Four Sticks

"Four Sticks." Photo by Rick Stachura. February 6, 2024.




And when the owls cry in the night…

Oh, baby baby, when the pines begin to cry…

Baby, baby, baby, how do you feel?

If the rivers runs dry, baby, how would you feel?



Lyrics from “Four Sticks” by Led Zeppelin, 1971.

Photo by Rick Stachura. Looking south down 5th Avenue from West 23rd Street. February 6, 2024. 



Two of the “four sticks” are the vase and its reflection, of course, but the other two deserve some mention. Both have been landmarks since 1989 when their buildings were recognized as members of the Ladies Mile Historic District. 

The one on the right — high atop 170 5th Avenue — was erected between 1897 and 1898. Architect Robert Maynicke (1849-1913), whose firm designed 19 buildings in the District, drew this one for real estate developer Henry Corn (1853-1934), a man whose obituary in the New York Times read: “[He was] one of the pioneer builders on 5th Avenue in the [then] modern period.”

According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the stick is “a Renaissance-inspired octagonal dome resting on two one-story octagonal drums.” You can see the upper story here with its arched windows and free-standing Corinthian columns as it looks down on the Avenue. 

The one on the left is part of today’s combined structure at 141-147 5th Avenue. From 1896 to 1898, Maynicke again worked for Corn here to realize the section at 141-143. However, in 1899, Nathaniel L. McCready, Jr., a stockbroker who owned 145-147, decided to match the grandeur of his neighbor’s creation next door. So he hired Henry Edwards Flicken (1852-1929), who later became a supervising architect at Woodlawn Cemetery, to do the trick. 

Flicken came up with a 12-story companion whose facade curved at the corner of 5th Avenue and 21st Street. On top, he placed a dome. As the LPC relates, that skyline stick is “an oval drum with windows and piers, supporting a band pierced by oculi resting on garland, which in turn support the dome.”

The flagpoles add to the majesty.




  1 comment for “Four Sticks

Share your thoughts...