Art Deco Glory – the Verizon Building

Are we at times guilty of not heeding glorious architecture surrounding us? Countless treks around and through the vaulted ceiling passage of this Art Deco confection – then Eureka! Yesterday, I paused and began shooting images in late afternoon of the exterior of The New York Telephone Company Building  a.k.a. Barclay-Vesey Building now The Verizon Building. 

Grateful this exquisite example of Art Deco style by Ralph Walker was not razed years ago. Being adjacent to the World Trade Center site might be one of the reasons it is  overshadowed by all the attention across the street. It did sustain major damage in the September 11, 2001 attacks; thankfully its thick masonry protecting steel columns and other structural elements aided it in withstanding the trauma. Thankful for the three-year $1.4 billion restoration.

I’ll save the equally stunning interiors for a later blog.


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It was here that I stopped dead in my tracks to take note of Ralph Walker’s( of the firm McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin), façade which was inspired by Mayan architecture. Intricate foliage, babies, animal heads and a bell are a few of the plethora of motifs that can be found on the building’s façade.


Imagining the almost infinite laborious hours spent creating what has been called “one of the most significant structures in skyscraper design.”

Construction began in 1923 and the 498 ft. tall 32 story building was completed in 1927 – known then as the Barclay-Vesey Building – serving as the headquarters for the New York Telephone Company.

Wish I had had the opportunity to view this building prior to the $1.4 billion restoration which included carving motif designs in the ornamental limestone. I wonder how the original artisans would have rated the expertise of tradesmen of today.  Tishman Interiors were awarded the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award for its restoration by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 2004.

New York City Landmark – 1999 / National Register of Historic Places in 2009

Next time you are in the Tribeca area, stop and take a gander!!

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such an architectural lover’s delight – this is the front façade view at 140 West Street between Barclay and Vesey streets. Now Verizon headquarters when they merged with Bell Atlantic and GTE in 2013, when Verizon sold the upper 21 floors to a redeveloper with plans to convert them into residences.

Apologies for the blurred elephant image – will have to retake that one! Historians and architects consider the Verizon Building to be the first Art Deco skyscraper – one of the first built under the 1916 Zoning Resolution. We see so many step back principle buildings today; it is a key element of art deco design.


Enchanting Betws-y-coed – Gateway to Snowdonia

Whilst planning our holiday summer 2016, which would include Pete’s lovely British relatives, I began reminiscing about stories he’d told me of his Glaswegian Gran’s special love for Betws-y-coed – “Prayer house in the wood”. I immediately decided we would stay in this picturesque town during our second visit to Wales, with me behind the wheel for the first time in the UK.

Researching Bed and Breakfast choices, we decided to take a chance on one, Oakfield House Bed and Breakfast, that had just opened a week before under new owners who carried out a complete renovation.  A fortuitous decision it was, as the industrious proprietors, Jeanette and Steve, were utterly charming, anticipating our every need, in the midst of newly relocating here from Manchester. If their genuine warmth and humor are a representation of the people there, I’m ready to pay Manchester a visit. An added bonus to the most bountiful  breakfasts Chef Steve prepared for us, was the opportunity for “chatting up” with Jeanette’s Aunt who came to stay for a few days during the transition. I loved the Mancunian dialect, especially hearing Janette say their adorable Westie’s name – Ruby “rebeh” who stole my heart.

I hope we have the opportunity to return to this picturesque valley town  – population 564, in Snowdonia National Park along the Conwy River again. I’m sure Gran was smiling down upon us!


Charming and quaint  – Oakfield House Bed and Breakfast – conveniently located on the A5 – the famous road designed by Thomas Telford. I was eagerly awaiting driving across one of his splendid bridges – The Menai Suspension Bridge the next day.


Dramatic skies set off  Oakfield House Bed and Breakfast – our room was the corner right on the second floor with terrific views of the Conwy Valley – the River Llugwy was directly across the A5.

River Llugwy  – one of the three tributaries of the River Conwy  – the other  two being the Rivers Lledr and Machno  – Betws-y-coed, for the most part was built during the Victorian times and is still today one of the principal villages of Snowdonia National Park.

Miner’s Bridge Fairie  Glen over the Afron Llugwy 





Swallow Falls on Afon Llugwy 

One of Wales most photographed falls – Swallow Falls is a multiple cascading waterfall. It is thought that the English name arose from a mis-hearing of the Welsh word ewynnol (foaming) as the similar-sounding y wennol (swallow).

Pont y Pair Gwydyr Forest  Park  – the smells of the musky forest and verdant landscape make it easily understood why thousands flock to the area of hill-top lakes, ancient bridges river pools and cascading waterfalls. The Gwydyr Forest is named after the ancient estate once owned by the Wynnn Family of Gwydir Castle. It became a National Forest in 1937.


Betws-y-coed  – steeped in rich Welsh mining and railroad history, the town was home to  Britain’s first artists’ colony. The town is built almost entirely of stone quarried from Hafod Las and Rhiwddolion slate quarries. Metal mines producing lead, zinc and copper were located in the Gwydyr Forest among other sites.

The Ugly House (Ty Hyll) – built overnight to take advantage of a 15th century law that let quickie building avoid taxes and fees. The woodland and wildlife garden are open everyday. Learn about the honeybees and pollinators. The Ty Hyll Tearoom, besides offering tea, serves sandwiches and cakes.


Pont y pair Bridge is a landmark in the heart of the village of Betws-y-coed  – built in 1468, the old bridge is buffeted by foaming water after heavy rain. It crosses the Afon Llugwy not far from its convergence with the Afon Conwy.


Dinner at  the Pont y pair Inn was excellent pub fair – steaming  hot Shepherd’s Pie was the perfect anecdote after a chilly day of hiking in this quaint town.

Back at cozy Oakfield House. I only wish I had taken photos of the yummy British breakfasts (included in your stay) Chef Steve prepared every morning. Janette went to market daily and spoiled us with the most delicious array of fresh fruits.


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After visits to Snowdonia National Park and several sights on Anglesey we said good-bye to Betws-y-coed and onward to Scotland! We absolutely adored our time in Wales!

Oakfield House Bed and Breakfast  – Betws-y-coed    Holyhead Rd. /A5  Conwy LL24 OBY,UK / Telephone: 01690 710450 

More later on our holiday in North Wales.

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