05.21.17: Contrasting styles

The red brick facade of the Knickerbocker Hotel
contrasts with the reflective glass on the 4 Times Square building
on the corner of West 42nd Street and Broadway in New York City.


Technical information

Nov. 20, 2009,
10:47 a.m.

40°45’21” N,
73°59'12" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L (50mm)  


1/60th second


New York City is filled with interesting architecture, one of my favorite subjects to photograph. The city has buildings constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s (shortly before or after the start of the 20th century), buildings completed in the 21st century and everything in between.

This photo shows two architectural extremes standing side by side on Broadway at West 42nd Street on the south end of Times Square.

In the foreground is the Knickerbocker Hotel, completed in 1906 on the southeast corner of Broadway and 42nd. In the background is 4 Times Square (formerly known as the Condé Nast Building), completed in 2000 on Broadway between West 42nd and West 43rd Streets.

I liked this scene when I noticed it in 2009 because of the contrasts in styles, colors and textures it contained.

The Knickerbocker Hotel is a 15-story building constructed in the Beaux-Arts style that influenced much of the nation’s architecture in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The building, which uses red brick with terra-cotta details, was built by John Jacob Astor IV and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and designated a New York City Landmark in 1988.

4 Times Square is a 48-story, 809-foot skyscraper built from with glass and steel. It’s the 12th tallest building in New York City and the 41st tales in the United States.

While the styles differ, both buildings have gone through changes in names and uses through the long history of the Knickerbocker Hotel and the shorter history of 4 Times Square.

The Knickerbocker was built as a luxury hotel, but closed before 1920 because of financial decline. It was converted to offices in 1920, which resulted in a name change to The Knickerbocker Building. Two decades later it became home to Newsweek magazine and became the Newsweek Building from 1940 to 1959. In 1980, after major renovations converted the building to garment showrooms and offices, it became known as 1466 Broadway and, at times, as 6 Times Square. The building’s history came full circle between 2013 and 2015 when it was converted back into a hotel and again named the Knickerbocker Hotel.

4 Times Square was constructed as the Condé Nast building, home of the Condé Nast magazine publishing company. The building was renamed to 4 Times Square in late 2014 when Condé Nast moved its operations to the new One World Trade Center building.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.