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NYC Interior Landmarks Ne w York School of Design Exhibit-Manhattan-Brooklyn

In landmarking, there’s a distinction between interior and exterior designation in New York City. Now, the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) has as a wonderful web resource with beautiful photographs of the interior landmarks of the city, launched in conjunction with the school’s exhibit “Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Interior Landmarks.”

Interior landmarking became part of the NYC Landmarks Law, itself based in 1965, in 1973. There are 117 interior landmarks in NYC, most of which are in Manhattan (94) but there are 8 in the Bronx, 8 in Brooklyn, 4 in Queens and 3 in Staten Island. Any publicly accessible interior is eligible for landmarking, but as we well know, numerous places, like the Woolworth Building lobby, have entered a gray zone regarding accessibility following 9/11.

Ford Foundation tropical garden Untapped CitiesThe tropical foliage and pond inside the Ford Foundation Building. Source: KRJDA.

Some fun facts from the NYSID website about interior landmarking before we highlight the sites by borough:

  • The oldest interior landmark is City Hall, built in 1812
  • The newest interior landmark is the Ford Foundation from 1967
  • Anybody can propose an interior landmark by submitting a Request for Evaluation to the LPC
  • Interior landmarks must be over 30 years old
  • The Law specifically avoids First Amendment entanglements by excluding “places of religious worship,” despite the quality of such interiors in New York, among the  city’s “finest” NYSID writes
  • Moveable furnishings cannot be counted in a landmark interior

On the website you can filter by borough or view through map view. We’ll be highlighting 5 locations from each borough, starting with Manhattan and Brooklyn:

Manhattan

1. Woolworth Building

Woolworth-Building-Mezzanine-Interior-Landmark-NYC

At the 10 year anniversary, the building started running tours of the impressive lobby allowing the public to enter in small numbers. Join our next tour on April 18th, which includes the lobby and the basement with former entrances to the subway system.

2. Tweed Courthouse

Tweed Courthouse-Interior Landmark-NYCPhoto by Larry Lederman via NYSID

Built through graft, to be the epitome of Boss Tweed’s political machine, the Tweed Courthouse lay unused and falling into disrepair until a 1999 renovation headed by Mayor Guiliani. Now, it is the headquarters of the New York Public School system and has a charter school in the basement. Public tours are available.

3. City Hall Subway Station

This decommissioned subway station was the real jewel of the IRT subway line when it opened, with Guastavino tiling and a curved track. With a platform too short for the new trains, it has been closed but is open for tours through the New York Transit Museum.

4. Four Seasons Restaurant

Four Seasons Restaurant-Phillip Johnson-Seagram Building-Park Avenue-Mies van der Rohe-NYC-009

Inside the Seagram Building, also an interior landmark, the Four Seasons is a New York City power lunch institution. Take a look inside.

5. Cunard Building

Cunard Building-Interior Landmark-NYCPhoto by Larry Lederman via NYSID

This was the place where you would buy steamship tickets to the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The Cunard Building now Cipriani and has appeared as a film location recently in The Blacklist.

The list of interior landmarks in Manhattan is long and impressive. Check out the nearly 90 others here.

Brooklyn

1. Williamsburgh Savings Bank

Williamsburgh Savings Bank-Brooklyn-Interior Landmark-NYCPhoto by Larry Lederman via NYSID

New Yorkers and Brooklynites may remember this as the downtown Brooklyn location of the Brooklyn Flea (and also perhaps for a performance by Kanye West). In 2006, the building was converted into condos. And yes, Williamsburgh Savings Bank has an “h” at the end of Williamsburgh: Find out why.

2. Sunset Play Center Bath House

Sunset Play Center Bathhouse-Brooklyn-Interioer Landmark-NYCPhoto by Malcolm Pinckney/NYC Parks

This circular WPA-era bath house was part of an initiative to add recreational facilities in underserved areas. The Landmarks Preservation Commission called this building, renovated in 1982 and still part of NYC Parks, “among the most remarkable public recreational facilities ever constructed in the US.”

3. Brooklyn Historical Society Ohtmer Library

Brooklyn Historical Society-Interior-Library-Weddings-Brooklyn-Landmark-NYCImage via Brooklyn Historical Society

The impressive Othmer Library began as part of the Long Island Historical Society, and still supports the Brooklyn Historical Society mission and education initiatives. Do a quick image search and you’ll see some rowdy weddings also take place in this sanctuary.

4. Original Gage & Toller Restaurant

Gage and Tollner-Fulton Street-Arbys-Interior Landmark-Brooklyn-NYC-2

This 19th century Fulton Street institution was designated in 1975 and most recently housed (to most people’s chagrin) an Arby’s which has closed.

5. Williamsburgh Savings Bank

Williamsburgh Savings Bank-Interior Landmark-Brooklyn-NYCPhoto by Larry Lederman via NYSID

Another location of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, this domed building off the Williamsburg bridge is now the Weylin B. Seymour event space. Check out photographs from the painstaking restoration here.

More interior landmarks from Brooklyn here.

Next, see the interior landmarks of Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Also check out the oldest surviving video footage of many of NYC’s landmarks. Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.

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