Saturday, February 25, 2017

Iwalked New York City's Galleria Site of Conor Clapton Tragedy

Iwalked New York City's Galleria Site of Conor Clapton Tragedy - The fifty-seven story Galleria was built in 1973 as the city’s first mixed-use property (i.e.-partly used for commercial and residential purposes). It was originally designed by David Kenneth Specter solely for office use, however, when it became apparent that the market at the time already had a glut of unrented office space, the plans were quickly modified. Today offices occupy the first eight stories with the remainder of the building containing apartments.

Galleria Site of Conor Clapton Tragedy
Galleria Site of Conor Clapton Tragedy

The Galleria is named for its spacious seven-story atrium and has been owned by magician David Copperfield since 1997. Mr. Copperfield still maintains a residency on the building’s upper floors. The unusual looking penthouse atop the Galleria was originally designed for an heir of General Motors, Stewart Mott who had the unit built to his specifications and then just never moved in.

In 1991, the Galleria was the site of a tragedy for legendary guitarist Eric Clapton. It was here that Clapton’s four-year-old son Conor fell to his death from the 53rd floor. After years of attempting to have a child with his former wife Pattie Boyd, Clapton had his first son with an Italian model named Lory Del Santo on August 21, 1986. After his son’s birth, Clapton struggled to come to grips with what it meant to be a father and bond with his child. It was sadly just the night before his son’s tragic death that Clapton began to connect with Conor. They had just returned from a day together on Coney Island when Clapton was quoted as saying, “I now understand what it means to have a child and be a father.”

On March 20, 1991 Conor was playing hide-and-seek with his housekeeper, with both his mother and maid also present in the apartment, when he went to hide in one the bedrooms. He approached a 4’x6’ window that the housekeeper had left open slightly to air out the room she had just finished cleaning. As Conor leaned outward near the window he heartbreakingly leaned too far and fell out atop the roof of the New York Geological and Biographical Society building.

While everyone acknowledges the incident as both a tragedy and gut-wrenching accident, the facts around how this may have happened are even sadder. To begin with, the window in question did have a lock on it; however, it had been broken and never replaced. Furthermore, while New York City law requires that all apartment windows have guards placed on them; a city ruling in 1984 exempted condominiums. Hence, qualifying under this exemption, the Galleria had not been required to install window guards on the building.

The loss of his first son was obviously an incident which scarred Clapton. In an attempted mode of therapy, Clapton has written multiple songs on the subject including “Lonely Stranger” and “My Father’s Eyes.” His song “Circus,” from the 1998 album Pilgrim was written about the last time he saw his son having taken him to Coney Island. And of course, the most recognized song is the 1992 ballad “Tears in Heaven” which won three Grammys.

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