The Pythian Temple

The Pythian Temple (100)

Are you in New York or in a setting of the opera Aida? And it is worth contemplating this impressive building, very different from the others that can be seen throughout the streets of the city.

Its architect Thomas Lamb, specialising in theatre, was commissioned to design the headquarters of a fraternity called the Knights of Pythias,, founded in Washington by Justus H. Rathbone, who was inspired by a work by Irish poet John Banim about the legend of Damon and Pythias. This legend illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honour and friendship that are fundamental to the order. And thus the building was designed and decorated in 1927, where it seems that Cleopatra herself is about to walk through the door.

Over the years, interest in the organisation disappeared and the building was transferred to British label Decca Records. In 1954 Bill Halley and the Comets recorded his famous album Rock Around the Clock here and other artists such as Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr. and Buddy Holly also recorded here. A little later, in the late 50's the building was acquired by the New York Institute of Technology and by 1980 was reformed to house 88 luxury apartments. 

Approaching the front door there is an inscription saying "how beautiful this world would be if all men loved each other like brothers." Look at its polychrome details like winged lions and other representations and symbols of Egyptian, Assyrian and Sumerian inspiration. 

Finally, raise your eyes and you will think you are in Abu Simbel. From the top of the building impassive pharaohs monitor everything that happens on the streets of New York. New Yorkers often wonder who forgot this Hollywood set in the middle of 70th Street.

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