Architect Diana Goldstein walks the interviewer through the founding of the Action Group for Better Architecture in New York and the people involved in the efforts to save Pennsylvania Station.
Architect Diana Goldstein (formerly Diana Kirsch) was one of the founders of the Action Group for Better Architecture in New York [AGBANY], a group of architects opposed to the destruction of Penn Station. The group held a picket-line protest in front of the station in August 1962 and lobbied City officials over the following year to try to thwart the demolition and raise awareness of the need for legal protections for historic landmarks. In this 2003 interview, Goldstein discusses the inception of AGBANY. Much of the interview consists of a conversation between Goldstein, AGBANY member Joan Gruzen, and artist Mon Levinson, as they recount their memories of the people and events surrounding the protest, prompted by photos of the picketers and a comprehensive listing of approximately 300 individuals identified by the New York Preservation Archive Project as having been involved in AGBANY. The interview was conducted by Archive Project president Anthony C. Wood in October 2003, three days before the Archive Project held a program featuring many veterans of the Penn Station protests to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the demolition.
Diana Goldstein, Session 1
Q: This is an oral history with Diana Goldstein on October 25, 2003. With Joan Gruzen observing us. And Marguerite is present.
Well, I have a list of questions to start, and then we can see where it takes us. I also brought some things [newspaper photos] just to show you, that I thought you might find interesting, and might be able to shed some light on.
So when and how did it first come to your attention that Penn Station was threatened?
Now let me put a caveat with all of this. I can’t remember what I did last week. So I have to say, I feel guilty asking people their memories from forty years ago. Feel free to just say, “That’s ridiculous. There’s no way I can remember.” With that caveat—
Goldstein: First of all, my name was Diana Kirsch in those days, so a lot of people in New York would remember me that way.
Q: Is that the maiden name?
Goldstein: No, no. I’ve been married several times. My e-mail address has my original name— “Evenary.”
Q: I wondered what that was.
Goldstein: It’s a Hebrew translation of Lowenstein. “Lion-stone.” “Even” is a stone, and “Ari” is a lion.
All my friends were architects, or architects’ wives. It’s been that way ever since I left South Africa and went to England. I then came from England and went to Baltimore, from Baltimore to New York, and, then finally, to San Francisco. Always, I’ve found that the people who were the most similar in the world, including the Japanese architects with whom I supervised construction of the Japan Pavilion here at the New York World’s Fair in ’64. It doesn’t matter how different the cultures are, the values of architects, all over the world, are the same. Whereas the doctors and people are not, because I was married to a doctor. I always mixed with architects all the time, and so it was in the air. We all knew that Penn Station was being threatened.
I’m not a joiner at all. I didn’t belong to the AIA [American Institute of Architects]. I did join the AIA once, and that was because my husband, who was a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, had a partner who was running for the presidency of the AIA. I joined so that I could vote for him. However, I also did design the AIA offices, and I was on their lecture committee. I give what I can, but I’m not a joiner.
But it was in the air. My last job before I left New York was with Oppenheimer, Brady & Lehrecke. Oppenheimer is a joiner. He belonged to societies and things like that. He’s a very nice, gentle person. He was going to a lunchtime meeting of the AIA—the Young Architects of the AIA. So he said to me, “Diana, why don’t you come with me to this?” I think he wanted me to join the Young Architects of the AIA, which I would normally never want to do. A bell rang in my head, and I said, “What are the Young Architects of the AIA doing about Penn Station?” It was just in the air and we all knew about it. There must have been a recession at that time, because we knew that the unions wanted to tear it down and build something new, because they wanted work. So once I heard that I said, “Okay, I’ll come,” and promptly called Peter [Samton] and Jordan [Gruzen] at their office, and said, “Come with me. We’re going to go to the AIA meeting.”
Q: Now where were they working at the time?
Goldstein: They were working for Jordan’s father, I think.
Q: Oh, that’s right.
Goldstein: Peter had previously worked for Marcel Breuer. When I worked for Abe Geller, whom you may know—
Goldstein: —and we had an important client coming in, we’d call Peter and he’d bring all the gang down from Breuer’s office to pretend they worked in Abe’s office. We were a clique, really.
Goldstein: We were about seven couples; that’s how I met Joan. We used to go skiing together. They were my buddies, Jordan and Peter. I called them and said, “Come to the AIA. We’ll ask them what they’re going to do about Penn Station.” We were wanting to twist their arm.
So we went to this meeting and we kept asking these provocative questions. They said—these were the young architects—that the AIA had decided not to do anything about it because the unions wanted the work. There was one preservationist—you’ll see it in the material I brought for you—who said, “We don’t need to preserve old buildings because we can make great new ones.” I was really very disgusted, really. Really upset that, to get work—although I can’t imagine what it’s like not to have work—that they would consider tearing down this great iron and glass construction, because I love railroad stations.
We were leaving and I was feeling sort of, “Well, that’s it!” And then I thought, “Why is it? Why don’t we do something about it?” So I said to Peter and Jordan, “Why don’t we form our own group, and do something about it ourselves?” That’s how it started.
I’ll say this. I have thousands of great ideas all the time. I was used as a person to generate ideas. But it took the executive branch of Peter and Jordan to carry it out. We were very fortunate, because Jordan had behind him his father’s firm [Gruzen & Partners], and I think Norval White was working in his father’s firm. He was a senior designer or something like that. It wasn’t as though he went back to some office where he was just some young employee. He had some clout and he must have talked to Norval. So we had someone who was more sophisticated than we were politically, and who was probably much better known in the profession. We knew we had to raise money.
With Jordan’s clout and the two of them together, and with me as the instigator, we made a good team.
Q: In trying to figure out who the working core of AGBANY was: Peter Samton, certainly—
Goldstein: Peter, Jordan, Norval, and I started it.
Q: I’ve heard people mention Norman Jaffe’s name and Elliot Willensky’s name, and also Costas. I won’t try to pronounce his name because I’ll get it wrong—like “Merides.”
Goldstein: I remember Elliott and Costas but I don’t remember what they looked like. As older men, I’m not sure I’m going to recognize them. I hope you’ll introduce me to them.
Q: Well, I can introduce you to Costas. We lost Elliott a few years ago. So we won’t have to introduce you.
Goldstein: Norman Jaffe was a real social climber. I met Norman Jaffe at a party after I’d been really mean to another boyfriend and I said, “I’ve just met this really nice person, he’s the kind of person you would never be nasty to.” I was wrong [laughs]. He used to date me—we dated—and then, I remember we walked past the Polish Social Center or something. He says to me, “I know why I don’t like you—you’re Polish.” His mother was Polish and his father was Lithuanian, and the Jewish Lithuanians and Poles feel themselves to be very different. The Polish people are much tougher. Norman joined afterwards. He saw something going and tried to be nice to me at that point because he saw that I might have some use.
Q: So from your perspective, then, it was really you, Peter Samton, Jordan Gruzen, and Norval, who were the starting force. That’s good to know.
Goldstein: Other people joined, and I think there may even have been more than just those, athough that was the core. They joined afterward, but the idea came from Peter, Jordan and me, after an AIA meeting. Then Norval—they must have gone right back to the office and dragged Norval into it. Norval was wonderful, because he really knew how to do this kind of stuff.
Q: Who came up with the name Action Group for Better Architecture in New York?
Goldstein: AGBANY? I have no idea. But it was similar to Albany, which is why I liked it.
Q: Similar to Albany, as in the capital?
Goldstein: As in the capital of New York. AGBANY and Albany had the same ring. I have no idea who thought of it. Give it to all of us.
Q: Let me ask you, when you pulled that group together, did you really think you might be able to save the station?
Goldstein: No. I knew that we couldn’t.
Q: So it was more of a political, kind of a moral statement?
Goldstein: It was a moral statement. I thought about this, and I thought, why is it moral? I tried to put Penn Station into perspective and I thought, say my aunt was kidnapped and I had the ransom money and I did nothing about it. How could I live after that? I say my aunt, not my child or my mother, but you know. This was a great building. It wasn’t the greatest building, but it was a terrific building. I love industrial archaeology—they call it industrial archaeology—bridges, aqueducts, the glass and iron railroad stations in England. You couldn’t not try to save Penn Station! I felt that the architectural profession—not just a few architects—but the profession owed it to their own history to do something about it.
I felt if they didn’t do something about it, what was the future for all other great buildings. We knew that we would lose. We wanted to protest, which is why we had the pickets. We wanted to change the climate.
Q: Let’s talk about the picketing for a minute. August 2, 1962. If my research is correct, you had a press conference that day. You had the picketing, and you had an ad appear in the New York Times, tying it all together.
Goldstein: Norval must have done all that.
Q: Can you tell us how those events came to be?
Goldstein: I’m sure it was at the committee, where we thought, “How can we get the most attention?” Because we needed attention and we knew we were going to get high-profile architects there.
Q: That’s another thing. You got some wonderful people.
Goldstein: They all objected to Penn Station coming down.
Q: Philip Johnson, Aline Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Jane Jacobs, Robert Venturi, Norman Mailer—
Goldstein: The picture here is of the guy I used to work for. That’s Ulrich Franzen, and that’s Peter behind him. I never was in that line.
Q: You never picketed?
Goldstein: I stood back there, giving people leaflets and organizing.
Q: In terms of who came up with the strategy of “Let’s do the picketing, let’s do that,” was that Norval, or did it come out of group discussions?
Goldstein: The meeting group discussions and then we’d have minutes of the meeting. But somehow I have the feeling that Philip Johnson was helpful to us even before this picketing. He may even have given us money. We collected money. He might have. We knew we’d have people like that.
Q: Years ago I was talking with Elliott Willensky, who I knew to some degree, and he gave me a copy of what I think is an early donor list of AGBANY.
Goldstein: [Looking at photos] Barney Gruzen, that was Jordan’s father. Oppenheimer, Brady, and Lehrecke, that’s the guys that I worked for. A lot of the people who worked there came to the picket line.
Gruzen: Sofia Mumford.
Q: Yes. Sofia Mumford was the wife of Louis Mumford.
Goldstein: Norman Klein. He was a great guy. I dated him too [laughs].
Q: This list is getting more interesting [laughs].
Goldstein: I first met him when I came to New York and I worked for Stein [phonetic]. They were doing a [unclear]. I worked at night and Dick Stein’s wife, who was an architect, wouldn’t let them hire me.
Q: Now was Norman Klein an architect then?
Goldstein: Yes. He worked with Skidmore [Owings & Merrill]. He’s a terrific, wonderful guy. [Looking at photograph] Lloyd Siegel worked for Gruzen. Helge Westermann, he had his own firm. Edgar Tafel was a well-known architect.
Q: He’s still with us, and I think he’s going to be there too.
Goldstein: Abe Rothenberg; Giorgio Cavaglieri was well known. Thad Kusmierski—he’s a friend of mine—I should tell him about this. He lives in Berkeley now.
Q: Was Giorgio very involved, do you remember?
Goldstein: I don’t think so. I don’t really remember. Ed Barnes, Curtis and Davis [phonetic]. Panos Kyrtsis—another old boyfriend.
I’ll tell you something. I called a lot of my friends and a lot of my old boyfriends and I remember standing back and watching the picket line going around. I turned to someone with my macabre sense of humor and I said, “You know, when you come to the end of your life, they tell you that you see your life flashing in front of you. This is it. There’s my ex-husband. There’s my ex-boyfriend. There’s my current boyfriend.”
Q: I hope you’ll let us keep this in, ultimately, because what’s interesting about this is, even today, when we’re trying to get a turnout, to save a building or something, you turn to the people you know you have access to. All these innocent civilians are often pulled into the front lines.
Goldstein: Well, they all knew that I cared about Penn Station. These are all people who were once important in my life.
Panos was a wonderful guy. He subsequently committed suicide. He was a marvelous guy. He had studied naval architecture. I’ll tell you one other thing. There was somebody there at Penn Station that day who could have been my future, but I never met him. Three days before that march, somebody called me up in the morning and he said, “I’m doing a survey to find out how many redheads there are in your family.” I said, “That’s pretty weird? Who are you doing the survey for?” He told me he’d seen me walking down the street during my lunch hour with a package in my hand addressed to somebody with my return address on it. So he tracked me down, and he wanted to meet me.
Q: So this was a come-on line.
Goldstein: Yes, he wanted to meet me. So I said, “Sure, I’ll meet you. I’ll meet you at Penn Station at 5:00 PM on Thursday.” I think it was a Thursday, I’m not sure. He said okay, and we had that arrangement. He came to the protest.
Q: So he came to the march?
Goldstein: I have no idea. If he did, when he saw 300 people there, he must have been pissed [laughs].
Q: It was a larger date than he had envisioned.
Goldstein: [Looking at photograph] Jim Burns. Jim Burns was—am I thinking of the right Jim Burns? There was someone who worked in—
Q: Let’s see, the research we had—news editor, progressive architect, believed to be living in San Francisco—
Goldstein: Yes. Of course. That’s right.
Q: Could not locate a current address. This is our master list.
Goldstein: He was older than we were, so he might not be around anymore. But he was a writer. That’s right, Jim Burns.
Gruzen: Jay Fleischmann worked for Gruzen, and he’s a cousin of Jordan’s.
Goldstein: So you can see, we all got our pals.
Goldstein: I even gave some money!
Gruzen: You gave $10.00!
Goldstein: That’s a lot of money!
Q: This was forty years ago. You could buy something with $10.00.
Goldstein: [Reading list of donors] Peter Blake. You know who he was? He was an architect. He was also a writer for—
Q: Architectural Forum?
Goldstein: Yes. He also designed a Boston building that won an award. He was quite a good architect.
Q: Okay. Great.
Goldstein: Is Chet Wisniewski was going to be there? They had offices in the same building as Abe [W.] Geller.
Q: Oh, so you knew them—
Goldstein: I knew them. Wisniewski married our secretary from Davis & Brody. And Ian Ferguson. Oh, Raymond Rubinow.
Q: Did you remember Ray at all? I actually knew Ray.
Goldstein: I think he worked with me at Geller, but I’m not sure.
Q: Well, Ray Rubinow, the reason I know him is I used to work for the J.M. Kaplan Fund. He used to work for J.M., many, many years before I was there.
Goldstein: Yes, the J.M. Kaplan Fund. I knew of them through Geller.
Q: That would make sense.
Goldstein: Peter Samton, Ralph Walker. There’s another old boyfriend, Jeff Aronin. You remember him?
Gruzen: Oh god.
Levinson: I knew him from high school.
Goldstein: He was weird.
Q: According to the research, this is Jeffrey Aronin, deceased, 11/21/86.
Gruzen: Really? He died?
Q: That was a source from the New York State Registry of Licensed Architects. Our researcher was tenacious.
Goldstein: He [unclear] up to the AIA board. He was very strange. But he was also a radio personality. He had a radio program.
Q: Oh, really? Oh, interesting.
Levinson: I didn’t think he was South African.
Goldstein: No, he wasn’t.
Levinson: Then he was English.
Goldstein: English. I think he was English, yes.
Q: Okay. Great. Great.
Gruzen: This is so interesting.
Goldstein: Yes, it is, isn’t it? Bob Friedman. I don’t know—
Q: I’m just going to add, for the purposes of the person who has to transcribe this tape, that in addition to the voice of Joan Gruzen, in this conversation, we’ve been joined by Mon Levinson. Thank you for joining us.
Goldstein: John Johanssen. He was a famous architect. He was a very good architect and a very nice man. I don’t know if he’s still alive. John Johanssen. He designed the U.S. Embassy in Dublin [crosstalk].
Q: Let’s see, under John Johanssen we have—we don’t have a lot of information.
Goldstein: You can get it from architectural magazines from the past.
Q: Does he come up more in the Architectural Record?
Gruzen: Well, he’s one of the better architects of that time.
Goldstein: He was also a friend of Philip Johnson’s.
Q: We do have an asterisk, which I believe means he is deceased.
Gruzen: He’s the one who, when—what’s the man’s name? Phil Donahue tore down his house.
Q: He may not be deceased. I may be reading my code wrong.
Goldstein: He was quite a lot older than I was, so he’s likely to be deceased. But he designed the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, he’s a well-known architect. Jane Working moved to the East Bay. She married someone else. She worked in Peter’s office for Breuer.
Q: “No relevant contact information. Cannot determine if she’s deceased, cannot locate a current address. She’s among the unknown.
Goldstein: I might have her address somewhere, if I come across it in my address book—
Q: Oh, yes, please.
Goldstein: She’s changed her name.
Q: That may explain why we couldn’t—
Gruzen: Sandy Malter. Mon knows him. Sandy Malter. He’s alive.
Levinson: He works for Harry Weese.
Gruzen: We knew him too.
Goldstein: We were friendly with Harry Weese.
Q: The name Janet Sachs doesn’t mean anything to you, does it?
Goldstein: I only remember my old boyfriends [laughs]. [crosstalk] Chester Rapkin, that’s a familiar name, too.
Q: Chester was—
Levinson: He was in the city.
Gruzen: Oh, he was a city planner.
Q: He was a professor of city planning at the University of Pennsylvania. Actually, there were a number of people—
Goldstein: That’s why I know his name.
Q: There were a number of people from the University of Pennsylvania—
Gruzen: That’s because Jordan in 1960 went through the master’s program.
Goldstein: And Peter. No, not Peter.
Gruzen: Just Jordan.
Goldstein: And Claude. Claude went to Penn. I used to go down there for weekends. In fact, he was teaching at Rensselaer and doing a class at Penn and he broke down when he was at Penn.
Gruzen: Was he in the master’s program?
Goldstein: Yes. Yes.
Gruzen: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Gruzen: Jordan was there in 1960.
Goldstein: Yes, and they were all there because of Lou Kahn. This reminds me that I just saw a wonderful, wonderful movie about Kahn.
Q: Oh, yes. Somebody’s been making that movie.
Goldstein: It’s “New Yorker Films”. I saw it, and it’s wonderful.
Q: So that would explain how people regularly reach out to Louis Kahn, and pull him in. Through that connection.
Goldstein: Right. Also, Denise has been my friend for a long time.
Q: Now we’re talking about Denise—
Gruzen: Scott Brown.
Goldstein: Ulrich Franzen. I used to work for him, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have called. Franzen, they spelled his name wrong.
Q: [laughs] On a historic document.
Gruzen: Now is this one of your boyfriends, too?
Goldstein: Cash? [laughs] Cash gave $1.00.
Q: Cash gave $1.00, not a big contributor here.
Goldstein: I’ll tell you, some of these big firms, like Whittlesey & Conklin, and people like that, may have been approached by Norval or even by Philip Johnson. I think Philip Johnson called some of these bigger names.
Q: Does the name Robert Weinberg mean anything to you? He was a planner, active in Greenwich Village?
Goldstein: The name sounds familiar.
Q: He was more of a city planner type than an architect type, so he probably would have been in a different circle. I was just curious. For other reasons, he’s someone we’ll be researching for another project.
Well, that’s great. There’s another list I’ll show you, on that.
So, okay, in a sense, the strategy evolved out of the group meetings of AGBANY?
Goldstein: We needed to raise some money. We knew that Philip Johnson was on our side, so we obviously approached him to give us some money.
Q: We actually called his office and hoped he could be with us, but his health was still day-to-day, in a sense. I also know, at least I’ve seen in the papers we found, an empty petition sheet, of a set of petitions that you got signatures for. I’ve been trying to figure out where those petitions might have been sent. Who would have been the recipient of those? Would it have been the mayor?
Goldstein: Or the planning department?
Gruzen: There wasn’t a City Planning Commission in those days.
Q: No, there was a City Planning, but not a Landmarks. Your memory is right, but just the wrong one.
Goldstein: You know, the things I gave you quoted one of the preservation guys who said that, “We don’t need to keep these old buildings. We can make wonderful new buildings.” Every time I drive past Penn Station I say, “I thought he said we could make wonderful new buildings. ” I look at that and—
Q: That wasn’t one of them, that’s for sure [laughs].
Goldstein: Terrible. Terrible.
Q: From our research, we identified that there was the press conference, the picketing, the newspaper ad and the petition campaign. Can you think of other things AGBANY did, or you did, as a group, that we haven’t stumbled on?
Goldstein: What we really wanted was publicity. That’s all we wanted. We wanted publicity so that the general public could be made aware of the concerns that we had.
Gruzen: Now is this a myth, or did this really happen, that Peter Samton chained himself to a column?
Goldstein: It might have been, but you can see Peter’s walking around.
Q: There were two picketings, actually, that I’ve stumbled upon in our research. There was this one, the big one, which ranged, depending upon whose account, from 200 to 300. The day the demolition began, there were apparently five or six people who did a final picketing.
Gruzen: I was there, I think, because I remember Peter chaining himself to a column.
Q: A great tradition.
Goldstein: I remember this slogan: “Action, not apathy.”
Q: I know you said you weren’t actually in the picket line because you were kind of masterminding it, but—
Goldstein: No, I was just sort of doing work. I’m very good at being in the background doing work.
Q: Well, do you have any memories, or, Joan, do you have any memories of that actual picketing, on August second? It must have been powerful.
Goldstein: Oh, yes. I was standing, watching all these people. We were together.
Gruzen: I was also marching, but then I would stop and talk to Diana.
Q: Depending upon which newspaper account you read, or whatever, it seems to me there were from two hundred to three hundred people who showed up.
Gruzen: It felt like there were a lot of people there.
Goldstein: I remember them saying it was the “best-dressed picket line in New York.”
Q: Right. That may have been, in fact, in the New York Times editorial. Were you surprised by the turnout at the picketing?
Goldstein: No, no. We worked on it for quite a long time.
Q: Were you surprised by the coverage you got from it?
Goldstein: No, no. It was a significant event, and there’s absolutely no reason—and these were mostly architects, or people concerned with cultural things. It wasn’t the general public. We were trying to make the general public feel that this was not the right thing to do. Certainly, it did change the climate.
Q: The picketing happened. You got the New York Times editorial. You got wonderful coverage, the Village Voice had photos, a lot of Progressive Architecture—that wonderful spread of photographs. What happened after the picketing, do you remember? I know ultimately there was a delegation that got to meet with the mayor. At that point, I know that delegation included someone from the AIA and MAS [Municipal Art Society], so it must have jabbed them into some sort of greater involvement.
Goldstein: I don’t know what the AIA did after that, but Herb Oppenheimer might remember because he was part of it. I was not. But if we made them feel ashamed, I’d be very happy.
Q: Oculus—I think it was Oculus at the time—apparently did run a strong statement, at some point, on all of this.
Gruzen: Well, I think we never felt we would stop it from being torn down.
Goldstein: Oh, no. That’s written in Chris’s article. When he sent me his draft, and he said something about our optimism, I said, “Not at all. We were not optimistic.”
Q: In the ad itself, which we’re actually going to read from. I actually brought a copy of the ad for you, just to—you can’t get a good copy of it. When you go to the library, for some reason, this is all we have to work with. There are umpteen versions of this same ad. In the ad itself it says it may be too late to save Penn Station, but it’s not too late to save New York City. Indeed, it was right on both accounts.
Goldstein: The time had come to put a stop to the wanton destruction of our greatest buildings and to put a stop to wholesale vandalism. It does apply to other buildings. We knew we wouldn’t—Bruno Zevi’s name is here. Have you ever blown this up?
Q: In our research, what we did was we tried to find the name of anybody who did anything to save Penn Station.
Goldstein: Gerhard Kallman.
Q: So we took all those names. We took names of people who testified at the hearing, at the City Planning Commission, wrote letters to the New York Times, gave money to AGBANY, and combined a master list of about 300 names. Now we’ve never been able to find the petitions that were submitted.
Goldstein: Well, you know, Peter says he’s got a lot of material.
Q: I’ve talked to Peter, and he sent me some—odds are, people probably submitted the petitions and maybe didn’t keep copies. Or, if they kept copies, they were forty years ago and umpteen office moves or something. That we didn’t have access to, and that might expand the numbers, dramatically.
Goldstein: Do we have Denise Scott Brown here? We have Robert Venturi here.
Q: We have, let’s see here—
Goldstein: I don’t think they were married yet, at that stage.
Q: Do you have any idea who wrote the text for this ad? Does that ring a bell? Or was it a group effort?
Goldstein: It seems so familiar to me that I think, I must have written this, but, of course, I didn’t [laughs].
Q: It would have been a good thing to have written.
Goldstein: Sometimes I read stuff I have written, and I think, who wrote that?
Q: I’ve had that feeling. “Who did that?” Right?
Goldstein: It rings a familiar bell, as I read it. You see, we say it: “It may be too late to save Penn Station. Next month the wreckers will move in for the kill. But it’s not too late to save New York.”
Q: Correct on both accounts. The names here are great.
Goldstein: Andre Gineste. Oh, I’ve got stories about him.
Q: Preservation related stories? [laughs]
Now after the picketing, the next big event, at least on the historical record, is the January 3, 1963 City Planning Commission hearing. The proposal for the new Madison Square Garden— because it involved a sports arena, it needed a City Planning special permit, a special zoning permit. Since there was no functioning Landmarks Law or anything, that became a de facto—kind of the only opportunity to publicly talk about Penn Station. Do you have any memories of that event?
Goldstein: No. After we had lost, my purpose had been completed. Who were the architects of the Penn Station? Was it Luckman? Who was it?
Q: Charles Luckman or somebody? I’ve got a file with it in.
Levinson: He was a football player.
Goldstein: No, well, Luckman was—
Levinson: He had been.
Goldstein: He was also a very big-time architect. Knowing who the architects were, I didn’t expect very much to come out of it. I didn’t think it was going to be very good. Knowing how the unions had controlled, essentially, what was going to take place, I didn’t figure we’d have much chance to do anything about it.
Q: One of the things that’s always intrigued me—and that’s because I’ve kind of been shaped by the Watergate mentality, when I came of age—was that on the one hand you had James Felt as the City Planning Commissioner, at the time, who was ultimately very helpful in making the Landmarks Law happen. Then, of course, you had his brother, Irving, who was the one who was driving the bulldozer to destroy Penn Station. Every movement toward the Landmarks Law was just slightly behind what was leading to the demolition of Penn Station. The people I’ve talked to who knew James Felt, the City Planning commissioner, go on about the honorable nature of the man and that they couldn’t believe anything would have gone on there. Knowing it was a different time, with different behavioral traits, I find that possible. On the other hand, being raised on Watergate, I also wonder, what was going on here? Did you have any chats or feelings about that at all?
Goldstein: No. I don’t think I felt as involved in planning at the time. Now I would, because it has so much more impact, almost, than an individual building.
Goldstein: In those days, once we had lost, to go on with the fight did not seem to be—for me, it was a moral protest.
Q: When did you think you had lost?
Goldstein: The next month, when they tore it down!
Q: But, actually, see, you picketed in August of ’92.
Goldstein: Was that when we did it?
Q: Yes. I’m sorry, ’62.
Goldstein: I thought it was ’63.
Q: No, it was August of ’62. Then the hearing was January of ’63, then the demolition was October of ’63.
Goldstein: Wow. I didn’t know it took that long [crosstalk]. Was Abe Geller here? Did he sign this?
Q: I don’t remember seeing his name, actually.
Goldstein: I had worked for Abe Geller.
Q: We don’t have Abe Geller on our list of people, based on the ad or anything else.
Goldstein: Then my whole past wasn’t there. I mean, he wasn’t an old boyfriend, but he was someone I had worked for, and he was a wonderful man.
Gruzen: No, I don’t think he was part of it.
Goldstein: Jane Jacobs, we’ve got her signature here.
Q: Well, Jane actually marched. There’s a photograph of her in the Village Voice with, I think, Ray Rubinow, holding a sign.
Goldstein: I had actually met her. When I came to New York I came from Baltimore, where I worked for what is now RTKL [Rogers, Taliaferro, Kostritsky and Lamb]. It was Rogers, Taliaferro, and Lamb, in those days, and the “K” of RTKL was Kostritsky, George Kostritsky. He was working on the Charles Center in Baltimore at the time, and he was a great friend of Jane Jacobs. I remember coming up here—he was furious with her for writing that book, which has been so seminal.
Q: The Life and Death of Great American Cities?
Goldstein: Yes. He felt it was undermining planning in some way.
Q: Well, she did take her gloves off when it came to planners.
Goldstein: Yes. He wasn’t very pleased with her. But Romaldo Giurgola. He was a friend, also, of Abe Geller’s. He came to our office once when I worked for Geller. Claude and I worked for Geller. We were part of one of the winning teams of the Roosevelt Memorial competition. I remember Romaldo Giurgola coming and giving us a crit.
Gruzen: He was a friend. He was a teacher at Penn.
Goldstein: There’s a real Penn connection there, and a lot of it has to do with Jordan and with me, and the people we were connected to. You know, that thing that they say—that six degrees of separation leads you to Kevin Bacon—I say we only have to go two degrees here, because Kevin Bacon’s father was the planner in Philadelphia.
Q: Oh, that Bacon is Kevin Bacon’s father?
Gruzen: I didn’t know that.
Q: Boy, you’re right. We have one degree of separation.
Goldstein: We don’t have much separation at all. [crosstalk]
Q: That’s Kevin Bacon’s father?
Q: These are the photos that were in Progressive Architecture, most of which seem to be pretty well labeled. Although you might be able to—
Goldstein: Chet Wisniewski.
Q: Which one is Wisniewski? Is that the one with the glasses? I can’t figure out which one is Weinberg, and which one is—do you think that’s Weinberg?
Goldstein: John Johanssen was sort of balding, so this may be him, back there.
Q: We had hoped to be able to find “the baby,” to come back. But we believe she’s died. We did some research, and we think that’s the case.
Goldstein: That is Johannsen, see?
Q: In the glasses—do you think that’s Weinberg or Wisniewski?
Goldstein: I think it’s Weinberg.
Q: You think this is Weinberg, in the dark sunglasses.
Gruzen: Wisniewski was younger than that. Wisniewski would be younger than that. See, this is Wisniewski right here.
Goldstein: I couldn’t tell. I wouldn’t be able to recognize him at all.
It’s so funny, you have the name of Lou Morandi down as one of the people who are going to be recognized. He was working for Oppenheimer, Brady and Lehrecke. There was a guy called—
Q: He worked with, let’s see. This is Louis Rudolph Morandi?
Goldstein: I remember him as Lou Morandi.
Q: According to our research he’s living in Brooklyn as a licensed architect. He worked with Philip Johnson at the Seagram Building. Does that all make sense?
Goldstein: Yes, but he also worked for Oppenheimer, Brady & Lehrecke.
Q: Before that?
Goldstein: Oppenheimer, Brady and Lehrecke were all guys who worked for Philip Johnson. They broke away and formed their own firm.
Q: Did they break away happily, or unhappily, or—
Goldstein: I think it was happy. They still, obviously, had—
Q: A link.
Goldstein: Brady went on writing to each other, even when I left San Francisco. He was a wonderful, wonderful man. An older guy, Irish Catholic. Wonderful person. He was like a mentor, in terms of life.
Gruzen: Oh, he was great, John Brady.
Q: Let’s see. Deceased.
Goldstein: Oh, he died. I don’t know when he died. But he was a great guy.
Q: Actually, we should take a look at this roster, if you’ve got the patience [crosstalk]. This is the list that our intrepid researcher put together. We put the list together, then he went in seek of these people, to find out who was still—
Goldstein: He’s a friend of Peter’s, that’s why he was there—Larry Alpert. He was one of our ski buddies.
Q: He was a roommate of Peter Samton in the Navy.
Levinson: In the Navy? Pete was in the Navy?
Gruzen: No, no, he was in the Navy and Peter was not in the Navy. They roomed together when—
Q: He was a roommate of Peter Samton’s, and he was in the Navy but Peter wasn’t. [crosstalk]
Gruzen: At Fifty-Seventh Street and Sixth Avenue.
Goldstein: When I met my husband, Marc Goldstein, it was partly because Jordan kept saying we should meet. Jordan had been a roommate with Barry Brown, another of our ski buddies, who was Marc’s childhood friend. It’s all so incestuous, this whole thing. Where did you come into this, Mon?
Levinson: I didn’t really come into it.
Gruzen: No, he didn’t come into it.
Goldstein: I’m wondering, we all seemed to meet each other through—
Q: We’re really lucky you knew all these people, or it would have been a much smaller picket line. These are the names—the ones in this column signed the advertisement. The ones over in this column, we researched this and found out they were definitely architects. The ones with the “1” by their name are, we believe, to be deceased at the moment. Out of three hundred names about one hundred are deceased.
Goldstein: This guy had something to do with the radio—Jeff Aronin. Somehow you might get information about him.
Gruzen: He’s dead.
Q: He was an architect at one time.
Goldstein: He was an architect. I think he was talking about architecture on the radio.
Q: Oh, that would make sense.
Levinson: He pronounced his name “A-roh-nin.”
Q: Oh, that’s good to know. “A-roh-nin.”
Goldstein: Yes. Jeffrey “A-roh-nin.” I remember he looked like Marlon Brando but he [unclear]. [crosstalk]
Q: The other interesting thing was the link to Columbia, getting Jacques Barzun, who was the dean at Columbia, right?
Goldstein: Well, I’ll tell you what. Jacques Barzun was a great friend of Henry Gage. The woman I just went to see who’s 106, her name is Dot Gage. When I first came to New York, Dot and Henry, they were older than we were and we became very good friends. Henry introduced me to Berlioz, whom I fell in love with. Jacques Barzun had written a book about him. He was very connected.
Gruzen: So you got Jacques Barzun?
Goldstein: No, I don’t think so. I have a feeling that what they did was to get people who were known in New York—
Q: They probably reached out to see if they would sign on.
Goldstein: Jacques Barzun—what do you have there on him?
Q: Columbia University, American writer and educator, France, graduated Columbia. He was the dean, I believe, at Columbia.
Goldstein: He was a marvelous mind.
Q: He would have been a prominent name to have.
Levinson: He was a philosopher, basically.
Goldstein: Yes, but he wrote a biography of Berlioz, who was a great composer. I certainly could have asked Henry to get him to sign something.
Q: We’ve got Max Bond, which is interesting.
Gruzen: Max Bond was with Barney Gruzen at the time.
Q: That’s good to know.
Levinson: Where is he now? I just saw his photograph last week.
Q: Pedersen and Tilney.
Gruzen: Max Bond. I don’t know who he is.
Goldstein: Max Bond is a black architect.
Gruzen: Oh, yes.
Q: You saw his name because there was an article in the New York Times about diverse architects having input into the Lower Manhattan plan.
Levinson: That picture was in there last night.
Q: That’s right. John Brady.
Goldstein: John “Sanborn” Brady. Sam Brody was another nice man. They were in the same building as Abe Geller.
Q: James Burns, a writer with Progressive Architect and believed to be living in San Francisco, according to [unclear], could not locate current address. There we go. Let’s see. Is there anyone else that jumps to mind?
Goldstein: Bill Conklin was—
Q: Yes, Bill’s coming up. He’s in Washington now. He’s supposed to be coming up.
Goldstein: David Crane. There you go.
Q: “Deputy planning administrator, Boston Redevelopment Authority, deceased.” At the time—
Goldstein: At the time he was probably still teaching at Penn.
Q: Another Penn connection.
Goldstein: Yes. In fact, I applied to him to do a master’s degree at Penn—he knew me through Denise—and he told me to apply for a Ph.D. instead. But that was too many years’ commitment.
Q: That is a major. Now, let’s see. Tom Creighton was an editor of Progressive Architecture.
Goldstein: Yes, that’s right, Tom Creighton. Curtis & Davis were a big firm.
Q: Okay. I think René d’Harnoncourt—
Q: —is a lady that was pictured with Philip Johnson.
Goldstein: It’s a name that was associated with the museum.
Levinson: Her father was the president of the museum. René d’Harnoncourt.
Goldstein: Davis, Brody did good work, too.
Q: Lou [Davis] is going to be there, I hope.
Goldstein: One of my friends—Brian Smith—an English architect, went to work for them, and did a lot of terrific housing.
Q: Paul Davidoff was another University of Pennsylvania connection, in the planning area.
Goldstein: Actually, you could probably get a lot of information about these people, if you want more information about them, from Denise. She will have known them all. She did a master’s degree at Penn, which is how my connection with Penn came up. I was living in Baltimore at the time, and then I came to New York. There was this kind of connection with Penn.
Q: Harold Edelman. Does that ring any bells with you? He was an architect in the Village. He passed away just a few years ago.
Goldstein: I think he was a friend of Abe Geller’s. The name rings a bell.
Q: Actually, what’s interesting is there is kind of a cluster of people from the Village. Weinberg was a Villager, Jane Jacobs was a Villager, Harold Edelman was a Villager, and they all worked on other preservation stuff. So I’m not sure—and Ray Rubinow was part of that.
Goldstein: I didn’t know anybody who was in preservation.
Q: Well, people probably didn’t even describe it as such at that time, that’s probably a later—
Goldstein: I was thinking of Venturi. Venturi made his name as a young man at Penn, teaching, when he would give slide lectures with double slides and stuff which was pretty new at the time. He was very involved in looking at old buildings and learning from those old buildings.
Q: I see that J. Marsden Fitch signed the ad, which is interesting, being the head of the Columbia program. Any other sense of him, or memories?
Levinson: He was a birdwatcher and horticulturist.
Q: J. Marsden Fitch?
Q: I didn’t know that. I’ve read his book on the curatorial management of the built environment, but I didn’t realize—
Gruzen: Oh, yes, he [unclear].
Q: Oh, wow.
Goldstein: Well, there must be a ton of stuff on Franzen, because he was a very good architect. He had worked for I.M. Pei before, and he did work in Denver. He was a very, very good architect. He did a lot of great houses.
Q: Unfortunately, I.M. Pei’s out of town.
Goldstein: Nesbitt Garmendia. I know him. I remember I was once called to the job once and I was wearing a short, orange skirt and a red-and-white, striped, sleeveless T-shirt. I was called to the job and he went to John Brady and said, “She doesn’t look like an architect, she shouldn’t go to the job like that.”
Gruzen: He was a very uptight guy [laughs].
Q: Let the record show that remark was—it’s interesting to know the number of people from Progressive Architecture—
Goldstein: He worked for Oppenheimer, Brady, and Lehrecke, so you can [unclear]. I remember John telling him, “She’s worth three of you.”
Gruzen: Percy Goodman. Is he still alive?
Gruzen: There’s a “1” by him. What does that mean?
Q: That’s dead.
Gruzen: But Giurgola, you don’t have a “1” by.
Q: Unless we’ve got an asterisk, which may mean we don’t. Let’s see. We’ve got a code at the end here.
Gruzen: Is he dead? Maybe he’s still alive.
Goldstein: I think he may be.
Gruzen: His wife died, I know.
Q: What does an asterisk mean? “Last name, first name, information confirmed person located.”
Gruzen: So maybe he’s still alive. Right.
Goldstein: He drinks a lot of wine, he’s a good Italian, he’s a wonderful man.
Levinson: He was alive when [unclear] died.
Gruzen: [crosstalk] “Former wife.” That’s it.
Q: Sorry. This is not an extensive dossier, here, it’s just the basics that we have.
Who pulled Augie Heckscher in? He was a heavy-duty, White House special consultant on art? Was that Norval?
Levinson: He was a New York State—August Heckscher? He was a New York State official.
Goldstein: Norval had access to Johnson, and I think Philip Johnson probably gave us some help.
Q: Norval doesn’t come back from France until December.
Goldstein: Is he living there?
Q: I don’t think he has a place. He spends a significant chunk of time there, but not all the time. He’s coming back in December, so I hope we can get him in front of our trusty little Sony machine here, and get his take on things.
Does the name Arthur Holden mean anything to either of you? He’s a fascinating guy. He was much older, I think. He was an architect, I think, a planner. He also wrote poetry. He published a book called Sonnets for My City, and he wrote a sonnet dedicated to the Landmarks Law, which just goes to show you—
Goldstein: That’s great. Langston Hughes! My god!
Q: Tuesday we’re reading a poem of Langston Hughes’s on Penn Station, that he had written. He wrote for the Village Voice, so he may just have responded to the PR.
Goldstein: Norman Jaffe practiced on Long Island, and he designed a beautiful synagogue there.
Levinson: He did, in East Hampton.
Goldstein: Jacob Javits! My god.
Q: They must have gotten a letter—well, telegram—from him, to add his name.
Goldstein: John Johanssen.
Gruzen: Philip Johnson.
Goldstein: You can get a lot of stuff about him, because he’s got—well, you just don’t have a lot of stuff on Johnson, either. Both of them are very well known.
Q: Stanley Judd, I think, is identified as the attorney for AGBANY. He testified at the Planning Commission.
Goldstein: Or he might have been a friend of Norval’s [crosstalk].
Gerhard Kallman was a planner. Blake and Kallman became partners, in Boston, I think. They went together on a—
Q: We have them, indeed, in Boston.
Goldstein: Yes. In Boston. They designed a building there, a civic building, that won an award.
Gruzen: He’s not deceased, Richard Kaplan.
Q: No, no he’s not. That’s an asterisk, not a “1.” Richard’s actually going to be there Tuesday. We actually have him reading a letter.
Gruzen: Okay. You don’t have anything there on him.
Q: No, just picket, but I know Richard pretty well.
Goldstein: I think his father is J.M. Kaplan.
Q: Yes, the Kaplan Fund.
Gruzen: He worked at Gruzen at the time.
Q: Was he at Gruzen at the time? I knew he was a professional, young architect at the time.
Goldstein: He was young, yes.
Q: The photo in the New York Times, Richard’s in that. Richard Kaplan.
Gruzen: He designed those buildings. Horizon House, on the Hudson.
Goldstein: I’m glad you’re coming with me, because I wouldn’t recognize anybody. It reminds me of going out with Ruth Ansell. I used to go with her to all of these New York cocktail parties and she was the art editor of Harper’s Bazaar. She knew everybody and I knew nobody.
Gruzen: Well, I won’t know anybody, either.
Q: This is beginning to shape up like the fiftieth reunion of a high-school graduation, or something.
Goldstein: My husband went to a reunion. The only one he’s ever wanted to go to was of his elementary and nursery school.
Q: Good lord.
Goldstein: It was at Hunter College, here in New York. They were in the gifted children program or something, and I met these incredible people there.
Norman Klein is the one I told you about. He worked for SOM [Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill].
Q: AGBANY. We don’t have—
Gruzen: He went to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in San Francisco.
Goldstein: He was a New Yorker? He was sent, I think, to work overseas for Skidmore. Then he designed the coliseum when he was with Skidmore in Oakland.
Q: Does anybody know anything about Thaddeus Kusmierski.
Gruzen: Yes, he’s the one who lives in Berkeley now.
Goldstein: He a was friend. I met him through Claude.
Gruzen: Yes. He was a friend of Claude’s.
Goldstein: Panos Kyrtsis was an old boyfriend of mine, whose father owned ships.
Q: “MIT; 1958; cannot locate a current address.”
Goldstein: He’s dead.
Q: Oh, well. That’s probably why he doesn’t have a current address.
Gruzen: He died a long time ago.
Q: There’s a limit to internet research, at a certain point. Eric Larabee, “Managing editor of Horizon. Herb Oppenheimer believes that he is deceased.”
Goldstein: Eric Larabee.
Q: —also passed away.
Gruzen: Have they passed away, too?
Q: Yes, they’re all gone. We thought it would be a hoot to have this baby, who was in her carriage at this event.
Gruzen: John Lindsay.
Q: He was a mayoral candidate, right?
Gruzen: He was congressman at that time.
Q: Richard Lippold, artist.
Levinson: He did the sculptural lighting and ceiling fixture at the Four Seasons restaurant.
Gruzen: That’s how Johnson must have got to him.
Levinson: He also did something in the State Theater, or one of the buildings at Lincoln Center.
Q: Then Costas, who’s going to be there—
Goldstein: How did we know Costas? I don’t remember.
Q: He’s listed as the AGBANY treasurer.
Gruzen: He was at Gruzen, Kelly & Gruzen. Costas, Michael.
Q: Was he more senior, or the same age group?
Goldstein: No, I think he was around the same age group.
Q: Who got Norman Mailer, I wonder.
Goldstein: I would think it would be pretty easy to get Norman Mailer. All you do is call him up and tell him what you were doing and he would come.
Q: And he’d go for it, right?
Gruzen: Sanford Malter is an architect whom you just met recently.
Q: Worked with the architectural firm of Lathrap, Douglas & Associates; worked with Elliott Willensky; licensed architect; registered.
Gruzen: Is he coming to this thing?
Q: I honestly don’t know.
Goldstein: Is Norman Mailer coming?
Q: We wrote to him through his publishing house, and, of course, that doesn’t get you directly there. We didn’t have an in with Norman, I’m afraid.
Gruzen: Harriet Mandelbaum. I have no idea. Paul Manship is a sculptor, isn’t he?
Q: Oh, yes.
Gruzen: Do you know if he’s alive?
Goldstein: It’s quite incredible, this list.
Levinson: Who’s this?
Gruzen: Paul Manship?
Levinson: He’s an academic sculptor.
Q: Oh. “Deceased, 1966; source, The Art Index.” Okay. Yes, he must have been older.
Gruzen: Walter McQuade. I remember him.
Q: “Deceased; The Nation; November 10, ’62.”
Goldstein: Carroll Meeks is a familiar name. What is that?
Q: She gave a statement to the planning commission. “Deceased; professor Yale School of Architecture; authored The Railroad Station: An Architectural History, New Haven, 1956.” That would make sense.
Louis Mumford. We have the telegram from Mumford, which is great.
Gruzen: Ralph Mueller. Do you remember him?
Q: What do we have on him? Not much. “Architect; FDR Memorial Fund.” That’s interesting.
Gruzen: You remember Ralph. We know Ralph through Ruth Jody. Ralph Mueller.
Goldstein: He’s a friend of my friend, Ruth Jody. But you say he was a finalist. So were we.
Q: There may have been a lot of people who were finalists.
Goldstein: No, there were just six projects. One was Abe Geller’s, and that was Douglas Gordon, Claude, and me. I think Peter came and joined us afterwards.
Gruzen: If you want to know about him, I could call up my friend, who’s a friend of his.
Goldstein: Oh, great. Well, call and see if he wants to come Tuesday.
Q: I don’t think we had contacted him. Oh, we had written him. We had contact. Actually, we’re supposed to be getting a big story in tomorrow’s New York Times City Section. There’s a big story in the City Section. It’s supposed to be, you never know. But there’s supposed to be a photograph.
Goldstein: Did you ask this guy Christopher to write to him?
Q: Actually, it’s funny. I called the editor of the City Section, and they got Tony Hiss to do a wonderful, kind of reflective essay. Theoretically, we’re going to profile six people who were involved. Of course, we haven’t seen any of this, so who knows what it’s going to look like.
Levinson: Tony Hiss is a good friend of John Steinholz, and his father was Alger—
Q: Tony, actually, Tuesday night, is one of the readers in the program, who’s reading the wonderful passage from Thomas Wolfe’s book on Penn Station. That great, lyrical, three paragraphs. Tony’s there, but he wrote this piece for the Times tomorrow, which should be fun.
Gruzen: George Nemeny.
Q: George Nemeny.
Goldstein: He was an architect. He was a friend of Geller’s.
Q: “Statement: City Planning Commission believed deceased, according to Oppenheimer; architect, not registered, source, New York Registry of Licensed Architects.
Gruzen: Julian Neski.
Levinson: I knew Julian. He worked for Marcel Breuer.
Levinson: I’m not sure.
Q: He wrote a support letter to AGBANY. He signed the advertisement. We’ve got an address for him on Sixty-Eighth Street.
Levinson: His wife was also an architect.
Q: Did she use his name, or did she have her own name?
Levinson: I think so. I’m not sure.
Q: Okay. We don’t have her down. Oppenheimer, right. Ostrow. I.M. Pei. Oh, Nicholas Pevsner—that’s kind of fun. Architectural Record, I guess. Okay. Chester Rapkin, with City Planning. Lee Pomeroy’s going to be there. He’s going to be there.
Goldstein: You know Lee Pomeroy, right? How do I know Lee Pomeroy?
Levinson : I know his sister. She’s an art consultant on sculpture projects.
Q: Did they have parents of note, in the city?
Gruzen: I doubt it. Why? Financially?
Q: I know her too, and she is in the art world.
Gruzen: He retired.
Q: Who are we talking about now?
Goldstein: Ian Ferguson retired.
Q: Henry Hope Reed is supposed to be there. Henry’s one of the great figures in classical architecture.
Gruzen: And Eleanor Roosevelt.
Q: Yes, we have a telegram from her that we’re reading, which is kind of fun.
Goldstein: Well I don’t know who got to her [laughs].
Q: Who knows? I bet somebody just wrote her.
Goldstein: I keep giving Philip Johnson credit, because he knew a lot of people.
Q: Do you think he was that engaged? Is your memory that he was that engaged?
Goldstein: No, but I think Norval might have asked him to contact all his friends.
Q: Paul Rudolph, which brings Yale into the picture.
This is interesting. Alice Sachs is actually a lady whom I knew. Unfortunately, she died before this project came up. A political activist, and she was very involved in Democratic politics. I’m trying to figure out if Janet Sachs might actually—whether she had two names or that was her middle name or something. Or whether she had a sister. That is just part of our research. Who else do we have?
Gruzen: There’s Denise Scott Brown.
Q: She gave a statement to the City Planning Commission, which was great.
Goldstein: Because she is a planner.
Q: That would have been a good fit.
Gruzen: Shopsin. That name is familiar.
Levinson: Yes. Bill Shopsin.
Q: Bill’s still around. I have to say, I confess, I was somewhat shocked to see his name on the list. [crosstalk] Lloyd Siegel. Yes, we have Lloyd down at the Veterans Administration in Washington. I just got a nice note from Nathan Silver, who is in London and can’t make it.
Goldstein: These names are all so familiar, but I have no idea. Jim Slavin?
Gruzen: No, no. It’s Clifford Slavin. James died.
Q: This is kind of like a big time warp, isn’t it? Trying to figure all this out? Hugh Stubbins.
Goldstein: He was a big-time architect.
Q: Statement: “City Planning; licensed architect.” Edgar’s going to be there, I think. Walter Thabit’s going to be there.
Goldstein: I think Edgar [A.] Tafel was a Frank Lloyd Wright graduate.
Gruzen: Yes, he was.
Levinson: He was his student.
Goldstein: Gordon Tully. Who was he?
Q: We have no information at all on him.
Goldstein: Christopher Tunnard. That’s a big name.
Q: He signed the advertising. Joe Wasserman. Does that ring any bells? He’s a Peter Samton connection.
Goldstein: Wasserman. There’s a building that’s got that name.
Q: But I think he’s up in Massachusetts now. Peter put us onto him. We have Weese, Ben Weese, who’s a big—
Goldstein: Harry Weese. This is Harry Weese’s brother, Ben Weese.
Q: We’ve got Ben and Harry both. Harry died, “deceased in 1998,” but Ben—
Goldstein: But it was his firm, Harry Weese—
Q: Harry Weese & Associates, right. Ed Norval.
Goldstein: What do you say about Norval?
Q: Norval. I’ve e-mailed with him, but then our researcher talked with him. He’s in France. I wish we could get him back. He must have a place there, where he spends a chunk of time.
Goldstein: Well, it seems to me, from his addresses, that he must have inherited some money. Because you don’t make it in architecture, right? He probably had a lot of connections, and maybe Philip Johnson. That’s why I say we were really lucky. You have an idea, and then you find that the executives, like Jordan, have got access to somebody like Norval, who has access to other people. It was really fortuituous.
Q: When you said earlier, six degrees of separation, indeed, we can get to Kevin Bacon pretty quickly. It seems—
Goldstein: I remember that, from when I was at Penn. [crosstalk]
Gruzen: Chet Wisniewski. Yes, Chet Wisniewski.
Q: What do we have. “Living in Martha’s Vineyard. Was living in Montclair two years ago.” So he’s living in Martha’s Vineyard.
Goldstein: But he’s going to be there?
Gruzen: No, he probably won’t be there.
Q: I don’t have the latest list.
Gruzen: Bruno Zevi.
Q: What do we have? “City planning; author of Architecture as Space; architect.” Michael Zimmer.
Goldstein: He was a friend of Ed Geller’s, I think. I’m not sure.
Q: Other possible names. Do any of these ring bells with you? These are Philip Johnson folks here. This is all from Louis Morandi.
Goldstein: Well, if you got them from Louis, you can find out more about them there. Also, from Herb, because Herb—
Q: Well, she certainly wrote about it. She probably had to distance herself. This is an unfair question, but I’ll ask it. Are there any names not listed here that should be? Anybody missing?
Gruzen: Well, Claude doesn’t seem to be in there.
Q: Oh, Claude’s been added. This is actually an earlier—we’ve added Claude.
Goldstein: I’ve sent Claude’s name. I know that he was there. Was that too early for—who was my friend who was the electrical contractor?
Gruzen: Frank Farley, but that was before.
Goldstein: Before Frank?
Q: Let me get back to one other hard question here, before I totally give way to my margaritas. What was your feeling at the time about the AIA and groups like the Municipal Art Society, kind of the establishment groups?
Goldstein: The same as it is now.
Q: Would you elaborate just a little?
Goldstein: I don’t understand them. They’re professionals. They are interested in the profession and in fostering the good of the profession, but I don’t think they’re passionate people. It’s not in their realm to be. I’m sure that Philip Johnson was a member of the AIA, but he didn’t do what he did with us as a member of the AIA. The AIA is there for the profession, for the good of the profession, to see that there’s work. If the unions wanted work, they would foster it. It’s a professional organization, and they don’t have much soul, do they? The individuals within them do, but people join because they follow the profession.
Q: We found in this file, from the City Planning Commission in 1962, testimony from one of the unions that, forty years later, is even more embarrassing than when it was delivered. About how the demolition of this building could not have any impact on a historic landmark since it was a replica of a landmark in Rome and no one was touching the landmark in Rome.
Goldstein: You could say that about every old building in the city.
Q: Absolutely. I must say, it’s quite a hoot. I think I’m going to turn the tape recorder off. Then you can tell me about the real stories.
Gruzen: Then we can tell you about all the boyfriends.
Q: There we go. Thank you all very much. This is great.
Q: How did the whole Penn Station experience influence your later life? Did it turn you off of things, because it was lost?
Q: Was it a key thing for you, or only now, in retrospect?
Goldstein: No, as I told you, I have ideas all the time, and I act on them when I can. For instance, when I did my master’s degree at Berkeley, I was supposed to design a prison. I was studying with Sim Van der Ryn. We discussed punishment versus rehabilitation and stuff like that, and as I did my research it seemed to me that it was a totally ridiculous system. So I designed at that point a “halfway-in” house. Usually, you have halfway-out houses. But when you learn about the criminalization of people who go to prison—I mean, they’re often in prison for the wrong reason. They’ve been caught young, and they’re criminalized in prison. So it was an extremely interesting thing, and I wrote a paper about designing an urban system for dealing with first-time offenders. A lot of it was purely intuitive. I said it should be twelve people living in a house. They have bus systems that take them to work and that bring them back. You can control them so that they really have a controlled living environment, but they’re not in prison yet. You can salvage them before they ever get contaminated. I believe the Criminology Department at Berkeley was very interested in this thing, and took it.
My ex-husband, Gabrielle’s father, would have his children from a previous marriage come and stay with him in the summers. I saw the problems that he had dealing with these children. He had a one-bedroom apartment. When I was doing my master’s degree, I did single-parent needs. We went and interviewed all these single parents, and all these organizations that support single parents. I came up with the idea that what you really need is a telephone exchange where people can call, because there are no more nuclear families—there are no more extended families—they’re all nuclear and people need help. They need help from agencies.
So, again, I was designing urban systems that would improve the lives of certain groups of people. It was a great idea. I tried to persuade a friend of mine to start “Park a Tot Lots,” so you could park your kids for twenty-five cents an hour, while you went to the therapist, or whatever.
Q: There’s a moneymaker.
Goldstein: Actually, there were a lot of things I came up with that I think are now franchised for single-parent needs.
I’ve often had these ideas, and I’ve always wanted to throw them out there for other people to pick up. I was lucky with Jordan and Peter, that they were executive types and I was the sort of person who was instigating all these ideas.
So it didn’t really change me. I’ve always had enough confidence. When I first came to New York, I felt New York was really overwhelming. It was this huge city. I gradually realized that it was a village. I bought my records at the same place, my books at the same place, I had my little clique of people, we went skiing together. I believe that one person can make a difference. I’ve always had that feeling.
Gruzen: But today you don’t have it.
Goldstein: I still have that feeling.
Gruzen: Really? That one person can make a difference?
Goldstein: Look at the people who started moveon.org.
Gruzen: Well, they did make a difference.
Goldstein: People can still make a difference.
Q: People, indeed, can still make a difference.
[END OF INTERVIEW]