This week on Art of the Week, we take you into the world of Harry Potter. Or rather to the New York of the 1920s, as shown in the film “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them“.
The Woolworth Building (built 1910-13, a work of architect Cass Gilbert) plays a prominent role here. For on the one hand, it is, at least for all Muggles, the real high-rise building with its neo-Gothic elements that we know. But, as typical of parallel world narratives, there is a second version that is intertwined with it. When wizards and witches enter the building, an exciting mixture of modern and historicist elements, all of which are neo-Gothic in design, is revealed.
The building structure with its grid construction remains intact and serves as background and lighting. But the internal structure, i.e. floors, stairs, elevators and so on, is missing. They have been replaced by the magic equivalences as well as by completely new additions.
The Woolworth Building is the official residence of MACUSA, the Magical Congress of the United States of America. This corresponds to the Ministry of Magic in the United Kingdom and as the seat of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the American magical world, it is suitably representative and monumental.
The use of neo-Gothic elements is particularly interesting because it fulfils the same functions as in the actual world. On the one hand, it creates an atmosphere of historical continuity and at the same time refers to the Anglo-Saxon connection between the USA and Great Britain.
This is evident in the Chamber of Congress, which is structured similarly to the Chamber of Parliament in the neo-Gothic Westminster Palace in London.
What do you think? Why is the MACUSA based in NYC? And why the Woolworth Building? Write your thoughts in the comments! <3