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Let the new Frick flower
April 27, 2015
Here is a tale of old New York whose ending is soon to be written.
Pittsburgh’s Henry Clay Frick, chairman of Carnegie Steel, was a robber baron who ordered hundreds of armed Pinkertons to attack Homestead Steel strikers in 1892, producing mass casualties.
In 1905, the “Most Hated Man in America” moved here with hopes of rehabilitating his image. After renting the Vanderbilt mansion on Fifth Ave., Frick purchased the Lenox Library in 1912, whose collection had just moved to the new New York Public Library on Fifth Ave. at 42nd St.
The Lenox Library was such a fabulous building that Frick offered to pay to move the structure wherever the city might want it located. When the public squabbled over a new site, Frick tore down the Lenox, built his dream house on the site and filled it with the world’s finest art.
After Frick died in 1919, his wife lived among works by Rembrandt, Velázquez, Vermeer, El Greco and Goya until her own death in 1931. Then, after modifications, the building opened as a museum in 1935 and has since housed the great Frick Collection at Fifth Ave. and 70th St.