The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.
This exhibition is dedicated to the late Richard D Kaplan (1911-2016), architect and founder of Heritage Trails, whose broad interests in New York City and its region also trained an intense focus on the square mile at the tip of lower Manhattan, the city’s historic core. In the 1990s, as the future of this district was threatened in multiple ways, Kaplan believed that the history of Downtown needed to be part of its reinvented future. He championed Heritage Trails New York with both his own enormous energy and enthusiasm and with the support of his family’s philanthropy, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, which has also provided support for this exhibition. The Museum is especially grateful to the Kaplan family, notably Joan Davidson, Peter Davidson, and Edwina Sandys, as well as to Amy Freitag, Executive Director of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.
We also thank many other friends and colleagues who shared their memories of Richard’s work Downtown: Alexia Lalli, Nadine Peyser, Anthony W. Robins, Keith Helmetag, Stephan Van Dam, James Sanders, Michael Kwartler, and Laurie Beckelman. From the Downtown Alliance, then and now, we thank Suzanne O’Keefe and Jessica Lappin. Special thanks go Mary Beth Betts, who contributed to the history of Downtown in the Nineties while at the Landmarks Preservation Commission and who was an indispensable partner in formulating this exhibition.
As we searched for objects and images to illustrate the themes of the show, we were aided by many talented people who had a history Downtown in the period. For her extraordinary documentation of the Fulton Fish Market and South Street Seaport, we thank photographer Barbara Mensch. On the Hudson River side, we are grateful to the Battery Park City Authority for their role in shaping a new neighborhood downtown and for the affording a home for The Skyscraper Museum. Thanks are due to the staff there over the past twenty years, and especially to Gwen Dawson for coordinating the objects lent for the exhibition.
Architects who worked on period projects and contributed to the exhibition include: Skidmore Owings & Merrill; Beyer, Blinder, Belle; Smith Miller + Hawkinson; James Sanders; Machado Silvetti; Steven Peterson & Barbara Littenberg; Asymptote Architecture; and Gehry Partners.
As always, I thank the dedicated staff of The Skyscraper Museum for their hard work on all aspects of the project, including Josh Vogel, Jorge Opinel, and Peter Sohmer and interns Rosy Doud, Rosalind Flower, Amhara Hernandez, Emma Kilroy, Rachel Kustera, Nick Miller, Henry Morales, Marc Muccaccio, Amelia Mullins, Mike Roberto, and Michael Young.
Founding Director and Curator