Thursday, March 24, 2011
The building is a great example of Beaux Arts architecture, designed by Cass Gilbert, and completed in 1907. The building is so grand that it has had numerous cameos in movies, including "Ghost Busters II," "Working Girl," "Batman Forever," and "Analyze This."
The seven story building (only the first 2 are open to the public) is adorned with stately columns and four large sculptures by Daniel Chester French (better known for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.) representing America, Asia, Europe and Africa. The sculptures reflect the then-accepted stereotypes of each continent: America and Europe are shown as active, intelligent, capable and ruled by law (see America, above left). Asia is passive, withdrawn and exotic, while Africa (see above right), leaning on a weathered sphinx, is actually asleep!