Even in this age of prying media, New York is still a place where it can seem that momentous and mysterious things are transpiring in the heights of mighty skyscrapers and behind closed doors. The Bank of New York Building, built for the Irving Bank in 1929–31, occupies one of the city’s most prestigious parcels of real estate, One Wall Street (pictured above). As befits the address, few buildings look more important than this Art Deco tower, its cool, clean limestone facade soaring 50 stories.
The building still imparts a sense of honesty and no-nonsense efficiency, even in this more cynical age when neighboring Wall Street has displayed so much evidence to the contrary. Stepping through the vaulted, gilded, cathedral-like entrance in no way dispels these illusions: Inside is a two-story-tall banking hall, a glittering expanse of purple marble, and red-and-gold mosaics, where even cashing a check would feel like a great financial transaction.
The Weil-Worgelt Study is another Art Deco lair, executed by a Parisian firm of decorators for a Park Avenue apartment in 1930 and now in the Brooklyn Museum across the river.
The olive-wood veneers, etched glass, lacquer panels, sleek furnishings, and concealed bar all suggest the very essence of urbane sophistication. You may be sorry you can’t step in and lounge for a spell. The museum’s wonderful collections of American art and Egyptian antiquities are just as transporting.