COFFEE @ Kaffe 1668 – Manhattan 10011
If you like your coffee with atmosphere, Kaffe 1668 has it in spades. Designed to a Swedish aesthetic with lots of wood, it’s a welcoming departure from the current trend of industrial décor which features a lot of cold metal. Sit at a big timber bench and rub elbows with other coffeeholics. The timber floors are stunning and feel much comfier underfoot than polished concrete (there’s more than enough concrete outside). It’s also unusually dark inside, like a nightclub. I found this a really interesting concept given how busy and bright the cityscape is on the outside, and then you walk in to this very dark space, infused with the aroma of freshly roasted coffee and humming with murmured conversations.
There is another Kaffe 1668 a few blocks away on the same street but this particular one doesn’t offer free wi-fi so the emphasis is on connecting with people, not the world wide web.
Quirky accents come courtesy of rows of fluffy sheep on shelves which make cool conversation starters. The coffee is roasted in-house and the kitchen offers breakfast and lunch.
NOW & THEN around Downtown Manhattan, NYC
Lower Manhattan – AKA Downtown Manhattan – is situated at the southernmost end which is New York City’s central borough for business, culture and government. It is where George Washington was inaugurated, where the twin towers fell and where capitalism’s heart beats loudest. To be ‘downtown’ indicates that you are anywhere south of 14th Street.
Lower Manhattan is a beacon for architectural geeks like myself. You can actually take a boat tour on the harbour from Chelsea Piers which takes you – in air conditioned comfort, and with refreshments – around the whole island of Manhattan so you can view its evolving skyline. Or, you can tour the Lower Manhattan area for 90 minutes and travel beneath the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.
The Brooklyn Bridge has featured in countless films and TV shows including Independence Day, The Dark Knight Rises, Godzilla and Once Upon a Time in America. A hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge, it is almost 3 kilometres long, 84 metres high above the water, carries 6 lanes of vehicular traffic and can also be crossed on foot or by bicycle. Its neo-Gothic architectural style was by John Augustus Roebling who, tragically, died in 1869, before seeing his design come to fruition. His foot had been crushed against a piling by a ferry resulting in amputation of his toes, followed by a tetanus infection and ultimately, his death.
Aside of course from the human toll, Lower Manhattan took a blow – literally and figuratively – on 9/11 when the terrorist attacks decimated much of its office space and several iconic Lower Manhattan buildings, including the two World Trade Centre behemoths, were destroyed. Now that the National September 11 Memorial is complete, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is rebuilding the precinct with sparkling new buildings and office space, along with new streets too.
Fortunately, some of the area’s great historical buildings survived unscathed. The gorgeous Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom house with its imposing Roman dome, columns and portico was designed in the Beaux-Arts style. That symbol of American capitalism, the New York Stock Exchange building also features soaring Roman columns and sculptures, and architectural symmetry that would provide great satisfaction to anyone with a little OCD.
In a similar symmetrical vein is Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated and which served as the U.S.A.’s first capitol building. A wonderful 18th century-built example of the Greek Revival style, its façade features Parthenon-inspired columns to represent the democracy of the Greeks and an internal domed ceiling that evokes the republican ideals of the ancient Romans.
When you lay eyes upon the Washington Square Arch, you can’t help but feel like you’re on the Champs Elysees because it’s so reminiscent of the Arc De Triomphe in Paris. Built in 1889 out of Tuckahoe marble, it is decorated with sculptures of George Washington, one in civilian clothing and the other in his military uniform and was erected to commemorate the one hundredth year since Washington’s inauguration. What used to be a thoroughfare is today, closed to traffic but pedestrians can walk right through it and capture photographs from every different angle. The arch was designed by Stanford White who had no formal architectural education but who was also the talent behind the second Madison Square Garden, the New York Herald building and other prominent structures in and outside of New York.
A photographic record of my visit to Downtown, NYC
More than any other neighborhood in New York City, Lower Manhattan presents a sharp contrast between the old and the new. There are buildings dating back to when New York was still a British colony and then there are modern state-of-the-art skyscrapers. And of course there are those buildings that combine the old and the new; a style I call Contemperiod.
The following images highlight some of the solutions employed by architects when combing new works with period buildings. Change of use, and associated works, have to create sufficient financial value to cover the costs of both conservation and adaptation, as well as the long-term maintenance of the building. Modern additions are part of the story of a place and their contribution can enrich a city. I definitely find New York all the more exciting for its numerous examples of Contemperiod architecture.
Historic buildings provide an opportunity for creative endeavour. Every area has its own governing body that outline how contemporary layers can be added to significant heritage places. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) of New York was created in 1965 and is the largest municipal preservation agency in the United States of America. The Commission is responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant sites and buildings. They grant them landmark or historic district status and regulate them after designation. For further information and to view terrific photographic records of NYC, check out the NYC Landmark Preservation Commission website. The site includes some wonderful self guided walking tours for the architectural enthusiast.
Location Map – Kaffe 1668