Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Theater History & Dramatic Arts > 245. Ely Jacques Kahn

245.  Ely Jacques Kahn (1884-1972).  Drawing, Dowling Theater, Times Square, New York City. Charcoal and pastel on tracing paper, [1944-1947] Avery Library, Drawings and Archives, Kahn and Jacobs Collection

A 1906 graduate of Columbia College, Kahn spent several years at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before returning to New York to join the firm of Buchman and Fox. The firm had many connections in the retail and garment industries; department stores were among their clients. Bloomingdale's and Oppenheim-Collins were two of their major patrons. Kahn, along with Raymond Hood and Ralph Walker, was one of the most successful New York architects of the 1920s. His buildings include 2 Park Avenue, the Squibb Building, Bergdorf-Goodman, 120 Wall Street, 525 Seventh Avenue, the Film Center Building, among many others. Because of Kahn's decorative talents, the buildings were also known for their colorful lobbies and elevator cabs and exterior ornament.

Around 1940, Kahn teamed with a younger architect, Robert Allan Jacobs, son of the architect Harry Allan Jacobs, who had just returned from working in Le Corbusier's office in Paris. This project for a post-war theater shows the exuberance and eagerness for a post-war New York City. After years of war-time blackouts, these drawings promised a return to the bright lights and excitement of Times Square. Unfortunately, this project was not built.

The Kahn Collection was the gift of Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum, the successor firm to Kahn and Jacobs. Additional personal materials, including scrapbooks, clippings, and photographs, were gifts of Mrs. Ely Jacques Kahn.

Gift of Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum, 1978

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