For the past five months, I’ve been working on a movie shooting exclusively in the Bronx, and almost every day, I’ve driven up Jerome Avenue, passing Gate 2 of Yankee Stadium on the right…
…and this gorgeous art deco building on the left, located at 1005 Jerome Avenue:
Built in 1931, the mammoth 8-story, six-bay-wide Park Plaza Apartments building is dripping with all sorts of great detail, but I could never really make out much from my car. On the last day of filming, I finally pulled over to take a closer look.
The first thing that caught my eye were the beautiful terracotta murals covering the building:
The motifs alternate between a brilliant sun rising behind an apartment building…
…and this whimsical fountain, surrounded on both sides by swans:
Here are some close-ups. The apartment pictured resembles the actual building in a lot of ways, but seems more classical in design – almost like it’s the non-art-deco version of 1005 Jerome Ave:
But how beautiful is this fountain? I can only imagine how vibrant the colors were back in the 1930s:
The terracotta murals repeat across the front of the building…
…wrapping around to the inner wings and abutting the arched balconies:
Every once in a while, one additional and particularly interesting piece is inserted into the pattern…
…this great scene of a man making an offering of a skyscraper at an altar topped by the Parthenon – perhaps an architect looking for symbolic approval from the classics of old?
Also lining the building are dozens of fantastic art deco animal sculptures:
Among my favorites are the rows of birds…
…which are each wonderfully haunting in their own jagged way:
Here’s the third:
More birds can be found over the main entrance way:
My favorite is this owl:
As you move along, even more animals can be found mounted to the brick.
Here, we have two wolves…
…flanking a totally awesome deco frog:
A little further on, the wolves repeat themselves…
…but this time, the frog has been replaced by a squirrel:
There are plenty more geometric terracotta designs to be found in just about every corner of the building…
Also of note are the insane gate designs at the ground level – note the three totally different patterns found in the cast-iron fencing:
Just inside the gates, you find an ascending pyramid motif…
Here’s a close-up – definitely can’t help but feel an Egyptian influence:
You would think the building designers would just repeat the gates for simplicity, but nope – the next one down features a totally different swirling pattern:
The inner fence design:
Even the little gate to the back alley has a little bit of design work…
…including these flattened pyramids:
The entrance is surrounded by frosted glass blocks…
…and is flanked on either sides by columns surrounding a terracotta goat:
Six-sided lanterns abut either side:
I ducked into the lobby, which features a sunburst pattern on the ground…
…and this heavenly alcove in the ceiling:
But my favorite was the pair of light-framed doors:
I mean, come on – how great would it be to pass through this doorway on your way home each day?
A few more bits and pieces can be found…
The mirrors were once decorated with these great jungle-like scenes (sadly, most seem to have faded).
Above, the elevator, you’re being watched:
Finally, a couple of these guys round it all off.
According to the 1981 NYC Landmarks report, “designer Marvin Fine knew of and consciously synthesized the major elements of the new modernistic skyscraper style being developed in Manhattan by Raymond Hood and William Van Alen and adapted them to the lowrise apartment houses of New York’s residential neighborhoods.”
Named an Historic Landmark in 1981, 1005 Jerome Avenue recently switched hands and things are looking up for the building as renovations begin.
Next time you take a trip up to see the Bronx Bombers, it’s worth a quick visit to the other cathedral on Jerome, located just across the street.
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