Exploring Deco in . . .
Exploring Deco In . . . is a column featured in each issue of the Art Deco New York journal. The column focuses on highlighting Art Deco architecture and design in various neighborhoods and cultural centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. In each column, architectural and design historians give a brief history of a specific area; explain why the Deco movement spread throughout that region during the interwar period; and explore the unique social climate or cultural context that fostered the Art Deco style in that neighborhood of interest.
To help readers delve into the special architecture and design highlighted in each column, historians also include a map and short overview of regional treasures that create the perfect resource for self-guided walking tours. Hover over the images below to learn more about each Art Deco center we have included in the Exploring Deco In . . . column so far.
The neighborhood of Bay Ridge, in southwest Brooklyn, hugs the New York harbor and is embraced by parks. Originally settled by the Lenape tribe, the area was claimed in the 1620s by the Dutch, and evolved into a summer resort for the wealthy in the 1800s. It did not become part of Brooklyn until 1896, two years before the consolidation of New York City. The area boasts a surprising collection of Deco architecture!
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Although Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach may not have a reputation as an Art Deco mecca, a closer examination into the interwar past of this neighborhood on the Coney Island peninsula shows it to be one of the city’s top destinations for Art Deco explorers. Take a stroll below its elevated subway tracks and you’ll discover buildings that, albeit modest in scale, rival those found on the Grand Concourse in The Bronx.
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
Following the completion of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company’s (IRT) Jerome Avenue line in 1918, the Bronx became New York City’s "Wonder Borough". In October 1929, however, everything came to a halt. The Great Depression was on, and it hit the Bronx especially hard. The area has one of the city's largest enclaves of surviving Art Deco apartment houses but they need protected!
Grand Concourse, Bronx
Though the High Line generates considerably more attention than almost anything in Chelsea, this midtown neighborhood also contains frequently overlooked Art Deco gems.
The prominent American artist Hildreth Meière undertook more than 100 major commissions from leading architects for projects across the United States. Her impressive career extended from the mid-1920s until her death in 1961. You can still see Meière’s designs today at sites throughout the country, but this tour highlights how New York City boasts some of her most significant works.
Hildreth Meière’s Manhattan
For the Art Deco fancier, a visit to Rockefeller Center is a must. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. originally planned the Center as a commercial complex surrounding a new home for the Metropolitan Opera. When the Met dropped out following the 1929 crash, Rockefeller reimagined Metropolitan Square as Radio City, bringing NBC and its parent company, RCA, to be the flagship tenants.
Rockefeller Center, Manhattan
Not far from the northern tip of Manhattan, Washington Heights perches high on a hill overlooking the Hudson River. Although best known for The Met Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of medieval art and architecture, Washington Heights can boast another fine collection––its Art Deco buildings. Many of these residential buildings boast original lobbies and are worth the trip!