Poets, Video Games, and Art Deco

As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in February/March 2016, so this post may not be representative of this site today.


The Barbizon

Built in 1927, blending Italian Renaissance and Late Gothic Revival style with a touch of Islamic decorative elements, The Barbizon was for a long time a female-only hotel for young women who visited the city. The building is 23 stories tall, with a façade done in brick and with details in limestone and terracotta. In 2002, it was remodeled and its name was changed to The Melrose Hotel, but it closed in 2005 and was then turned into a condominium, which is now known as Barbizon 63.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and designated a city landmark in 2012. It is also, and this is the reason I sought it out, the hotel where Sylvia Plath stayed when she spent time in New York while working at Mademoiselle magazine, an experience which she later used as inspiration for her novel The Bell Jar.

Nintendo New York

And because yes, while in New York you can visit the site of a pivotal event in the life of a famous poet and a video game giant’s flagship store on the same day… Formerly known as The Pokémon Center, Nintendo New York is located at the Rockefeller Center, and covers an area of 930 square meters (10,000 square feet)!

The place is a smorgasbord of plushies, apparel, and other memorabilia related to any and all Nintendo titles, including some items that are exclusive to this particular store.

The space also serves as a museum displaying concept art for Nintendo titles, as well as older Nintendo playing systems and peripherals.

One such item on display is this little thing. Back in 1989, Stephan Scoggins was participating in the Gulf War when his barracks was bombed, damaging his Game Boy where he had stored it away. Afterwards, he decided to send the Game Boy to Nintendo for repair. While the technicians originally thought that it would be a lost cause, they decided to give it a try and insert a Tetris cartridge, and — I’m sure you guessed it — it worked. The Game Boy continues to function to this day!

Rockefeller Center

Covering a total area of 89,000 square meters (22 acres), Rockefeller Center is a gigantic complex consisting of a total of 19 commercial buildings. 14 of them were commissioned by the Rockefellers — a banking, industrial, and political family that is historically one of the wealthiest in the world.

Originally owned by Columbia University, the site had originally been envisioned as a new home for the Metropolitan Opera, but when the institution could not afford to move to the proposed new building, particularly after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the project was taken over by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Intending to revitalize Midtown Manhattan, Rockefeller entered negotiations with Radio Corporation of America to create a mass-media complex on the site.

All buildings were done in the Art Deco style, with the final three buildings being completed by 1940, making it one of the most important architectural projects completed during the Great Depression. More buildings were added in subsequent decades, with the most recent being completed in the 1970s. The Rockefeller Center was declared a New York City landmark in 1985 and a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

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