10.18.2011

OHNY Weekend, Part III: A Ballroom, A Penthouse, and the Streets Between

My final excursion on OHNY (openhousenewyork) weekend included two sites in the Financial District - an Art Deco ballroom on Broad Street and a contemporary luxury condo building on John Street. As my Sunday morning routine usually includes coffee, Battery Park, Trinity Church, and (now) Zuccotti Park, but hardly ever in the same order, I was already downtown and close by.

Broad Street
Broad Street, looking north. The Broad Street Ballroom is inside the building on the far right,
the Léman Manhattan Preparatory School. The New York Stock Exchange is in the distance
on the west side of the street.

• The Broad Street Ballroom is located just down the street from the New York Stock Exchange, right where the street takes a gentle bend. The investment bankers at Lee-Higginson built their headquarters here at 37-41 Broad Street in the late Jazz Age, 1928-29, to show off their financial power. The bank's lobby, now a ballroom frequently rented for private events, is decorated with fluted mosaic columns and a wraparound painted harbor scene by artist Griffith Baily Coale.

Broad Street Ballroom
Broad Street Ballroom

Broad Street Ballroom
Broad Street Ballroom

Broad Street Ballroom
Broad Street Ballroom

The building is currently home to Léman Manhattan Preparatory School, formerly the Claremont Preparatory School, and the old bank vault downstairs is now used as the kitchen for preparing the student meals. The heavy bank vault doors flank and separate the kitchen from the dining area, one that incidentally smells like all the other school cafeterias throughout the universe. Upstairs, the school's headmaster works in a dark-paneled power office, formerly the bank president's, complete with a secret wall panel that leads into an adjoining conference room. The bank president's private elevator, not renovated since the late 1920s, is apparently haunted, or so we were told.

For more information about the Broad Street Ballroom as a event and party space, see their website.

Wall Street
Wall Street, looking west. Trinity Church is in the distance.
By the way, see the traffic impediments in the foreground?
Those are on a rotating circular platform. If you are near this thing when it starts moving,
it will scare the bejeebus out of you.

Walking to the second venue on John Street involved negotiating passage around Wall Street, not so easy these days with the stepped-up security. Walking north on William Street, I also noticed that Jean Dubuffet's Groupe de Quatres Arbres is now behind barricades, because the sculpture is sited on Chase Plaza, a popular banking-themed destination for the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Dubuffet Behind Bars
Dubuffet Behind Bars at Chase Plaza

Reaching the 99 John Deco Lofts, I waited with several others in the lobby for our guided tour of the apartments, and once we were all assembled, we got on the elevator and rode to the three-level penthouse. The building itself is from 1933 and designed by Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, the architects of the Empire State Building. The 442 condo apartments here have been refurbished over the past few years. On the tour, we also viewed the building's shared outdoor garden space and the party rooms.

Upon arriving at the penthouse, most of us immediately headed to the terraces, for we often don't see these kind of views.

View from 99 John Deco Lofts Penthouse
It must be extra lofty to be able to look down on someone else's penthouse apartment.
The Municipal Building is in the background just left of center.

View from 99 John Deco Lofts Penthouse
The view also takes in Frank Gehry's 8 Spruce Street.

View from 99 John Deco Lofts Penthouse
Views to the east and north from one of the terraces include the bridges, the East River, and plenty of sky.
See the website for 99 John Deco Lofts for more information.

Website for openhousenewyork.


View WOTBA OHNY Weekend in a larger map

Read the previous posts on OHNY weekend:

OHNY Weekend, Part I: A Lobby and Two Libraries in Midtown

OHNY Weekend, Part II: Sacred Institutions of the Upper West Side

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Sunday, October 16, 2011.

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