Untapped Cities reader @moment_NY submitted this photo via Twitter, asking us “Do you know the history of this wall art at 45th St & Berrian Blvd, Queens?” A little digging revealed that this is part of the Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, across from Rikers Island. The WPA-style sculptural relief dates back to the original Art Deco building that was part of the Department of Public Works, and you can see the 1940 cornerstone on the right hand side. Elsewhere on the building, you’ll see the glass blocks and curved walls that are characteristic of the public architecture of the time period.
Although the building’s decoration was clearly intended for public as a message of the government’s good works, today the building is fenced off and this grand entrance unused. As such, the building directly encapsulates the evolution of the public’s relationship with government architecture from the Great Depression until now.
Another fun note, from Forgotten NY, is that the whole treatment plant sits atop the former Luyster’s Island, another sign of the advance of New York City’s shoreline.