The Germania Bank building in New York City is a bit of an enigma. Built in 1898, the six-story Renaissance Revival structure is now best known as the boarded up, graffiti-covered building simply called 190 Bowery. Nearly 50 years ago, photographer Jay Maisel (who is known for his shots of Marilyn Monroe, Miles Davis, and his chronicling of New York street life) bought the entire building for $102,000—a steal, to say the least, especially for 38,000 square feet of prime SoHo real estate.
It wasn’t that way when he purchased the property, though. When Maisel moved in in 1966, the neighborhood was seedy and derelict, and the building was a disaster. “Every single thing that can come out of a human body has been left on my doorstep,” Maisel told New York Magazine in 2008. “It was more disgusting than dangerous.”
Maisel began making some ad-hoc renovations to the 72 rooms and maintained the property as his private home and studio. He briefly rented out floors as studios to artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Adolph Gottlieb in the late ‘60s, and allowed the outside to become a studio of sorts to some other more enterprising artists. The façade of 190 has been called a mecca of street art, and even Keith Haring used to draw his famous “chalk babies” on the outside walls. “I never washed off any of Keith’s stuff,” Maisel said once. “Keith was the only person who did graffiti in chalk.”
Google's Street View technology can be used to view some amazing art, whether it's behind the walls of the Palace of Versailles in France or the Guggenheim Museum in New York. As the BBC reports, the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh is the latest institution to receive the virtual treatment.
The museum contains items tracing the history of the world and humanity. In the Natural World galleries, visitors will find a hulking Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and a panorama of wildlife. In the World Cultures galleries, there are centuries' worth of art and innovation to see. The museum's permanent galleries and the 20,000 objects on display can all be viewed from home thanks to the new online experience.
Users can navigate the virtual museum as they would a regular location on Street View. Just click the area you wish to explore and drag your cursor for full 365-degree views. If there's a particular piece that catches your interest, you may be able to learn more about it from Google Arts & Culture. The site has added 1000 items from the National Museum of Scotland to its database, complete with high-resolution photos and detailed descriptions.
The Street View tour is a convenient option for art lovers outside the UK, but the museum is also worth visiting in person: Like its virtual counterpart, admission to the institution is free.
In 1973, newspapers around the country saw the debut of artist George Gately's Heathcliff, a single-panel comic strip about a mischievous orange tabby who menaces dogs and haunts local fish markets. (And yes, he was named after the character in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.) For nearly half a century, the character has been seen in print, on television, and has spawned a slew of merchandise. Check out some facts about the comics page’s pick of the litter.
1. HE PRE-DATES GARFIELD.
You might assume the enormous success of Garfield, Jim Davis’s long-running strip about a lazy and sardonic orange cat, led to derivative works about sleepy felines. Could be, but Heathcliff isn’t one of them. George Gately’s strip began running in 1973, five years before Davis’s Garfield hit papers.
2. HE WAS BROUGHT BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND.
Though he quickly appeared in 200 papers, Heathcliff’s future was by no means guaranteed early on, and in 1974, the Los Angeles Times decided to drop the strip. More than 900 readers wrote letters of complaint in response, prompting the Times to reinstate the strip just a few weeks later.
3. GATELY WAS INVITED TO CAT CONVENTIONS.
With Heathcliff’s popularity came opportunity for merchandising, animation, and other ancillary ventures. One of the strangest may have been the repeated invitations for Gately to attend cat conventions, where cat owners requested his autograph be addressed to their pet. This sometimes led to questionable solicitations, like when one woman asked for his signature for her cat, Hitler. According to John Gallagher, Gately’s brother, Gately wound up writing “Good luck, Hitler” for the fan.
4. MEL BLANC GAVE HIM A VOICE.
Like Garfield, Heathcliff doesn’t speak in print. But when the character made the move to animation, being a silent hero was off the table. The first Heathcliff series premiered in 1980 and featured the voice of cartoon legend Mel Blanc as the title character. In the second season, he teamed with fellow comic strip star Marmaduke. Another series followed in 1984, as well as an animated feature in 1986.
5. BUNNICULA COST HIM A HALLOWEEN SPECIAL.
The crown jewel of comic strips in animation is the holiday special, with A Charlie Brown Christmas being the gold standard. Done right, the projects can run almost in perpetuity. In the 1980s, Heathcliff very nearly joined the pantheon with a Halloween special that was planned for ABC following an animated adaptation of the vampire-bunny book Bunnicula. During the outline stage, ABC screened the finished Bunnicula special and decided the animation was too rough for primetime. Since Ruby-Spears was handling production for both, Heathcliff got sidelined.
6. GATELY DREW SIMPLE BACKGROUNDS FOR A REASON.
Comic strip artists are constantly under deadline pressure, which is a big reason why you don’t often see elaborate backgrounds. But Gately had a different reason for keeping Heathcliff’s home simple. “I'm very careful to never make the home in my cartoon look too fancy,” he said. “I'm as interested in having the poorest person relate to Heathcliff as I am the richest person."
7. HE MADE GATELY A MILLIONAIRE.
Like Garfield, Heathcliff’s true potential wasn’t relegated to newsprint. By 1982, the cat’s merchandising deals were so profitable that Gately and partners raked in $55 million in licensing revenue.
8. HE ENDORSED KITTY LITTER.
In 1986, Heathcliff broke one of the last remaining taboos of celebrities and opted to endorse a feces-related product. Heathcliff’s Blue Ribbon Cat Litter promised to be “dust-free” and could absorb 1.5 times its weight in liquid. The ad copy got right to the point: “The competition stinks.”
9. ONE NEWSPAPER POLLED READERS ON WHICH COMIC CAT THEY LIKED BETTER. HEATHCLIFF LOST.
In October 1981, New Jersey's Asbury Park Press decided to allot space to one of the leading cat comic strips and asked readers to decide which one it would be. Garfield won, but only by a nose: The lasagna-engorged cat drew 326 votes to Heathcliff’s 324. One reader didn't appear enamored with either choice and opted for a write-in: “Bring us Marmaduke.”
10. HE WAS A NASCAR SPONSOR.
Chris Graythen, Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway
We’re not entirely sure what to make of the association, but beginning in 2004, Heathcliff was a sponsor for NASCAR driver T.J. Bell. Bell wore a Heathcliff character logo on his racing suit; his Ford F-150 car was dubbed the “No. 50 Heathcliff’s Cat Litter Ford.”
11. THE STRIP IS A FAMILY BUSINESS.
When Gately retired from the strip in 1998 (he died in 2001), Heathcliff continued—thanks in large part to the work of Peter Gallagher, Gately’s nephew, who had been working as Gately’s apprentice since 1994. Still appearing in newspapers across the country, Heathcliff is billed as "the original orange cat."