Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A&P Heir and Me—and Many Others

The "good grey" New York Times almost always has something to spark one's imagination or memory—in addition to the important news of the day, of course. In yesterday's edition there was an obituary of the A&P heir Huntington Hartford, who managed to squander the family millions most efficiently while probably having a lot of fun doing so:

The obit reminded me of an experience, evidently common among my young female contemporaries, in my college days. HH had built his hideous Gallery of Modern Art,  one of Edward Durrell Stone's more unfortunate creations, on the south rim of Columbus Circle. The art in there was pretty bad, since HH, as you can read in the Times piece, eschewed any of the then currently respected trends. I paid a visit to the windowless gallery one day and was accosted by an older, well-dressed man who asked me how I liked the pictures. I don't remember my reply, but he then confessed that he was the owner of the gallery and tried to pick me up. I managed to scoot away and later had an amusing anecdote to tell my girlfriends: "Huntington Hartford tried to pick me up! Ha ha!" Sometime later, my mother informed me that a friend of hers had actually bragged (the woman was a rather naïve provincial) that HH had tried to pick her daughter up in his gallery. My mother, highly amused and slightly more worldly, said, "My daughter, too!" Apparently every reasonably attractive young woman of the era was fair game. Perhaps HH had even built the gallery to attract new feminine possibilities. Certainly a classier joint than a pickup bar at any rate, windows or no.

Epilogue: In September 2008, after a reported $90 million renovation, the building is scheduled to reopen as The Museum of Arts & Design. I think it's supposed to have windows this time.

1 comment:

willow said...

Teehee!! Yes, maybe that is the reason he built it and designed it with no windows! Cute.