The Cairo

May 1, 2011

A few nice American League Central images I found:

The Cairo
American League Central
Image by dbking
Thomas Franklin Schneider, architect of some 2,000 DC buildings, built the Cairo in 1894 near the edge of Washington City (Boundary Street — Florida Avenue). The 1893 Transportation Building at the Chicago World’s Fair inspired him. Originally the hotel had a ballroom, bowling alley, billiard room, coffee shop, and rooftop garden. It received water from an underground spring. Visitors to the rooftop frequently dropped pebbles to the street below, causing horses to give carriage riders the scare of their lives. This led to the closing of food on the roof after just three years.
Source: Wikipedia

The Cairo apartment building, located at 1615 Q Street NW in Washington, D.C., is a landmark in the Dupont Circle neighborhood and the District’s tallest residential building.

The 164-feet-tall brick building was designed by architect Thomas Franklin Schneider and completed in 1894 as the city’s first "residential skyscraper". Today, the Cairo is a condominium building, home to renters and owners.

The Egyptian theme of the building is stamped across its Moorish and Romanesque Revival features. Gargoyles perch high above the front entrance; some are winged griffins staring down from cornices, and others are more lighthearted. Along the first floor are elephant heads, which look left and right from the stone window sills of the front windows and interlock trunks at the corners of the entrance arch. On the fourth floor are both dragon and dwarf crosses. The stone facade is carved with an inlaid design that hints at more exotic Middle Eastern origins. The opposing design elements produce a harmony described as follows in the AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C.: "for all its quirks, the awkward tower reigns as one of Washington’s guilty pleasures

The building set off the firestorm over building height, and led to the law that has kept most of D.C.’s skyline low. Neighbors demanded a "wind test" be conducted to prove it wouldn’t fall, complained that it blocked their light, and were terrified of fire — no ladder could reach the top. The hotel was known for ballroom and mambo dancing on Saturdays. The room rates in 1953-54 were .00 per day for a single room with a private bath, breakfast was 45 cents, lunch 85 cents, and dinner .15. One resident reported that the last Queen of Hawaii lived in the Cairo while lobbying the U.S. to reclaim her throne.

By the 1960s, the hotel was a rundown brothel, with a telephone operator who listened in on calls for entertainment (the old plug-in switchboard).

A survey of in 1997 showed most residents were American (84%), from 21 different states, D.C., and Puerto Rico; 16% reported being from 11 countries and Palestine, and 42% reported being fluent in at least one other language besides English; 58% speak English only. Altogether, residents reported speaking a total of 15 languages. 65% of owners reported living in D.C. ten years or more.

Today, the Cairo is a condo building and has once again reclaimed its rightful place among the beautifully restored buildings in Washington DC

At 12 floors, the Cairo towers above nearby buildings. At its opening in 1894, the building’s height caused a tremendous uproar among local residents, who dubbed it "Schneider’s Folly" and lobbied Congress to limit the height of residential buildings in the District of Columbia to prevent more "skyscrapers" from being built. The resulting 1899 Heights of Buildings Act has kept the city’s skyline unusually low for an American city.

Around 1900, the building was renamed the Cairo Hotel and became a center of D.C. society, with its ballroom frequently the center of social and political gatherings. Its guests and tenants have included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Edison, and other powerful political figures.

On March 15, 1897, the deposed queen of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani, stayed in the Cairo while she lobbied President Grover Cleveland for compensation for the U.S. overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in January 1893. On February 15, 1905, the Cairo swirled with intrigue when, during a labor union strike, painter J. Frank Hanby fell to his death when the ropes supporting him broke. The ropes were found to have been cut by acid, leading to a grand jury investigation into the cause of death and many high profile articles in The Washington Post. The high society of Washington often held meetings at the Cairo Hotel, such as that between the Woman’s National Democratic League and a Congressman from New Mexico in 1913.

The December 2, 1923 Washington Post contained an advertisement for the Cairo Hotel that read:

The CAIRO HOTEL. Absolutely Fireproof. A hotel which has demonstrated its value in years of service to a discriminating clientele. Retains with bath, per day Rooms with detached bath, per day Two-room suites, per day Three-room suites, per day & parties visiting the National Capitol and families desiring to make Washington their temporary or permanent home, the Cairo Hotel offers exceptional advantages of location and environment, construction and arrangement, equipment and management. – James T. Howard, Manager

In June 1940, a newspaper headline reported "Two Bandits Rob Cairo Hotel, Escape in Chase".

A party held on the night of November 30, 1940, featured 500 canaries singing beneath the chandeliers in the grand ballroom. The building also had a bowling alley and a coffee shop.

In 1954, the Cairo Hotel hosted Sunday mambo parties, played by Buddy Rowell and promoted by Maurice Gervitsch, known as "Groggy". The dances were featured a 12-piece band, and (in segregated 1950s D.C.) had mainly white and Jewish attendance. These glamorous and sensational days lasted into the late 1950s.

The building was sold in 1957 as a 267-room hotel, and on October 12 the new owners announced plans to spend 0,000 refurbishing the structure. In 1958, a fire caused by an electrical short-circuit on the sixth floor led to ,000 worth of damage, but no structural problems.

The Cairo began to decline during the 1960s, when it was inhabited by squatters, prostitutes, drug addicts, student protesters, criminals, and even feral dogs. In June 1964, the FBI tracked a 24-year-old escaped convict to the building.

In 1966, the D.C. Department of Health considered leasing the run-down building for use as a rehabilitation center for alcoholics. After a series of failed attempts at renovation, including a closure on August 7, 1972, the building was restored in 1974 under the leadership of architect Arthur Cotton Moore. It was converted into condominiums in 1979.

At the building’s centennial celebration in October 1994, Ross Elementary school students sang "Happy Birthday" to the building in thanks for a ,000 donation made by the Cairo Condominium Unit Owners Association. Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans read a proclamation declaring it "Cairo Day" in DC. Of the building, he said, "It is a real monument in the area."

The U-shaped building surrounds a Zen stone garden courtyard. The stone front steps lead up through a glass foyer into a marble-floored lobby with Egyptian columns and a lounge. A large mirror and photographs of the building’s construction and other contemporary scenes adorn the lobby’s eastern wall. Two square columns of red-orange marble anchor the space in front of two elevators, which serve the tenants of the 12 floors above. Between the elevators is a stairway that leads down through double glass doors into the central courtyard.

At the two interior southern corners are wide staircases of marble and wrought iron that span the height of the building. Some sections of hallways are marble-floored, and each apartment’s outside door handle is a marble orb. Apartments have exposed red brick walls, and range in size from small studios to multi-level two- and three-bedroom units.

The Cairo is in the center of the Dupont Circle neighborhood, and its rooftop deck provides one of the most expansive views of the District’s northwest skyline. Visible locations include the Washington National Cathedral, Georgetown, the Washington Monument, the Capitol, and The Catholic University of America. It sits three blocks east of the Dupont Circle Metro station, near restaurants, bars, and shops along 17th Street.

On September 2, 2007, the Board of Directors of the Cairo Condominium voted to approve a .1 million brick repointing project. Atlantic Company, a construction and restoration engineering firm, began the brick repair work in November 2007, and it is expected to conclude by April 2009. The company will replace deteriorated, defective, and mismatched brick masonry, remove and repoint mortar joints of all exterior walls, install control joints in certain locations to address wall expansion, and patch and repair exterior stonework. To pay for the construction, the owners of the condominiums were each assessed a special fee – ranging from ,980 to over ,000 per owner – proportional to the size of their units.

On May 29, 2007, a fire emptied the Cairo of its roughly 400 residents. At least nine emergency vehicles responded to the blaze. The fire heavily damaged one of the central units of the tenth floor, and some nearby units were left with water damage. Because each unit is isolated from the others by firewalls, the fire was entirely contained to a single unit.

NYC – LES: Seward Park – Togo statue
American League Central
Image by wallyg
Opened on October 17, 1903, after the City of New York assumed operations of nine privately sponsored playgrounds operated by the Outdoor Recreation League (ORL), Seward Park became the first permanent, municipally built playground in the United States. According to newspaper reports, when its gates opened, an estimated 20,000 children rushed in. With its cinder surfacing, fences, recreation pavilion, and play and gymnastic equipment, the facility became a model for playground programming and design.

The city had acquired this land by condemnation in 1897 but due to lack of funds, it remained largely unimproved until the intervention of the ORL. In addition to the playground, the 1903 plan featured a large running track with an open play area in the center and a children’s farm garden. Curving paths and a north-south mall divided the park into recreational areas. The limestone and terra cotta Seward Park Pavilion was equipped with marble baths, a gymnasium, and meeting rooms. Rocking chairs were placed on the broad porch for the use of mothers tending their small children.

Seward Park underwent a major transformation in the 1930s and 1940s. A sliver of land on the east side was surrendered to the city. The Schiff Fountain (1895), designed by architect Arnold W. Brunner, was moved from nearby Rutgers Park to Seward Park in 1936. It was the gift of Jacob H. Schiff, a banker and philanthropist, to the people of the Lower East Side. Seward Park’s pavilion was demolished and a new recreation building was erected in 1941.

The 1999 renovation of Seward Park has revived several features from the 1903 plan. There is a new center oval with a large spray shower and marble mosaic map of the neighborhood. The various quotations by historic local residents were provided by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Other revivals of the park’s original appearance include fencing modeled after the historic fences, as well as period lighting and site furniture. The new design also considers the legacy of park namesake William Henry Seward (1801-1872), an American statesman. As senator from New York (1849-1861), Seward was an outspoken critic of slavery. As Secretary of State under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, he arranged the 1867 purchase of Alaska from Russia. This famous bargain, once denounced as “Seward’s folly,” inspired playground equipment such as the seal spray shower and Mount McKinley play unit.

Standing proudly in park’s tot lot is Chris “Snowcat” Crowley’s bronze statue of the husky named Togo. A contemporary of Balto (whose statue stands in Central Park), Togo played a heroic role in the 1925 dash to bring an antidiptheria serum to Nome, Alaska.