When the stock market crashed in 1929, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. held a $91 million, 24-year lease on a piece of midtown Manhattan property properly known as « the speakeasy belt. » Plans to gentrify the neighborhood by building a new Metropolitan Opera House on the site were dashed by the failing economy and the business outlook was dim. Nevertheless, Rockefeller made a bold decision that would leave a lasting impact on the city’s architectural and cultural landscape. He decided to build an entire complex of buildings on the property-buildings so superior that they would attract commercial tenants even in a depressed city flooded with vacant rental space. The project would express the highest ideals of architecture and design and stand as a symbol of optimism and hope.
The search for a commercial partner led to the Radio Corporation of America, a young company whose NBC radio programs were attracting huge audiences and whose RKO studios were producing and distributing popular motion pictures that offered welcome diversion in hard times. Rockefeller’s financial power and RCA’s media might were joined by the unusual talents of impresario S.L. « Roxy » Rothafel. Roxy had earned a reputation as a theatrical genius by employing an innovative combination of vaudeville, movies and razzle-dazzle decor to revive struggling theatres across America. Together Rockefeller, RCA and Roxy realized a fantastic dream – a theatre unlike any in the world, and the first completed project within the complex that RCA head David Sarnoff dubbed « Radio City. » Radio City Music Hall was to be a palace for the people. A place of beauty offering high-quality entertainment at prices ordinary people could afford. It was intended to entertain and amuse, but also to elevate and inspire.
Source : www.radiocity.com
The Arc de Triomphe is a monument in Paris that stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the « Place de l’Étoile ». It is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The triumphal arch honors those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. On the inside and the top of the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought. Underneath is the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I.
The Arc is the linchpin of the historic axis (Axe historique) — a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which goes from the courtyard of the Louvre Palace to the outskirts of Paris. The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1836, and its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail and set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant nationalistic messages, until World War I.
The monument stands 49.5 m (162 ft) in height, 45 m (150 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. The large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide. The big vault is 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high and 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. It is the second largest triumphal arch in existence. Its design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1926, marking the end of hostilities in World War I, Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured on newsreel.
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It forms the backdrop for an impressive urban ensemble in Paris. The monument surmounts the hill of Chaillot at the center of a star-shaped configuration of radiating avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years, and in 1810 when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect Jean Chalgrin died in 1811, and the work was taken over by Jean-Nicolas Huyot. During the Bourbon Restoration, construction was halted and it would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, in 1833–36 when the architects on site were Goust, then Huyot, under the direction of Héricart de Thury. Napoleon’s body passed under it on 15 December 1840 on its way to its second and final resting place at the Invalides.
Since the fall of Napoleon (1815), the sculpture representing Peace is interpreted as commemorating the Peace of 1815. The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin (1739–1811), in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture (see, for example, the triumphal Arch of Titus at right). Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire. The main sculptures are not integral friezes but are treated as independent trophies applied to the vast ashlar masonry masses, not unlike the gilt-bronze appliqués on Empire furniture. The four sculptural groups at the base of the Arc are The Triumph of 1810 (Cortot), Resistance and Peace (both by Antoine Étex) and the most renowned of them all, Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 commonly called La Marseillaise (François Rude). The face of the allegorical representation of France calling forth her people on this last was used as the belt buckle for the seven-star rank of Marshal of France.
In the attic above the richly sculptured frieze of soldiers are 30 shields engraved with the names of major Revolutionary and Napoleonic military victories. (The Battle of Fuentes de Onoro is described as a French victory, instead of the tactical draw). The inside walls of the monument list the names of 660 persons, among which 558 French generals of the First French Empire; the names of those who died in battle are underlined. Also inscribed, on the shorter sides of the four supporting columns, are the names of the major victorious battles of the Napoleonic Wars. The battles which took place in the period between the departure of Napoleon from Elba and his final defeat at Waterloo are not included.
The sword carried by the Republic in the Marseillaise relief broke off on the day, it is said, that the Battle of Verdun began in 1916. The relief was immediately hidden by tarpaulins to conceal the accident and avoid any undesired ominous interpretations. Famous victory marches past the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1918, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. Charles de Gaulle survived an attack upon him at the Arc de Triomphe during a parade[when?].
 The Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War. Interred here on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire was extinguished in the year 394. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both World Wars). The French model inspired the United Kingdom’s tomb of The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. A ceremony is held there every 11 November on the anniversary of the armistice signed between France and Germany in 1918. It was originally decided on 12 November 1919 to bury the unknown soldier’s remains in the Panthéon, but a public letter-writing campaign led to the decision to bury him beneath the Arc de Triomphe. The coffin was put in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc on 10 November 1920, and put in its final resting place on 28 January 1921. The slab on top carries the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918 (« Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918″).
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy of the United States paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by French President de Gaulle. After the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy remembered the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe and requested that an eternal flame be placed next to her husband’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. President de Gaulle went to Washington to attend the state funeral, and he was able to witness Jacqueline Kennedy lighting the eternal flame that was inspired by her visit to France.
The flame was extinguished in 1998 during the FIFA World Cup by a drunk Mexican national who peed on it. He was arrested and charged with Public Intoxication.
By the early 1960s, the monument had grown very blackened from coal soot and automobile exhaust, and during 1965–1966 the it was thoroughly cleaned through bleaching. By 2007, some darkening was again apparent. The arc is planned to be bleached again in 2011
Via Nazionale is a street in Rome from Piazza della Repubblica leading towards Piazza Venezia.
Already begun as via Pia, named in honour of Pius IX who had wanted to connect Stazione Termini to the city centre, the street was completed at the end of the 19th century through the ambition of several figures of the Risorgimento to create a « new Rome » as a capital of the unified Kingdom of Italy.
The enlargement of this artery was necessary to create a link between Rome’s central station and the most populous part of the city, and the new road was extended to the east bank of the river Tiber by the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. However, the construction works ripped the heart out of the city by demolishing buildings in its path (including palazzi such as the National Dramatic Theatre), which substantially modified the previous street’s route.
Source : Wikipedia.org
The Fontaines de la Concorde are two monumental fountains located in the Place de la Concorde in the center of Paris. They were designed by Jacques Ignace Hittorff, and completed in 1840 during the reign of King Louis-Philippe. The south fountain commemorates the maritime commerce and industry of France, and the north fountain commemorates navigation and commerce on the rivers of France.
Before in the French Revolution, during the period 1753-1772, when the square was called Place Louis XV, the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel designed a plan for a monumental statue of Louis XV with two fountains, but, because of a lack of sufficient water, it was never carried out. Gabriel did complete the building of the Ministry of the Navy overlooking the square- its presence later nfluenced the choice of the themes of the Fontaines de la Concorde.
During the French Revolution, the square was renamed Place de la Revolution, the guillotine was placed there, and King Louis XVI and thousands of others were beheaded near the site of the present fountains. In 1795, after the Reign of Terror ended, the square was renamed the Place de la Concorde. After the restoration of the Monarchy in 1816 the square was renamed in the Memory of King Louis XVI.
The completion of the Canal de l’Ourcq in 1824, bringing water from outside the city to the Center of Paris, made it possible to build new fountains in the Place de la Concorde. In 1829, during the rule of King Charles X, the city sponsored a competition for a new plan for the square, which was to include no less than four fountains. One of the entrants in the competition was Jacques Ignace Hittorff, a German by birth, who had previously designed decorations for festivals, funerals, and the 1825 coronation of Charles X. The plan of Hittorff featured four fountains in four quadrants surrounding an equestrian statue of Louis XVI. His plan was not selected.
After the 1830 July Revolution, the new King, Louis-Philippe, renamed the square Place de la Concorde and rejected the earlier project for the Place. In 1831, when the viceroy of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, gave the King the gift of an obelisk dating from the time of Ramses II from Luxor, Louis-Philippe selected Hittorff to design a setting for the obelisk in time for the 1833 July festival, intended to commemorate the anniversary of his rule. Shortly afterwards Louis-Philippe gave him a commission to redesign the entire square.
Hittorff worked on the design for the square and for four fountains from 1833 to 1840, consulting closely with Claude Philibert Barthelot Rambuteau, the Prefect of the Seine. The principal influence on his fountain designs were the twin fountains in Piazza San Pietro in Rome, which also are placed on either side on an obelisk, and which Hittdorff had seen on a visit to Rome in the 1820s. Another influence was Piazza Navona in Rome, where two fountains were placed on either side of an obelisk. Like the fountains of Piazza Navona, the Fontaines de la Concorde were placed on an axis that connected the Church of the Madeleine and the Rue Royale to the north and the bridge to the Palais Bourbon to the south.
Twelve different sculptors worked on the statuary of the fountains, closely supervised by Hittorff, who made sure that the entire ensemble would be harmonious and balanced. A prominent feature of the design of both fountains was a mushroom-shaped cap above the central vasque. Water was to jet from the top of the cap and then cascade downward into a circular vasque, then down into a large circular basin below. The major figures of the fountains were made of cast iron, florentined, or painted with bronze and gold paint. The smaller figures of the tritons and nereids were made of bronze.
Between 1833 and 1840, Hittdorff modified the plans several times. In 1835, when a government committee reported that the water supply would not be sufficient for four new fountains, he reduced the number to two. The obelisk was put in place on the square on October 25, 1836. Both fountains were completed in May, 1840.
In 1862-63, the fountains were restored, and the bronze and gold paint was replaced with a bronze coating.
The sculptors who worked on the fountain were:
* Auguste-Hyacinthe Debay (The Atlantic and the Mediterreanean)
* Antoine Desbouefs (Coral and Fish)
* Achille Joseph Valois (Shells and Pearls)
* Isidore-Hippolyte Brion (Maritime navigation, Astronomy and Commerce)
* Jean-François-Theodore Gechter (The Rhône and the Rhine)
* François-Gaspard Lanno (Flowers and Fruit)
* Honoré-Jean Husson (Wheat and Grapes)
* Jean-Jacques Feuchère (River Navigation, Industry and Agriculture)
* Jean-Jacques Elshoecht, Louis-Parfait Merlieux, Antonin-Marie Moine (tritons and neriads)
Source : Wikipedia.org
An old picture made with a Sony Alpha 100
La Défense is a major business district for the city of Paris. With a population of 20,844, it is centered in an oval freeway loop straddling the Hauts-de-Seine département municipalities of Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux. The district is at the westernmost extremity of Paris’ 10 km long Historical Axis, which starts at the Louvre in Central Paris and continues along the Champs-Élysées, well beyond the Arc de Triomphe before culminating at La Défense.
Around its 110-metre (360 ft)-high Grande Arche and esplanade (« le Parvis »), the district holds many of the Paris urban area’s tallest high-rises. With its 77.5 acres (314,000 m2), its 72 glass-and-steel slick buildings including 14 high-rises above 150 metres (490 ft), its 150,000 daily workers and 3.5 million square metres (37.7 million sq ft) of office space, La Défense is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district.
Source : Wikipedia
The Eiffel Tower (French: Tour Eiffel, [tuʀ ɛfɛl]) is a 19th century iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris that has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower, which is the tallest building in Paris,is the single most visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World’s Fair.
The tower stands at 324 m (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. It was the tallest structure in the world from its completion until 1930, when it was eclipsed by the Chrysler Building in New York City. Not including broadcast antennas, it is the second-tallest structure in France, behind the Millau Viaduct, completed in 2004. And while the Eiffel Tower is a steel structure, and weighs approximately 10,000 tonnes, it actually has a relatively low density, weighing less than a cylinder of air occupying the same dimensions as the tower.
The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend either on stairs or lifts to the first and second levels. The walk to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is only accessible by lift. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants.
The tower has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France. The tower is a featured part of the backdrop in literally scores of movies that take place in Paris. Its iconic status is so established that it even serves as a symbol for the entire nation of France, such as when it was used as the logo for the French bid to host the 1992 Summer Olympics.
The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World’s Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Eiffel originally planned to build the tower in Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but those responsible at the Barcelona city hall thought it was a strange and expensive construction, which did not fit into the design of the city. After the refusal of the Consistory of Barcelona, Eiffel submitted his draft to those responsible for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, where he would build his tower a year later, in 1889. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. The risk of accident was great, for unlike modern skyscrapers the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. However, because Eiffel took safety precautions, including the use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died.
Eiffel Tower Construction view: girders at the first story
The tower was met with much criticism from the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. Newspapers of the day were filled with angry letters from the arts community of Paris. One is quoted extensively in William Watson’s US Government Printing Office publication of 1892 Paris Universal Exposition: Civil Engineering, Public Works, and Architecture. “And during twenty years we shall see, stretching over the entire city, still thrilling with the genius of so many centuries, we shall see stretching out like a black blot the odious shadow of the odious column built up of riveted iron plates.” Signers of this letter included Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, Charles Gounod, Charles Garnier, Jean-Léon Gérôme, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and Alexandre Dumas.
Novelist Guy de Maupassant—who claimed to hate the tower—supposedly ate lunch in the Tower’s restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where one could not see the structure. Today, the Tower is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.
One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to 7 stories, only a very few of the taller buildings have a clear view of the tower.
Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years, meaning it would have had to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down (part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished) but as the tower proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to remain after the expiration of the permit. The military used it to dispatch Parisian taxis to the front line during the First Battle of the Marne, and it therefore became a victory statue of that battle.
The co-architects of the Eiffel Tower were Emile Nouguier, Maurice Koechlin and Stephen Sauvestre.
Source : Wikipedia.org
The Louvre Pyramid is a large glass and metal pyramid, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard (Cour Napoleon) of the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) in Paris. The large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Completed in 1989, it has become a landmark for the city of Paris. (Source Wikipedia)