Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Sunday, December 21, 2008

3rd Street Patterns

This is another of those odd patterns that leaps out at one, once one notices it. The first photo below is from 3rd Street between 6th & 7th Avenues, north side; most of the street is lined with these monumental 8-family apartment houses. The buildings are 4 stories high, two apartments per floor, walkups; the gently-bayed facades create a pleasing rhythm as the buildings march down the hill toward 6th Avenue:

3rd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, north side; unprotected

Below is a closer view of one of these buildings from the south side of the same block. The doorway is protected by a flat entablature, flanked by columns. The central windows above the doorway light the interior staircase. First above the doorway is a rounded window with "Greek Ear" enframement; next up has a Gothic-style pointed arch; the window above that is a "flattened segmental" arch, rounded but flattened at the same time (there is probably a technical term for this, unknown to me):

458 3rd Street - unprotected

Meanwhile, just around the corner in 6th Avenue, toward 2nd Street, one finds nearly identical buildings... except 4-family, not 8-family, with windows that are "the same yet different". Note the identical doorways, flat entablature flanked by columns, and similarities in the window treatment above: Gothic-style pointed arch, with "flattened segmental" above that:

315-317 6th Avenue - unprotected

The similarities are so close as to suggest they might have come from the same hand.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

4-Family Flats

Do you ever start to notice odd patterns, certain repeating motifs, in your surroundings?

Consider the early apartment buildings pictured below. These are "4-family flats", each built to house one family per floor. There are 4-family apartment houses all over Park Slope, often with full-height, 3-sided bays. These apartments were frequently built in series, several buildings in a row, with continuous facade banding and cornices.

But beyond the general similarities amongst 4-family apartment buildings, one finds virtually identical buildings in different parts of Park Slope. The apartment buildings shown here all have light-colored brick over a brownstone first floor, with brownstone detailing above; arched windows at the 4th floor only; terra-cotta panels featuring "Green Men" (foliate heads) or medallions; and clusters of narrow columns framing the doorway.

426-418 2nd Street - unprotected

361 4th Street - unprotected

299 6th Avenue - unprotected

799-803 Union St. - unprotected

There are probably more of these out there... let us know if you find any!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

8-Family Flats

We have been looking at several common historic building styles in Park Slope (Italianate, Neo-Grec) both within and outside the boundaries of the current Park Slope Historic District. Most of the buildings we've seen are "rowhouses", originally single-family homes. However, many other historic buildings in Park Slope were originally built to house multiple families. One very common format is the "8-family", typically four stories, with two flats per floor, and no elevator.

Below is a view of 8th Street, park block (between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West, north side, looking east). All of these buildings are within the current Park Slope Historic District, and all of them are "8-family flats". The Park Slope Historic District Designation Report reads:

"The north side...presents an almost solid wall of four-story apartment houses. Their materials consist of light-colored shades of brick, with limestone trim, which harmonizes with the houses across the street. Their height is visually minimized by the concentration of architectural elements and details at the ground floor level, while their full-height bays create a wavy undulation at the skyline."

Eighth Street, Park Slope Historic District

The report continues on to say that these apartment houses, "basically neo-Georgian in style", were begun in 1904 for John Wilson and were designed by Brooklyn architect Henry Pohlman. Below is a closer view of one of these apartment buildings:

537 8th Street, Park Slope Historic District

Meanwhile, in Carroll Street below 7th Avenue, one finds a very similar row of 8-family apartment houses. Below is the view looking east, toward 7th Avenue:

Carroll Street between 6th & 7th Avenues - unprotected

It is not unreasonable to assume that this row in Carroll Street, so similar in style to the row in 8th Street, must have been built within a few years of 1904, when the 8th Street buildings were erected. Yet, these buildings are not protected by Historic District designation.

Below is a closer view in Carroll Street:

717-719 Carroll Street - unprotected

A Historic District comprises buildings of many types and functions, including 8-family apartment houses like the ones shown here.