Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sunset Park's Art Deco Waterfront

This early 1900s example of Art Deco industrial architecture is the Commodore Manufacturing Corporation, Criterion Bell & Specialty at 140 43rd Street on 2nd Avenue in Sunset Park. Commodore distributes Christmas ornaments, and there are a bunch of other small manufacturers in the building. This building is part of the Sunset Park waterfront district, which was a major maritime port from the turn of the century until the 1960s.

Property Shark says this beauty was built in 1917. It has many similarities in style to the nearby Brooklyn Army Terminal, which was built the next year, in 1918. I learned from the Municipal Art Society that a number of Art Deco commercial buildings were built in downtown Brooklyn during the Depression, including the Woolworth Building on Fulton Mall, and what was at the time the Brooklyn office for the New York Times. I didn't realize that Art Deco got started that early, but I'm no architecture expert so what do I know. Check out the gorgeous details on the stone facade! I really like how the metal bannister echoes the carved stone walls.

If you were to walk straight uphill from here, you'd hit Sunset Park, the neighborhood namesake and the highest point in Brooklyn. The park is a great place to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.


Sunset Parker said...

The highest point in Brooklyn is actually Battle Hill in Greenwood Cemetery, directly opposite the Statue of Liberty. Still in Sunset Park though (the neighborhood, not the park). The observation Deck in Sunset Park (the park) IS an awesome place to check out fireworks/sunsets etc, but is a few dozen feet lower than Battle Hill and even a tad lower than the ridge running through the neighborhood (along sixth ave) into Bay Ridge.

Sunset Parker said...

Also, as far as Brooklyn and Art Deco, the glorious Williamsburgh Savings Bank (largest four-faced clock in the world) was built in 1927 (and planning obviously began a few years earlier). Many other art deco skyscrapers were planned for the area (putting a dent in some of the current arguments regarding development in the area- arguments it seems almost exclusively put forward by Brooklyn newcomers, but I digress), in an attempt to match Manhattan's downtown in a twin city type bid; but then the stock market crashed, the real estate market crumbled, the Depression happened and then we got into WW II. After the war, given a choice between continuing the LONGPLANNED DEVELOPMENT of the area or tearing the city apart to follow Robert Moses' twisted automobile-centric fetish, the city went with Moses' vision; ALWAYS PLANNING on revisiting the idea of more skyscrapers in downtown Brooklyn. Of course, after the fifties and sixties, and Moses' disasters (in Brooklyn, Sunset Park was the main neighborhood most torn apart by his highways) NYC went bankrupt in the '70's and only got back on its feet in the late '80's. Here we are twenty years later, with the sky high development THAT HAD BEEN PLANNED FOR EIGHTY YEARS ready to go and some act as though it has come out of nowhere...