Awesome Art Deco WPA Painting Hidden in a NYC Post Office

Last year for Open House NY (happening soon – get your tickets now!), I wrote about the 8th Avenue Post Office, and how 95% of it is completely vacant.

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I was recently there for a location scout, and while I was waiting for my contact, I noticed something I hadn’t on my first visit: this absolutely gorgeous art deco painting of New York City, located in the northeast corner of the building:

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This isn’t some retro installation or anything – this is the real deal, painted by artist Louis Lozowick at the height of the art deco movement as a Works Project Administration commission.

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Does it get any better than this? Entitled Manhattan Skyline, I love how New York is depicted as a geometrical metropolis, with a sense of power and permanence in its blocky design. The smoke and soot give the city a gritty, industrial feel, yet the soaring skyscrapers awash in sunlight feel almost futuristic, the cutting edge city of tomorrow. And all painted in those great shades of art deco brown.

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Towering 18 feet off the ground, Lozowick’s mural originally centered on a number of barges heading full steam toward the city.

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Sadly, the post office decided to cut this portion out in favor of a World War I memorial. Hey, I’m all for such a plaque…but was there seriously no other place to put it??

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I heard that many of you will be touring the Farley Post Office for OHNY. Be sure to give Lozowick’s often overlooked mural a look, as well as its sister piece in the southeast corner.

-SCOUT

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21 comments

  1. Hey, I know that post office! It’s the landmark I use when I get off the subway and need to know which way to walk to get to B+H!!!

    • The B&H catalogs are like porn to me, so I can’t imagine going to their store. I’d probably get kicked out for drooling on the merchandise.

  2. That really is an obnoxious place for a plaque

  3. I’ve always wanted to tour Moynihan Station but can’t figure out how to make an OHNY reservation – does anybody have a link or phone #? I looked here but it seems broken: http://ohny.org/site-programs/weekend/sites/moynihan-station-0

  4. Gorgeous. Thanks for the reveal.

  5. We need the WPA to come back. Like, now.

  6. Why on earth would they cover one piece of art with another; was there no other available wall space in that massive building? Blasphemy!

  7. There are these wonderful art works in most of the WPA post offices all over NYS (and I suppose the nation). I once saw a web site of photos of post office murals from around western NY on a Buffalo site.

  8. Go to Westfield, NJ and see scenes from colonial times by WPA artists.
    BTW, the original LaGuardia airport was the original terminal for the Eastern shuttle between NY and Washington in the late 1960’s. I used it many times. With my student ID card fares were $9 each way including tax.

  9. Saw that mural & plaque a million times when I used to go by stamps. A beautiful piece of art (pic & post office).

  10. If you’re ever on LI there are two awesome (and huge) murals by William Gropper in the Freeport Post Office. I walked in there one day for work and couldn’t believe how gorgeous both the building and the artwork were.

  11. And this is where we bought stamps for our postage? How quaint. Was this a more genteel age?

  12. Scout, do you have any sense of whether it’s truly painted in browns, or whether it just needs restoration? The mural here in Butler Library was in similar browns, I thought, until it was restored during our renovation and was revealed to be popping with color!

  13. Its not the Moynihan Station tour, its the Farley Post Office tour….Moynihan Station has not even been built yet…liberal propaganda! Moynihan Station is the yet to be constructed “Amtrak” rail hub that is going in the courtyard of the Farley Building….THEIR IS NO LEGISLATION REDEDICATING THE FARLEY P.O…..its a landmark.

  14. love Art Deco.
    I seem to recall from the time I lived in NYC that there are some nice Art Deco painting in the East 23rd Street Post OFfice.

    • I second that, I lived on east 22 for 12 years, great murals on the walls of the PO on 23rd between 3rd & Lex. I asked after them once when I was there, no one had much info on them.

  15. Farley is historically associated with the landmark, via he was Postmaster General at the time this artwork was commissioned and oversaw the expansion of the Postal Service under the New Deal. Yes it was commissioned under the WPA but the Postmaster General controlled the Federal Patronage as well. His building supply company also built the Annex….i hate it when history is distorted!

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  18. True story: Years ago I went into work with a big grin on my face because I had scored an amazing art book at a great price. One of my coworkers, puzzled by my cheer, pressed me to explain, and I told her the book reproduced lithographs of America’s, especially New York’s, industrial landscape. She said that was interesting, because her best friend’s grandfather was an artist who made “stuff like that.” I asked her what his name was. “Something kind of Russian sounding,” she said.

    “Louis Lozowick?” I asked.

    “Yeah, that’s it!”

    I was completely floored. Yep, that was who my new book was all about…

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