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Ada Louise Huxtable

On New York's Unique Qualities:
The combination of power and money and creative vitality has created a city that we New Yorkers are very chauvinistic about, and rather disliked for all over the world; we're considered just not in touch with the rest of the world. Well, maybe we're not, and maybe that's a good thing, maybe the fact that we are doing all this creative work is something that is so unique, and so special, that it does make New York a city unlike any other.

On New York's Relationship To Architecture:
The art of architecture is the greatest of the arts. Frank Lloyd Wright called it the mother of the arts. But it is the art that absolutely cannot be avoided, that expresses everything that any civilization creates or leaves behind it. Certainly a city like New York, with the skyscrapers and with the mass of building and the height of building and the substance of building en masse expresses what we have been able to do structurally. It expresses it very beautifully. There are many very beautiful buildings, and when they are not beautiful, they have the strength, the power, the incredible advances in construction in the 19th and 20th centuries that made the skyscrapers possible, that made that kind of building possible, and made the kind of life possible that we live in New York, that is all the function of architecture.

On Contrasts:
I have always felt that the fascination of a city like New York, particularly, is that it offers you all of these contrasts, all of these changes. That you still can go back and see the Georgian and the Federal city, that there are still places where you can experience that, and you can experience that right next to some of the newest and grandest skyscrapers. I have always loved the contrast, I have always loved the continuity, and that's equally true of every period in which the city has done any kind of major building.

On Urban Renewal:
By the 60s, we knew that urban renewal was a failure, we knew that it had taken the heart and the gut out of cities. But New York's urban renewal had started in the 50s and was moving along like an unstoppable juggernaut, and there were, of course, deals made between the government and between the real estate people, the developers. I think it could have been stopped because it kept going before the Board of Estimate over and over again, and people protested, but the city felt it could not back down on the arrangements that had been made. So 15 acres were bulldozed for Brooklyn Bridge South. I think over 100 acres were bulldozed when the Washington Market was moved, and in each case what they were knocking down were streets and streets of beautiful historic buildings. Georgian and Greek-revival buildings of a style that really told us a great deal about what New York was like then, and what the changes have been.

Ada Louise Huxtable
Photo: Harry Heleotis
A critic of American architecture, Huxtable was born in New York City. As architecture critic for the NEW YORK TIMES from 1963 to 1982, she became a pioneer of contemporary architectural journalism. In her often trenchant writings she followed the path from modernism to postmodernism and contributed to the preservation movement. Huxtable was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism in 1970.