1920s and 30s Architecture

Whether you are looking at 1920s and 30s architecture in New York, Chicago, Australia, France, India, or anywhere around the world, it is easy to see that buildings of this period have a distinct style. Hover over any image below to learn the topic of the article and for the option to read the full article. 

Kathryn E. Holliday explores New York City's generation of tall, telephone building architecture built throughout the city and across the country during the 1920s and how the style redefined the telephone company’s public image as progressive and modern, while also emphasizing efficiency and pragmatism. 

New York's Urban Giants:
Bell Telephone in the 1920s

Of all the world’s great cities, none is so defined by its 1920s and 30s architecture, design, and culture as

New York!


This introduction gives an overview of what was happening in New York during the period. 

New York Deco: An Introduction

Susan Tunick explores how the sweeping changes that occurred in American architecture during the Art Deco era—especially in New York—were greatly amplified by the versatile qualities of terra cotta, a material that brought a new expressiveness to the buildings and skylines of cities across America.

Art Deco Terra Cotta

Robin Grow invites you to explore the wonderful Art Deco architecture and design in Melbourne, Australia.


For lovers of Art Deco architecture, this article explains why Melbourne is one of the world’s great Art Deco cities. 

Melbourne Art Deco &


In this unique article, Anthony W. Robins recounts his conversation with the wife of William Lamb, one of the architects of the Empire State Building. They chatted about the building and her husband’s career, including interesting insights  her husband's experience designing this iconic building.

Mrs. William Lamb Reminisces

In this unique article, Anthony W. Robins interviews the architect and remembers the wonderful Art Deco architecture and design of New York's old Horn & Hardart Automats with great affection.

Art Deco Automats in 1930:

Interview with the Architect

Andrew Scott Dolkart, Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia, discusses his role in the discovery of New York’s only Lalique-designed glass building façade. It would have been destroyed but for his curiosity and determination. Restored and repaired, Lalique’s windows now sparkle!

Rescuing Lalique's Glass Façade

In this article, Mary Beth Betts explores how advocates for historic preservation learned that one effective way to keep old buildings standing was adaptive reuse. Today, some of the most extraordinary and successful examples of adaptive reuse involve major skyscrapers, and in particular Deco office towers.

Transforming Manhattan's

Art Deco Office Towers

John Tauranac explores how the Empire State Building is enshrined in New York City’s Art Deco firmament, but suggests that the building is hardly an Art Deco extravaganza. In this article, Tauranac proposes that building is more a functionalist’s ideal than an Art Deco fantasy.

Icon of the City

In this article, Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, explores how1931 saw the completion of a number of architectural projects—commercial, residential, and educational—despite the economic downturn that began with the 1929 stock market crash.

From Wall Street to Midtown:
Art Deco Goes Commercial

Alma Kadragic explores how the Art Deco style of architecture and design was utilized in the building of new schools through out New York City, specifically Herman Ridder Junior High School and the New School for Social Research.

Art Deco Innovations in Schools

Kate Wood looks at how the twin towers of the residences on Central Park West create an Art Deco skyline profile that is practically synonymous with the Upper West Side and New York. These residential buildings exemplify the last exuberant blast of development before the Great Depression.

The Iconic Residences of

Central Park West

In this insightful article, Frank J. Prial, Jr., associate partner with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, recounts the twists and turns that the team encountered throughout the stunning restoration of the Empire State Building.

Restoring a Landmark

Pierre Chareau was one of the most sought-after designers in France. His talent at integrating architecture and interior design into a harmonious entity attracted an elite clientele with a taste for the modern.

Pierre Chareau: Modern 
Architecture and Design

The streets of Paris are filled with Art Deco architecture and design delights just waiting to be experienced. In June 2016, eleven Art Deco Society of New York Board members and upper-level donors discovered many of them during a special six-day, Destination Deco, guided tour of the French capital organized by the Paris Art Deco Society.

Art Deco à la Française

Design elements of Art Deco architecture and decorative arts include everything from the luxurious Egyptian motifs of King Tut’s tomb––the discovery in 1922 stirred the world’s imagination––to the futuristic art movements of Fauvism, Cubism, Bauhaus, and others.

Art Deco Origins & Influences

Want to learn more? The Art Deco Society of New York has been compiling a listing of books and materials that focus on Art Deco architecture, design, and the culture of the 1920s and 30s.

The list is by no means complete but there are wonderful materials for you to enjoy.

Book List