(Editors Note: Art studied architecture while a student at Columbia University in New York in the early 1960s.)

09 December 2012

Art Garfunkel, 71, was born and raised in Forest Hills, Queens, but his greatest thrill was becoming successful enough to move to Manhattan. “I’m crazy about Manhattan. I love the thrill of it,” he says. “I just love where I am. A few feet from Central Park? I’m a lucky chap.” Garfunkel has lived in the same apartment off the Park since 1975, a year that marked the high point of his career. He recently released “The Singer,” a 2-CD, 34-song career retrospective, featuring work from both his solo and Paul Simon years. This is his New York.

1. Perelman Residence, 62nd Street at Lexington Avenue

“I had a friend named Luis Perelman in architecture school. His dad was a psychiatrist with a brownstone on East 62nd Street. When you come from Queens and you’re a middle-class kid who plays punchball in the street, and then you get to know the brownstones of the Upper East Side, it’s a little bit like stepping into the movies. We were preparing to record the ‘Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.’ album, and that became our rehearsal spot.” [The cover of that album was shot in the Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street subway station.]

2. Seagram Building, 375 Park Ave., between 52nd and 53rd streets

“Back in my college days, around 1962, I got a job sorting mail in Mies van der Rohe’s brilliant piece of architecture, the Seagram Building. I was an architecture student, and I was gaga over Mies van der Rohe. To have a Christmas job there and be amongst the travertine marble, to be in Mies van der Rohe’s world, was a thrill to me, even in the basement sorting mail.”

3. The Hampshire House, 150 Central Park So., between Sixth and Seventh avenues

“I was a newcomer to fame, and they gave me a room with a little terrace on the 25th floor. I got up in the morning, had my room-service orange juice, stepped out onto the terrace and looked out over New York as a man whose life had just been transformed. I was on top of the world.”

4. Gerde’s Folk City, formerly at 11 W. Fourth St., at Mercer Street

“It was an amateur place. We would wait our turn, then get up and work out on stage. Paul and I were just beginning to get used to microphones and to crowds, who either were interested, or insulted you right to your face. [Songs we sang there include] ‘He Was My Brother’; Paul’s earliest tune, ‘Sparrow’; and ‘A Most Peculiar Man.’ ‘The Sound of Silence’ would have been in the repertoire as well.”

5. Fifth Avenue Subway station, at 53rd Street

“Our engineer, Roy Halee, and I took our recording equipment into the subway — the 53rd Street IND line (now the E and F train — to do a field recording. We loved the weight of the subway train as it pulls into the station and makes that squeaky sound. You feel the freight and the weight of the shifting cars. We thought that weight was speaking very specifically as its own sound, and we recorded it and put it into the middle-eight break behind Michael Brecker’s saxophone in my song ‘A Heart in New York.’ ” 

6. The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave., at 112th Street

“It’s the largest cathedral in North America, it has great stained-glass windows and it’s still being built — it’s 150 years in the making. I did a show [there] with Jimmy Webb, performing his brilliant ‘The Animals’ Christmas.’ The audience filled up maybe the first 30 pews, but [the church] went on and on beyond that. It was almost too big for me — it was intimidating.”

7. Half-finished skyscraper, Midtown

“I was an architecture student, so I snuck onto the construction site and climbed 48 stories to sit there, read and prepare for my tests. When you build these things, the inner core, with elevators and stairwells, are one of the first things that get finished, so I knew they were safe. It was quite dangerous if you got near the edge, but I didn’t. I just sat there in this unfinished skyscraper, feeling that I was special.”

8. St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University, 1157 Amsterdam Ave., at 118th Street

“When we made ‘The Boxer’ at the end of the 1960s, Paul [Simon] and I brought all our sound equipment up to my alma mater, Columbia College to record the ‘la la las’ in the song. I had been in that chapel a few times, and I loved the properties, the size, the perfect dome, the fact that I had been wandering through it over the years making sounds, and loving what it did to the delay of my vocal. So I knew it sonically.”

9. Central Park

“When [Paul and I] were making ‘Bookends,’ we wanted to get somehow older and older in theme, in sound and in tempo as the songs progressed. So I took a microphone into Central Park, put it inside a long loaf of French bread that was inside wrapping paper. Only the 1-inch diameter mesh of the microphone was sticking out. And I tucked it under my arm, so it was recording what was going on behind me. I started recording old folks, picking up their conversations. It was fascinating to hear two old ladies talk to each other. This was some of my homework for my song ‘Voices of Old People.’ ”

10. The Cloisters, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park

“We did a picture session there in 1967. We loved the Cloisters, and we went there to get kind of a religious monk-feeling of austerity. If you wanted to be European and religious, you went there.”