Friday, December 28, 2007

PODCAST: New Years Eve at One Times Square

The Times Square New Years Eve celebration would not be the same without One Times Square and its annual ball drop. But the quirky history of this sometimes abused building reaches all the way back to the naming of Times Square and its original tenent -- the New York Times.

Download this show it for FREE on iTunes or other podcasting services. Click this link to download it directly from our satellite site. Or click below to listen here:

The Bowery Boys: One Times Square

One Times Square, back in better days

The crowds of Times Square

The Nissin Cup of Noodles sign

Here's what the last ball looked like:

Gothamist tracks the journey of the number 8 from this year's 2008 New Years Eve ceremony

Pic-Tina Fineberg/AP

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Have a great New York holiday!

We'll return with a new podcast and new blog entries next week. Happy holidays!

By popular demand, here's some pics from this years Dyker Height's extravaganza. Photos courtesy of Kari Hoerchler.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New York 'Nutcracker' dances on

Above: a still from the original version of Balanchine's show (photo from the New York Public Library

Being as I was once a boy, nothing about Christmas bored me less than watching a bunch of girls get excited when the Nutcracker came on television. Its taken my deep appreciation of New York -- and some knowledge of George Balanchine -- to finally understand its long lasting appeal.

Leon Barzin founded the New York City Ballet (then the Ballet Society) in 1933 with Balanchine as head choreographer; Balanchine pretty much is the New York City Ballet, the spirit of it anyway. A Russian born dancer with the Ballet Russes, Balanchine had performed a version of the Nutcracker in Russia. However it was never seriously considered any kind of 'holiday classic' until he revised the ballet himself in 1954. Balletmet has a breakdown of his specific changes, although the key to his particular version? Having actual children in the lead roles -- cast in '54 from the School of American Ballet -- their steps considerably revised.

What had been a rather obscure and even antiquated fairy tale of mice and wooden men, energized by the music of Tchaikovsky, now became a mainstream hit with audiences. However, despite being Christmas themed, its first performance was on February 2, 1954. According to Edward Bigelow , who was assistant manager with the ballet in 1954, "In those days we generally shared the City Center with New York City Opera. They had first call on when they wanted to perform, and we inherited the slow period around Christmastime, when you could typically hear echoes in the theater." The Nutcracker essentially became a holiday classic because of scheduling issue!

The New York Ballet has performed the Nutcracker every year since 1954, and two televised versions during the holidays spread the word outside of the city. There was even a crappy Macauley Culkin film, however I would avoid that. The live version currently runs through the end of the month.

Although there are several variations now to the ballet, most people are familiar with the Balanchine one, to the extent that it's often referred to as Balanchine's Nutcracker.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fifth Avenue's Unidentified Flying Ornament

One of Manhattan's newest holiday traditions concerns that rather exotic looking snowflake hanging with a seeming precariousness 80 feet above the intersection of 57th and 5th Avenue, a crystalline piece of festivity greeting big spenders on their way into Tiffany's, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton.

This delicate knickknack is actually a bit of a linebacker. At 3,300 lbs (a small elephant) and 23 feet in diameter, its twelve stainless-steel snowflake branches sparkle with 12,000 Baccarat crystals and over 400 small lighting effects to create a truly otherworldly -- some would say even alien -- presence on Manhattan's richest shopping avenue. I'm sorry, that's HUGE.

Here's what it looks like indoors and hung in a dramatic fashion:

What I didn't realize is that Fifth Avenue has had a gigantic snowflake hovering above it during the holidays as far back as 1984. (See picture below.) Back then it was a slightly smaller model of steel and tinsel and pockmarked with hundreds of 11 watt light bulbs. It was designed by Douglas Leigh, a man midtown Manhattan could never have done without.

Leigh, an old-school showman, was a virtuoso at outdoor lighting display, changing Times Square forever with such living advertisements as the smoking Camel cigarette ad, a Pepsi-Cola waterfall, and a bubbling Super Suds detergent ad spraying suds into the air. He's responsible for the elaborate Wrigley's Gum advertisement at Bond's Clothing store, later Bond's International Casino. In 1976 he designed mechanisms to light up the Empire State Building each night, for the first time in full color, and topped other buildings like the Waldorf-Astoria and the Citicorp buildings. Leigh died at age 92 in 1999.

By 2002, his sad snowflake had fallen behind the times. So a new street ornament was prepared, this time called the 'UNIcef Snowflake' to benefit the United Nations Children's Fund. The current creation is designed by renown lighting artist Ingo Maurer. Its very lighting every season brings out celebrities, a miniature version of the Christmas lighting just down the street. This past year's celebration brought out Clay Aiken to switch on the glowing street flake.

And to get the image of Clay Aiken out of your mind, here's one of Leigh's best known creations:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dyker Heights outdoes the Griswolds

For eleven months out of the year, Dyker Heights is a quiet, unassuming section of Brooklyn, far from the blazing electicity of Manhattan. But every December, it threatens to create its own Times Square in lights.

The "Dyker Lights" has become the unofficial center of Brooklyn holiday festivites, showing up the nation's suburbias with elaborate, intricately designed Christmas light shows. The main light display in on 84th Street between 10th and 13th Avenues, although several streets on either side have plugged into the festivities. Although you can walk and enjoy them, its best -- given the weather and sheer number -- to take a car.

Nobody's quite sure of the beginnings of the Dyker Lights festivities, though most families have been doing it for generations and real consolidated efforts -- corresponding to improvements in electronic Christmas decoration -- probably happened in the mid- to late 1940s. Families there have been participating in this 'friendly' competition since then, spending the entire year in preparation. The New York Times even features the Marcolinis, who also decorate for Halloween and Easter and this year include a massive mechanical Santa.

Dyker Heights sits on the location of the old Dutch settlement of New Utrecht, founded some 355 years ago, whose most prominent citizens the Van Dykes lend the neighborhood their name. As for the 'Heights' part, this is the highest natural point in southern Brooklyn, which attracted developers in the late 19th century. The cluster of Christmas adorned light shows now are mostly attached to turn-of-the-century abodes built by residents lured by developer and salesman Walter L. Johnson.

Today those homes are owned mostly by Italian-American families. According to the Brooklyn Paper, the top four most decorated homes are those of the Spatas, Polizzottos, Rizzutos and the Lambrones!

One of the houses you'll be passing is of particular historical interest, the Saitta House (below), an exquisite home in the Tudor style that's listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was a cover model in a 1901 edition of Scientific American's architecture edition.

Also of note: Dyker Heights is the home of Scott Baio.

Gothamist has some info on visiting the Dyker Lights. Prepare for some traffic and stop-and-start gawking.

Friday, December 14, 2007

FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER: The Slide / Kenny's Castaways

To get you in the mood for the weekend, every Friday we'll be celebrating 'FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER', featuring an old New York nightlife haunt, from the dance halls of 19th Century Bowery, to the massive warehouse spaces of the mid-90s. Past entries can be found HERE.

The rapid transitional personality of a New York City building tends to write over the juicier bits of its past. Will we remember CBGBs 20 years from now when it's a fashion boutique? Do the college students down at the Palladium NYU dormitory in the East Village know what their building's named after?

When Patrick Kenny opened Kenny's Castaways in 1967 at 157 Bleeker Street, he certainly knew he was settling down onto the equivalent of an burial ground of early Village debauchery. And without obscuring the establishment quite seedy origins he would create a bit of history himself.

Patrons slipping into a bar at that address less than a hundred years before would be stepping into what the New York Press (a 19th Century news rag) called "the wickedest place in New York." Being New York in 1890, I suspect there were a few places more 'wicked' in the city; yet The Slide won this notorious title for being a flaunting homosexual dive bar.

You can't trust police blotters and morality crusader sheets like the Press to give an accurate depiction of what The Slide was really like. But even an attempt to peel back the hyperbole gives you a sight that would rival the bawdier Village gay bars of today.

Dive lord Frank Stephenson seemed to specialize in lubricating the underground fringes of society. His Black and Tan bar down the street from the Slide catered to non-white patrons who preferred the flirtation of 'amoral' white ladies (sometimes prostitutes, often thieves). The Slide went a step further, with open displays of men in drag, 'one to three hundred people, most of whom are males, but are unworthy the name of men', performing 'fairies' on pianos, and backrooms of male prostitution.

Homosexual behavior of any stripe would have been condemned in this era; such flagrant and open displays would have been unthinkable. The clientele were 'effeminate, degraded, and addicted to vices which are inhuman and unnatural'. A bar today would be honored to be strapped with such description!

Some of the Slide's patrons went by such names as Princess Toto, Madam Fisher, Maggie Vickers, Phoebe Pinafore and Queen of the Slide. Female prostitutes mingled with the men to create what must have been a dizzying stew of genders, the air filled with cheap booze, wild sex ('orgies beyond description') and tunes banged out on an old piano.

Flash forward almost 75 years. The Slide was closed down by police in 1892 and the building took on a host of different identities. In preparing for opening of Kenny's Castaways, the Kenny family would find the basement cellars --- with largely intact evidence of its use as a brothel -- almost preserved. Many of the bars floors and fixtures hearken to the 19th century. What Patrick Kenny planned, however, would definitely influence the 20th. Kenny would return the space to its former glory as a raucous bar and host to a very different set of over-the-top characters, while leaving the basic layout of the bar mostly intact.

Instead of mincing drag queens, Kenny's Castaways would host up-and-coming rockers and superstars longing to return to barroom performance spaces. Patti Smith, the New York Dolls, Blues Traveler and Aerosmith have all played Kenny's worn stage early in their careers. Two Ramones, DeeDee and Joey, are purported to have first met at a Dolls show here in the 70s.

A young singer Bruce Springsteen performed for a week here in 1973 with his new band the E Street Band. Seven years later Kenny's would hire a house band the Smithereens. Even today the bar hosts a mix of big stars and local cover bands, and all rather discreetly, at least in New York terms. The bar rarely advertises, yet everybody knows Kenny's.

Patrick died three years ago, but the family continues to run it. This year is Kenny's 40th anniversary. I can't help but think that the ghost of Princess Toto sidles up to the bar every night to lord over the festivities with satisfaction.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

PODCAST: Radio City Music Hall & the Rockettes

Behind the glamour of New York's greatest stage Radio City Music Hall is a story involving a toothpaste tube designer, an allergy to Brazil nuts, a hydraulic lift protected from the Nazis, and a man named Roxy. PLUS: The Bowery Boys go backstage (well, figuratively) with the Rockettes.

Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting services. Or you can download or listen to it HERE

The Rockettes in practice:

Radio City's movie / stage extravaganza combo:

By the way, a couple of our richer anecdotes are from one of my favorite books about New York City -- Great Fortune: the Epic of Rockefeller Center by Daniel Okrent. On top of being well written, Okrent gives delicious insight and lush description to a story that could have been bogged down in uninteresting details.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The History of (Destroying) New York City

I apologize for the second post in a row about films, but I had to ask the question, when did destroying New York become hot again?

This Friday is the opening of I Am Legend, an adaptation of Richard Matheson's classic thriller about the last non-zombiefied human being alive. In this case, he resides in New York City, the population wiped out by a virus. Nice to know that the last representative of the human race is charming, witty, and a former rapper.

If that's not enough doomsday for you, JJ Abrams brings us Cloverfield next month, about a sea monster 'the size of a skyscraper' ravaging New York. I almost breathed a sigh of relief when I found out that M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening releasing next spring, takes out Philadelphia.

Tokyo may be the one with the most movie monsters attacking it in film history, but New York has taken it pretty hard from a variety of fictional sources. Here's the top ten (I left out films that actually destroy the whole earth):

1. King Kong (1933)
Sure, they destroy more in a run-of-the-mill Fantastic Four or Spider-man movie these days than ole Kong does here, but the sheer novelty at the time of urban carnage was enough to petrify audiences. His attack on the elevated train is still terrifying. Thank God he merely climbs the Empire State Building.

2. Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Atomicly-woken prehistoric beastie with germ-infested blood plays tourist in Manhattan, eventually finding a suitable lodging at a roller-coaster in Coney Island. The movie is flat and plotless, but love that Ray Harryhousen stop-motion monster. If it wasn't so destructive, the monster might be a little lovable.

3. Planet of the Apes (1968)
By placing it on this list, I suppose I've spoiled the ending for you.

4. Escape From New York (1981)
John Carpenter takes a different approach to the Manhattan destruction theme -- turning it into a gigantic prison -- and along the way, makes a potent comment about New York in the late 70s.

5. Ghostbusters (1984)
New York City has seen its share of monsters. From the skies, we've had Q: the Winged Serpent. From below, C.H.U.D. And in our elevators, those damned Gremlins! Even Godzilla's taken a snack by the Flatiron Building, years before the opening of the Shake Shack. But no big baddie comes closer to the hearts of New Yorkers than the sugary goodness of this sweet ectoplasmic ogre, successfully dispatched by Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray.

6.Independence Day (1996)
Destroying New York City really came into its own cinematically in the 90s. The unease at seeing our fair city blown to smithereens by alien blasts is offset by the cries of joy of future architects and city planners at the alien's first target -- the Pan Am/Met Life building. It is sort of awful seeing Park Avenue South wiped away by flames. Some great restaurants, gone in a flash!

7. The Siege (1998)
Technically the only movie on the list that really 'could' happen, however the filmmakers glee is killing off mass groups of New Yorkers is just plain sadistic. The bombing of a Broadway theater -- look, that rich woman is missing her arm! -- is of particular poor taste. Maybe it would have been easier to swallow had the movie been actually, you know, good.

8. AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Steven Spielberg creates some graceful carnage -- waterfalls and flocks of birds among toppled buildings -- and includes a vision of a destroyed Twin Towers in a rather unfortunate year of release. Don't get too depressed however; his recollection of the city is hardly too accurate. One of the buildings is literally just a Apple computer subwoofer dressed up to look like a building.

9. Deep Impact (1998) and Day After Tomorrow(2004)
These two films are pretty abysmal, but the creative ways in which they treat New York City like children's toys in the hands of natural catastrophe is at least notable. Heck, and even I'll throw in the meteor madness of Armageddon (1998), which dares to take specific note to flatten the Chrysler Building along with everything else. And for the sheer cheese factor, I cant forget to mention the 1999 made for TV Aftershock: Earthquake in New York.

*sigh* Lady Liberty, just can't catch a break...

10. King Kong (2005)
In the rather campy remake from 1976, Kong tackles the World Trade Center. By the time Peter Jackson got around to remaking it, he's back on top of the Empire State and wrecking a bit more havoc than his prior incarnation.

Honorable Mention: New Yorkers should be honored to know that in the Japanese monster classic Destroy All Monsters (1968) set in the future (aka 1999), New York City is in fact destroyed by Godzilla before he gets to Tokyo.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Still 'Burning' after all these years

Above: the phenomenal Willi Ninja

BOWERY BOYS RECOMMEND is an occasional feature whereby we find an unusual movie or TV show that -- whether by accident or design -- uniquely captures an era of New York City better than any reference or history book. Other entrants in this particular film festival can be found HERE.

The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem saw the birth of the Swing-era 'Lindy hop' during the late 20s, a hip-swiveling dance named after Charles Lindburgh which became a regular move on dance floors. The Savoy would see a more radical mix of dance styles -- and a decidedly more adventurous clientele -- in the late 70s with the Harlem drag balls. The rest of the world was let in on this little secret in the cult classic 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning by Jennie Livingston.

'Paris' woke up many open-minded Americans -- and rankled just about everybody else -- to a community even further out of the spotlight than the 'mainstream' gay and lesbian community of that time. (Mainstream, of course, being relative in 1990.) Here were groups of primarily young black and Latino gay men and transgenders, with little evidence of stable home environment, enjoying the freedom of glamour and high fashion, elegance and performance on display on dancefloors in late 80s Harlem.

'Paris Is Burning' displayed the New York 'house' culture, groups of men under the aegis of various fashion houses -- featured in the movie are the houses of LaBeija, Ninja and Xtravaganza -- that serve practically as unofficial families. They meet on the dancefloor in competitions to emulate feminine and masculine stereotypes with just that extra added component of glamour. Fashion models, banji boys, military. Watching the competitions of 'realness' -- the ability to pass ones self in the real world as 'normal' -- has almost amusing relevance filmed as it was before the era of hyper-masculine gay appearances and culture of the 'down low'.

New York City looks drab next to the colorful and fabulous personalities. You can catch a glimpse of how the West Village piers once looked, but who's paying attention when Venus Extravaganza is talking? She's the most heartbreaking character -- I won't spoil why -- and has always been my favorite; faced with insurmountable obstacles, you still root for her as she describes her fantasy life to be a kept housewife and a fashion model. Livingston cleverly intercuts with pictures of at-the-time current models, images which are even more strikingly absurd now. Venus might be happy to know she looks more like a model of today than any of those women.

Many of the greatest personalities in 'Paris' are no longer with us, giving the movie an even more depressing weight. However, one of the featured stars Octavia St. Laurent (pictured above) is still looking great -- although she now calls herself Heavenly Angel Octavia St. Laurent. Like the Lindy hop, another dance borne from the floors of the Savoy, voguing, as infiltrated modern pop music, from Madonna to Britney Spears.

And some members of the houses have gone on to mainstream success. Willi Ninji, who passed away last year, became a recording artist and dance coach, notably to Paris Hilton. Another member of the house of Ninja, Benny Ninja, is a frequent guest on America's Next Top Model.

And while the visibility of the Harlem ballroom danceoffs may have peeked with 'Paris Is Burning', they're still going strong, particularly in other cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles. The House of Ultra-Omni recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. While the younger generation now 'perform' as modern stars like Jay Z, there's still plenty of glamour and confidence to go around.

If you haven't seen 'Paris Is Burning' in a few years, I highly recommend another viewing and maybe a little private voguing in your living room.

Below: The style of Kevin Ultra-Omni, at his house's anniversary party

Above photo: Ann Johansson for The New York Times

Monday, December 10, 2007

Know Your Mayors: Richard Varick

As a former mayor of New York City runs for the White House -- and our current one clumsily flirts with the possibility -- we think its time to familiarize ourselves with other men who've held the job, from the ultra-powerful to the political puppets, the most effective to the most useless. Our profiles to other gentlemen in this series can be found here.

One might look upon Rudy Guiliani or Hillary Clinton -- or for that matter, most any of the people running for president -- and see the very epitome of career politicians, people we seem to exist for the mere notion of public office, no matter how mired in the muck of scandal. I do believe, however, Rudy and Hil could learn some lessons from the towering Richard Varick, who became mayor in 1789, succeeding last week's featured mayor James Duane.

Varick had a virtually unblemished military record during the Revolutionary War but for one unfortunate association. During the early days of battle, he served as secretary to General Philip Schuyler, later father-in-law to Varick's friend Alexander Hamilton. He swiftly moved on as inspector-general of the newly formed military base at West Point (it wouldn't become a military academy until 1802) where he would become entangled with a potential political albatross -- Benedict Arnold.

Serving as Arnold's loyal aide-de-camp, he was unaware that his friend was selling West Point -- and the American cause -- down the river, plotting to trade the base's secrets to the British. Arnold's treachery was found out, and it comes as no surprise that Varick too was suspected of treason, but was later exonerated. The sting of betrayal was allieved slightly when Varick was appointed Washington's personal secretary in the later days of the Revolutionary War.

Not one to let one sticky political association bog him down, Varick was appointed a recorder of New York City once the British were swept out of town, and eventually appointed mayor of Manhattan in 1789 only after a host of other political positions stateside, including speaker of the state assembly and attorney general. Interestingly he would step down as New York Attorney General and be replaced by another Revolutionary figure of great controversy, Aaron Burr.

The city population doubled under his administration, so naturally basic civic neccessities like water and disease control became the focus of his attentions. Due to his support of the quite unpopular Jay Treaty in 1794, he was almost literally driven out of City Hall by a mad riot.

In a sweep of political fortunes that made Thomas Jefferson president of the country, Varick was then replaced in 1801 by Edward Livingston. Like James Duane, Varick is immortalized in downtown Manhattan with a street named after him. The present street cuts straight through the spot where Varick's property once sat.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

History in the making - 12/8

Above: At the Helmsley Building, downtown Manhattan

Hollywood hits the Chelsea Hotel [Hotel Chelsea Blog]

The thankful return of the former East Village institution 2nd Avenue Deli [Eater]

The forboding home of 'Mamie' Fish, successor to THE Mrs. Astor [Lost City]

The latest on Officers Row, Brooklyn Naval Yard's in-danger historic section of 19th Century homes. [Brownstoner]

The renovation of Washington Square Park is finally moving forward, to the consternation of some. [City Room]

Kevin Walsh at Forgotten NY takes another look at the endangered Astoria Village. [Forgotten New York]

Friday, December 7, 2007

FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER: Coyote Ugly Saloon

Above: From the official website -- the girls of Coyote Ugly

To get you in the mood for the weekend, every Friday we'll be celebrating 'FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER', featuring an old New York nightlife haunt, from the dance halls of 19th Century Bowery, to the massive warehouse spaces of the mid-90s. Past entries can be found HERE.

Studio 54. The Cotton Club. The Copacabana. Coyote Ugly.

If you're thinking to yourself, "Is this a game of 'one of these things is not like the other'", you would be wrong. These four storied institutions have something very key about them -- they are the four members of New York nightlife that have been the subject of their very own Hollywood film. (Please email me if I've missed any!)

In fact, of the four, only the Copacabana and Coyote had films made about them while the bars themselves were still in operation. The Copacabana film had Groucho Marx and Carmen Miranda. Coyote Ugly has Bud Cort and Leann Rimes.

Okay, I may be giving a lot of credit to this East Village saloon, 1st Ave and 9th Street, named after the term for waking up with an unattractive partner after a raucous night of beer-goggled imbibing. But you have to admire the gumption and savvy of its creator Liliana Lovell (pictured below) in turning the traditional notion of a dive bar into a kerosene-soaked, carnival-like Hooters.

In the early 90s, Lovell was a two-jobber -- an intern at an investment firm by day, a bartender at The Village Idiot by night. With a degree from NYU in psychology and communications, she soon found bartending more rewarding and lucrative. In particular, she admired the style of Village Idiot owner Tom McNeill; that bar, formerly a block away from the current location of Coyote Ugly, was known for loud 70s country music, swaggering drink contest and pretty bartenders in low cut tops -- almost a camp variation on a Southern hard-drinkin' saloon.

Lovell eventually saved enough to buy an Italian restaurant down the street and refit it with familiar Village Idiot decor but with a twist that would make P.T Barnum blush -- a phalanx of female bartenders who could sing, dance and (most importantly) literally blow fire like a sideshow freak. The notion turned mid 90s feminism on its head -- a surface objectification of themselves tied into their roles as circus masters -- while making a steady profit from frat boys and curiosity seekers.

It would have remained a quaint anomaly of New York college fantasies if not for bartender and writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who turned her experiences into an amusing GQ article that was then quickly spun into a Hollywood feature in 2000, with Maria Bello as playing the brassy, sassy Lovell.

Lovell was quick to take advantage of the films rusty-glam depiction of her establishment. Not exactly the most austere or critically acclaimed concept to begin with, Lovell had no qualms about spinning Coyote Ugly into a franchise, starting (naturally) in Las Vegas in 2001, then to New Orleans in 2003, arguably two places where it could reach its fullest potential.

She's now up to thirteen locations around the country (and one in Panama City) and thanks to a reality show the Ultimate Coyote Ugly Search, may continue to become America's feisty madam of flaming cocktails. Although she might have gone corporate, she's still an East Village institution whenever she's in town (she lives in New Orleans now). Texas Guinan would be so, so proud.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

PODCAST: The Flatiron Building

What are the Bowery Boys doing in Chicago? Just a little detour in our search for the origins of the Flatiron Building, the wedge shaped, wind producing oddity -- built as an office space in a department store neighborhood which grew to become one of the most romantic, elegant buildings in New York City.

Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting services. Or you can download or listen to it HERE

This is the place where I usually put up a lot of pictures related to the podcast. However, I don't think I could do as good a job as NYC Architecture's great coverage of the Flatiron. Check out their site for a lot of great pictures, including some of the construction.

For more information on the Worth Monument -- the odd obelisk sitting in the traffic island in front of the Flatiron -- read this.

Daniel Burnham, the Flatiron's architect and planner of Chicago's White City, among a great many other things.

Burnham's greatest challenge -- the World's Columbian Exposition

Burnham's final resting place, at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago: