Tag Archives: 1935

Bronx County Building

Bronx County Building (originally Bronx County Courthouse) is a monumental landmark of limestone and marble that blends modern and classical forms. It is made more prominent by its siting, raised on a granite podium between two parks – Joyce Kilmer Park to the north, Franz Sigel Park to the south.

The podium, most visible on the west and north facades, is functional: It contains a garage, among other things.

The design is symmetrical, each side almost identical except for the sculpture. A six-columned portico is centered on each side, flanked by a pair of pink marble sculpture groups. The north and south facades are broken by 13 lines of windows; the east and west facades have 15 bays. Polished copper spandrels separate the windows; the first-floor spandrels have nickel inlays.

The county’s judicial needs have outgrown the building – at one point the building was so crowded that there were reports of juries deliberating in storage rooms. Larger courts have since been built to the east on E 161st Street and to the north on Grand Concourse. The building now serves as the Bronx County municipal building.

Bronx County Building Vital Statistics
Bronx County Building Recommended Reading

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711 Brightwater Court

711 Brightwater Court is a colorful six-story Art Deco apartment building in Brighton Beach, “Little Odessa,” a short block from the Boardwalk.

Confession: I didn’t discover this by researching in AIA Guide to New York City or NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. I spotted it in an episode of the sci-fi series “Person of Interest.” (The program uses NYC locales even to masquerade as foreign cities.)

Some of the terra cotta needs repair or replacement, but I hope I look as good when I reach 80 years old!

I couldn’t find the name of the architect – if anyone knows, please let me know via the Contact form. Thanks!

711 Brightwater Court Vital Statistics
711 Brightwater Court Recommended Reading

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Sunnyside Gardens

Sunnyside Gardens is among America’s first planned communities. (Forest Hills Gardens began development in 1909.) Although the architecture itself is not extraordinary, the integration of green spaces and enforced uniformity creates a distinctly suburban ambience. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in New York City anymore.

The 600-building development by City Housing Corporation was created under guidelines of the Regional Planning Association of America, according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, and based on the English Garden City concept. It was built in stages, from 1924 through 1935. Two architects – Clarence Stein and Henry Wright – designed the buildings; landscaping was designed by Marjorie Sewell Cautley.

The entire 16-block area was planned as affordable housing for working-class families. Economies of scale, the use of common brick throughout, and innovative financing schemes made good on the “affordable” promise. (Forest Hills Gardens, another planned community four-and-a-half miles to the southeast, began as “affordable housing” but wound up as anything but.)

Although the majority of the units are semi-detached two-story homes built around common garden courtyards, there are also a few four-story apartment buildings and two super-block six-story complexes (Phipps Garden Apartments and Sunnyside Garden Apartments).

The developers tried to protect the community’s shared green spaces by including 40-year easements in the deeds. As these easements expired in the 1960s, some homeowners began fencing and building. In response, in 1974 the Department of City Planning designated Sunnyside Gardens a special planned community preservation district. In 2007 the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission conferred landmark status.

Sunnyside Gardens Vital Statistics
Sunnyside Gardens Recommended Reading

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Health, Hospitals, and Sanitation Building

The Health, Hospitals, and Sanitation Building (formerly NYC Department of Health Building) overlooks Thomas Paine Park and Foley Square, surrounded by the federal, state and city courts of Manhattan’s Civic Center. It’s a restrained Art Deco granite cube, 10 stories high, pierced on the Leonard Street side by a light court above the third floor.

The principal decorations are bronze grillwork and torcheres, and health-themed medallions on the sides of the building by Oscar Bach, whose work also adorns Radio City Music Hall, the Woolworth, Chrysler, and Empire State Buildings – among other landmarks.

The joy is in the details.

Health, Hospitals, and Sanitation Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 125 Worth Street, between Lafayette and Centre Streets
  • Year completed: 1935
  • Architect: Charles B. Meyers
  • Floors: 10
  • Style: Art Deco
Health, Hospitals, and Sanitation Building Suggested Reading
  • Department of Citywide Administrative Services listing
  • Emporis database
  • Ephemeral New York blog
  • Eating in Translation blog

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