In between the World Wars, as New York’s middle-class population was burgeoning and the city was developing at a rapid pace, a new brand of architecture came into existence. Today, we know the style as Art Deco. Characterized by all things bold, angular, striking, and theatrical, Art Deco was the bridge between classical intricacy and modern minimalism, but it has a unique style all its own.
Now, New York City is the worldwide capital of the architectural style, with some of its Art Deco buildings becoming undeniably iconic and world-famous, like the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. Others are lesser-known, but all are emblems of a unique time in American history when jazz was taking the city by storm and new levels of freedom were suddenly attainable for more people than ever before. Read on to discover 10 of the most beautiful, lesser-known Art Deco buildings, from subway stations, to garden gates, to luxury apartments, and more.
1. Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza
Located next to the entrance to Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Public Library is easily recognizable due to its massive and striking entranceway characterized by 50-foot columns embellished with luminescent light-gold figures. The library is a tribute to learning and literature, an inviting and imposing presence that touches on modern Art Deco elements while honoring the thinkers and icons of the past.
The library was made mostly of unblemished limestone, a smooth light material broken only by its stunning entranceway. Above the entrance’s doors, the sculptor Thomas H. Jones designed 15 squares, each bearing the insignia of a unique character from American literature, such as Edgar Allan Poe‘s Raven, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. Below Jones’ designs, C. Paul Jennewin also created 15 squares that hold golden reliefs of important figures in the development of science and art. Its columns are emblazoned with the golden silhouettes of famous mythological figures.