By Carter B. Horsley
In the days before environmental
concerns become popular, it would not be unusual to see large
puffs of black smoke rising from buildings in the city from incinerators
in apartment buildings.
Nowadays such flagrant air
polluting is pretty rare in the city, thanks, no doubt, to the
wonders of recycling.
Smaller puffs of grey smoke,
however, are sometimes discernible from chimneys in buildings
with wood-burning fireplaces, perhaps the most desirable apartment
In some cases, roofs may have
a large chimney or two with multiple flues. In others, there are
individual mini-chimneys, often with domed caps.
While the city has no equal
to the great French Renaissance chimneys of the royal Chateau
de Chambord in France, it does have a couple that are notable.
Perhaps the most impressive sits atop the great Crown Building
erected by August Heckscher and designed by Warren & Wetmore
in 1921 on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.
Its cylindrical shape is gilded and very ornamental and it is
all the more interesting because it is not atop the office building's
great pyramidal roof, fitted with numerous oculi, but at the southwest
base of the pyramidal roof.
A more visible chimney is at
the pinnacle of the Carlyle Hotel on the northeast corner of Madison
Avenue at 76th Street. The chimney, shown above from the northwest,
is a little unusual in that its relatively thin, black "pipe"
extends upwards, almost half-heartedly and sneakily, just a bit
from the very prominent gilded "bump" on the building's
One of the city's great skyline
buildings even though it has been dwarfed by some nearby towers,
the 37-story Hampshire House at 150 Central Park South is noted
for its spectacular, steeply-pitched copper roof with two tall
chimneys that harkened to those atop the Savoy Plaza Hotel that
formerly occupied the site of the current General Motors Building
on Fifth Avenue.
At 123 West 15th Street, Colin
and Pamela Rath are planning a residential mid-block building
that has numerous "dancing" chimneys on its bulbous
Even humble chimneys are a
comforting sign that some people in the city can be warmed by
a stoked hearth, an image perhaps not as merry as Santa Claus
but very cheery nonetheless.