Typical and Not

Part of the contextual work for One Vanderbilt (like the new LIRR entrance to Grand Central) was closing off the south end of Vanderbilt Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets, to vehicular traffic. It’s no great loss from a traffic perspective, as Vanderbilt is only five blocks long (created to ease traffic around the original Grand Central Depot in the 1870s), and the resulting little pedestrian plaza is a nice place to sit and take a photograph.

The picture above shows the view from the north end of the new plaza, up Vanderbilt looking north. We’ve got a nice selection of buildings, with Grand Central on the near right, the base of the Met Life (Pan Am / Stark Tower) Building past that, and then one of the low-rise side wings of the New York Central (Helmsley) Building. On the left we have the shiny stone veneer installed when the Biltmore Hotel was turned into an office building, then the Yale Club, the octagonal base of 383 Madison, and the Roosevelt Hotel. Way off in the distance is the very slender 432 Park Avenue; closer is the construction of the new 270 Park Ave. Overall, a nice mix of building ages and types.

The real oddity is that Vanderbilt ends in a T intersection, creating that side view of 270 Park. New York streets default to endless, with T intersection endings as a small minority. There were, for example, any number of ways that the background sets of the first Fantastic Beasts movie felt more like a European’s image of NYC than the real thing, one of which was the lack of very long through streets and the resulting presence of a lot of T intersections.

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