One of my favorite things to stumble across are bits of architectural ornamentation that are nearly invisible from the street. Case in point: 150 Nassau, near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Looking up from the ground, this is the view. You can tell there’s a bit of detailing at the top, but it’s too difficult to really make anything out in particular, and I imagine the vast majority of people walk right by without giving it a second thought.
But the other day, I happened to be on the neighboring roof when I noticed something really interesting…
These beautiful angel sculptures mounted in each corner:
Twenty-feet in height, the four terra-cotta angels adorning 150 Nassau’s penthouse were created by Spanish-American sculptor Fernando Miranda in 1895/6. The building itself, once among the tallest in the city, was built by the American Tract Society, a religious publisher who set up shop in New York due to it being a center of wickedness.
There’s something endlessly fascinating to me about creating something so detailed that will nevertheless only be appreciated by the rare few who happen to catch a glimpse from a neighboring window. I love how the extending wings seem to transition from beaux arts to an almost art deco look:
All four angels were recently given a full restoration by Boston Valley Terra Cotta, having fallen into significant disrepair over the past 100+ years. Below, an original angel strapped to the building to prevent an accidental fall. You can read all about the restoration process here:
Finally, topping each of the angels is a globe lamp, which were recently replicated from photographs of the originals. Note the lion head, another bit that is literally invisible at street level.
You can actually get a good view of the angels across the street near the southeast corner of City Hall. Definitely worth checking out, right before you get back to your daily wickedness…
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