33 Maiden Lane

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At the base of the turreted beige-brick headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is this two-level open-air covered pedestrian space bounded by Maiden Lane, Nassau Street, and John Street. The space is best entered through the two small public pedestrian circulation area spaces, up several steps from Maiden Lane or at grade from Nassau Street. Inside is a tall chamber, framed by heavy-set brick arches and four overhead hanging golden metal globes with a smaller globe in between. Movable chairs are scattered about in clusters of three, and several planters are arrayed near the walls.

The John Street end of the space is hard to understand until its history is revealed. Escalators descend to a lower level, which provides an entrance to the Fulton Street and Broadway/Nassau subway station. Years ago, this level also housed a satellite branch of uptown’s Whitney Museum of American Art, similar in concept to the one still operating at the Philip Morris covered pedestrian space across from Grand Central Terminal. A trace of art, a Fernand Leger piece entitled The Circus (1954), with its cacophony of blue, red, beige, black, and turquoise colors depicting circus performers, remained for a while after the Whitney vacated the space. Stairs ascend out to John Street.

Privately owned public space POPS
Photo: Kayden et al. (2000)


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