A weekend in old New York
Bendel, Bergdorf and Barneys
The three Bs – the classic New York shopping trifecta – are a perennial haunt of the ladies who lunch. Henri Bendel was the first retailer to bring Chanel to the states, and its signature brown-and-white striped bags still hold a who’s who of the season’s it-accessories. Bergdorf Goodman is housed in the former Vanderbilt mansion, and its dressing rooms rival (in size and décor) most New York apartments. And Barneys is the classic New York rags-to-riches story: Barney Pressman opened a store by pawning his wife’s engagement ring in 1923, launching what is now one of the world’s most trendsetting purveyors of luxury goods.
Legendary financier Pierpont Morgan commissioned this private library in 1906 to house his collection of first-editions, manuscripts, drawings and prints. Now, it is one of the most important collections of printed material in the world. A Gutenberg bible, Thoreau’s Walden Pond journal and original Beethoven compositions are all housed in a complex of architecturally diverse buildings, ranging from an Italianate brownstone to an airy 2006 Renzo Piano addition.
Manhattan’s Upper East Side was once made up of forest and farmland, populated only by the country estates of New York’s earliest moneyed set. The last of the remaining manses on the East River shoreline is Gracie Mansion. Now the official residence of the mayor of New York (although Mayor Bloomberg chooses to live at his townhouse on East 79th Street), the gracious Federal-style home sits in the leafy Carl Schurz Park at 88th Street and is a time capsule of early American furniture and decor, from whale-oil lighting fixtures to rare 19th-century settees.
Many of the works in this elaborate Beaux Arts museum are still in the same location as when this was the private residence of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. Stroll through richly-panelled rooms and over exquisite Persian rugs while viewing the collection of European masterworks, French decorative arts and Limoges enamel.