Shinn

He was the most naturally gifted of The Eight, and his vigorous, uninhibited vision of city life transformed American painting at the turn of the century. In fact, he may have been too gifted.

Never at an art exhibition in this city has there been such an attendance,” the young painter Guy Pène du Bois reported in the New York American for February 4, 1908, adding that “only with the greatest difficulty, by stretching of necks, crowding and other strenuous methods, were spectators enabled to see the paintings.” All that week and the next, despite a snowstorm followed by days of slush, the curious continued to crowd into the Macbeth Galleries’ two 16 x 20 foot rooms on an upstairs floor of 450 Fifth Avenue.Read more »

Saving The Statue

After standing in New York Harbor for nearly one hundred years, this thin-skinned but sturdy lady needs a lot of attention. She’s getting it- from a crack team of French and American architects and engineers.

AT A TABLE IN a cozy Chinese restaurant on the Left Bank of Paris, half a dozen men argue loudly about the Statue of Liberty. Several argue in French, several argue in English, and one argues in both languages while attempting simultaneous translation of everyone else’s remarks. The question at issue: Why wasn’t the statue built the way Gustave Eiffel designed it? Read more »

Sporting Glass

The largest Gothic cathedral in the Western Hemisphere has the strangest stained-glass windows in the world

TO A CASUAL OBSERVER , the first window on the north face of New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine looks as traditional and reverent as stainedglass windows the world over. But viewed up close, the fourteen thousand pieces of glass reveal scenes of baseball, fishing, and golf—almost as if to remind worshipers of the fun they might be having if they weren’t in church. Much of the credit for the window’s unconventional design belongs to Elizabeth Manning, daughter of William T. Manning, Bishop of New York from 1921 to 1946.Read more »

The Suburbs

Today more Americans live in them than in city and country combined. How did we get there?

ABOUT SUBURBS, ONLY COMMUTERS know for sure. For single-family houses, lawns, off-street parking, and gardens they endure harrowing round trips by train, bus, and automobile, certain that life in the suburbs amply repays the time and money lost in transit. And they endure the smug jibes of residents of city and country, jibes as old as commuting.Read more »

Bravo Caruso!

The great tenor came to America in 1903, and it was love at first sight—a love that survived an earthquake and some trouble with the police about a woman at the zoo

WHEN, ON COLUMBUS DAY OF 1980 , the operatic superstar, Luciano Pavarotti, sitting on a bay horse, his massive bulk arrayed in fancy dress, jounced up New York’s Fifth Avenue at the head of the annual parade celebrating the discovery of America, some elitist opera patrons were dismayed. A primo tenore , they believed, should stand aloof from the common run, should maintain an inaccessibility, a certain mystery.Read more »

The President’s Best Friend

If he’d been the closest companion of the president of IBM, you might happen across his name in a privately printed memoir. But LeMoyne Billings was John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s best friend from Choate to the White House—and that makes him part of history.

CROATE, 1935 Read more »

Whistling Women

How a young New York society matron named Alice Shaw dazzled English royalty with her extraordinary embouchure

Whistling women and crowing hens Always come to some bad ends. —American folk-saying Read more »

Celebrities

The sad story of a magazine born eighty years too soon

Some time ago a man lit on a publishing idea that seemed obvious enough but apparently had never been tried before: since people are most interested in the doings of famous people, why not devote a magazine to just that? And, for good measure, have it well illustrated? And so the new publication appeared—in 1895. Read more »

American Characters

AMERICAN CHARACTERS

Lincoln Steffens was a young reporter for the Commercial Advertiser during the late 1890’s, and he always remembered it as a grand time for a New York City newspaperman: “There was the Cuban war, the Boer war, and best of all—Tammany was back in power.” Tammany Hall, “which has voters but no friends,” had just had its hold on City Hall briefly shaken by a reform administration; now, “hungry and irritated,” it was back in business, “providing us with a world of public enemies to hate and unconcealed schemes to expose.” AndRead more »

Angel In The Parlor: The Art Of Abbott Thayer

He loved women so much he painted wings on them. After years of neglect, he is now being appreciated.

VISITORS TO a performance by the Kneisel String Quartet in New York City one autumn afternoon in 1894 may well have been distracted from the sonorities of Beethoven by a strangely dressed man in the audience. In contrast to the stylish appearance of the rest of the music lovers, he wore a rumpled corduroy hunting suit, a battered felt hat, rubber boots, and a frayed handkerchief wound round his head and tied under his chin, as if to relieve a toothache.Read more »