The subway ride between the Whitney’s Upper East Side home and the site of our building project at Washington and Gansevoort Streets, in the Meatpacking District, isn’t so long—it only takes about 40 minutes door-to-door. While the uptown-to-downtown trek will become a part of the daily lives of Whitney staff who are involved with the building process, the Museum has occupied more sites throughout the city than even longtime city dwellers may realize.
As a member of one of the city’s most prominent families, the Museum’s founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, was raised at 1 West 57th Street, in a sprawling French Renaissance-style home that spanned an entire city block and whose entrance faced the most fashionable corner of Fifth Avenue—Bergdorf Goodman department store currently occupies the site, in fact. At that time, people of her social status rarely ventured far beyond their immediate surroundings. For example, after marrying Harry Payne Whitney in 1896, Gertrude moved only as far as the house next door, which was given as a gift to the young couple by Harry’s father.