Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cornelius Vanderbilt: OMOM Essay 25

Vanderbilt has been so widely maligned that even I (who am very favorably disposed to businessmen) expected to dislike him. The biggest surprise in researching him was that his New York Times obituary (1877, excerpted in the Sidebar of Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan) was largely positive. Vanderbilt's productive career is the focus of "About the Subject." It's an abridged version of what appears in Forgotten Delights: The Producers. On the exigencies of pages and pricing, see my blog entry of 1/2/07 on Cooper, OMOM Essay 10.

"About the Sculpture" discusses the importance of setting. Vanderbilt was not intended to be seen against the vast, dark expanse of Grand Central Terminal's windows.

Nearly all my photos of Vanderbilt are taken from the same angle. If you visit the sculpture you’ll see why: shooting from any other angle would involve dodging high-speed traffic (mostly terrifying New York taxis) on the Park Avenue Viaduct.

It took quite some time to find an appropriate quote to juxtapose with Vanderbilt on the Forgotten Delights calendar, but J.B. Say’s description of an entrepreneur (from his 1803 Treatise on Political Economy) is perfect.

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