Urban Study: A Fresh Look at the Times Square Building

Wings1.jpg

c Lucia Guarino

I had always enjoyed seeing the Times Square Building on my infrequent trips from suburbia into the city. But it was not until I moved downtown to a place where it was visible from most of my windows, that the building, and in particular its Wings of Progress, began to capture my curiosity. 

I am indebted to Mr. Richard Calabrese (the main man over there!) for his graciousness and for taking the time out of his busy schedule to show me this sculpture from the vantage point of his rooftop. The hundreds of images that I captured have provided endless hours of visual and personal exploration. I hope that with this photo essay you will begin to see this ever-present, architectural and sculptural work of art in ways that you have not yet experienced.  

©Lucia Falsetti Guarino

On October 29,1929, the day of the first stock market crash, the cornerstone of the Genesee Valley Trust Building was laid and the structure known to Rochestarians as the Times Square Building found its place in the Rochester skyline. Ralph Thomas Walker of the architectural firm Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker, designed the building to serve as a pedestal for an extraordinary sculpture, the Wings of Progress.

lucia

While the sculpture is predominantly art deco, gothic elements are incorporated in its design, imparting to it a mildly ominous, macabre feeling.

©Lucia Falsetti Guarino

Supposedly, Ralph Walker conceived of the idea for the wings while walking on a beach looking at sea shells. Each of the four wings is 42 feet high, 14.5 feet wide at center, and weighs 7,000 lbs. The metal rings that must have been used in raising the sculpture are visible at the tip of each wing.

©Lucia Falsetti Guarino

Each wing is pinioned to its base through a perforated metal screen. The screen is decorated with a bent stalk of wheat motif.

©Lucia Falsetti Guarino

As I sat at my computer studying the images, I began to feel as though something was watching me from its perch high above our city.

©Lucia Falsetti Guarino

Maybe something was watching me.

©Lucia Falsetti Guarino

As though the sculpture was meant to be viewed close-up as well as from street-level, it takes on a whole different character and becomes even more impressive when viewed close-up.

©Lucia Falsetti Guarino

This photograph was taken from Corn Hill at the I-490 pedestrian bridge.

©Lucia Falsetti Guarino

And yes, there is a place for the ubiquitous urban parking lot in this story.  An adjoining building was removed to make room for a parking lot leaving an interesting scar on one of Time Square's external walls.

Security      Russell Street

The bas-relief sculptures on the front of the building were designed by Leo Friedlander of New York City. The northern panel (right) is entitled Trust: allegoric figures of a woman and child represent the qualities of guiding influence and dependence. In the background of this panel are images of buildings, boats, historic structures and other forms associated with history and industry. The southern panel (left) is entitled Security: a woman defended by two dogs protects the bank.


Self Portrait with BridgeLucia teaches at St. John Fisher College and lives in downtown Rochester. You can contact her via email LFG1953@gmail.com or check out her Facebook to see her most recent travels around this beautiful city.