. It began with the transformation of Times Square and how an old movie theater had been lifted off its foundation and moved. I had photos of the aqua green terra cotta tiles covering the McGraw Hill Building. There was Bryant Park, littered with green folding chairs and people sunning themselves.
I had images of the grand Neo-Classical presence of the New York Public Library, the raised street at Pershing Square, dotted with streetlamps and the swelter of commuters in and out of Grand Central. Finally, Chrylser Building ended the tour, a soaring Art Deco monument in stainless steel. It had briefly been the tallest building in the world, before being eclipsed by the Empire State Building.
Unfortunately, the slide projector was broken (ack!). The thought of giving the tour without visuals seemed absolutely lame. So I broke out a roll of drawings I'd brought to show the kids what architects did (ie; toil for hours over drawings of things for superbly wealthy people).
A flurry of 8th and 9th graders swarmed around me. They were mesmerized by the three-car garage, the housekeeper's apartment, his and her dressing rooms, and the assortment of rooms that might all mean the same thing - Family room, Living Room, Library, Den, Game Room. These were kids who grew up in apartments, and they were a astounded that such over-the-top homes were possible.
Of course, none of them wanted to be me (sad, because this had been the point of Career Day). They all wanted to be the client, the guy with the big bucks. Big Bucks had gotten his money from owning a chain of drug stores. The kids didn't ask about his profession, and I didn't let on.
When the last student left, their teacher turned to me and shook my hand. 'I always wanted to be an architect', he said. It's something I've been told many times.
I gathered my things and left the classroom, toting the heavy roll of blueprints and box of unused slides. All in all, it had been a good day.
Photo by myself of the Chrysler Buliding.