The 69th Regiment Armory | 68 Lexington Avenue
The 69th Regiment Armory, located across the street from the 88 & 90 Lexington apartments, is not just a historic Beaux Arts building. It is the home of New York City legends; it encompasses a wealth of history; and it hosts an array of large-scale events. Like the vibrant neighborhood where these Gramercy condos are for sale, the Armory has many identities—a living museum, an army headquarters, a Victoria’s Secret fashion runway, and a place of myth—all of which will weave into your NoMad (North of Madison Square Park) days and establish a deep connection to the cultural and historical heart of the city.
In 1906 the architects Hunt & Hunt built the structure in the Beaux Arts style, a first for New York City armories, which had until that time been modeled after medieval fortresses. The Armory combines the grandeur of typical armory design with the classic Beaux Arts elegance that the Hunt brothers also used for what is known as the “Marble Twins” on Fifth Avenue, a pair of stately homes they built for George Vanderbilt.
It was at the Armory, a building that architecture critic Montgomery Schuyler called “an entirely different inspiration from any of its predecessors,” that Thure Johansson of Sweden broke the indoor track marathon running record in 1910; it was here that the first televised roller derby matches were held in 1948 and 1949; and it was here that the Knicks played many of their home games between 1946 and 1960.
Beyond the military artifacts and historical documents found on the Armory’s first floor, there is a room, according to The New York Times, where the 69th regiment, once known as “The Fighting Irish,” gathers every year to drink a round of whiskey at dawn before they lead the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The Garryowen Club is a bar inside the armory where the spirit of the regiment, past and present, lives on and where personalized beer mugs of soldiers and officers line the shelves behind the wooden bar. The club, which is only open to military personnel and their guests, remains one of the most historically atmospheric bars in the city.
The Armory is also a landmarked building that hosts arts events, including serving for several years as the venue for the annual Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Festival, one of the most important gatherings for the illustration and comics communities in New York and beyond. These events at the Armory are the direct descendants of one of the building’s most historic moments: the 1913 Armory Show, which was the seminal exhibition that first brought modern art to the American public. It was, after all, at the Armory Show that the New York art world first came into considered contact with Picasso, van Gogh, Matisse, and Duchamp—a world-changing experience made possible in part by the grandeur of the Armory, whose vast interior creates a repository of history and creativity in the midst of one of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods.