Chelsea Birds Are Watching You

Wanted to share some really neat details I noticed while scouting in Chelsea the other day. This building, at the corner of 23rd & Ninth, is known as London Terrace Gardens and actually stretches all the way to 10th Ave. When it was built in 1931, it was considered the largest apartment building in the world.


If you look closely on the top levels, you’ll spot some really neat statuary…


First, a pair of really pissed-off-looking birds on the south side…


Then, above, you’ll see another bird, who seems to be kneeling. Is it me, or does this thing not have a head?


Beside this one is some sort of wingless creature. I really couldn’t get a good angle, but it almost looks like a prostrate man…only again, no head!


Meanwhile, on the east side…


…You find a dopier looking bird with a beak that reminds me of a medico-style Venetian mask…


Il Dottore della peste- máscras venecianas - venetian mask

…and a side view of the weird bent-over winged creature.


Am I not looking at that right? Where is the head??


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  1. I live in London Terrace and noticed pieces of stonework stored on the courtyard facing penthouse terrace one story below the roof deck. Not permitted to go up until spring but I’ll bet his head is there.

    Bricks and things were falling from London Terrace a few years ago and they are in the middle of one gigantic re-pointing job.

  2. Hey Scout.. LOVE the site and check it whenever there is an update.. just a clarification. I live in the London Terrace building on 24th and 9th. The four corner buildings on the block of 23rd to 24th, 9th to 10th ave are London Terrace Towers (co-ops), the buildings along 23rd and 24th in the middle of the block are London Terrace Gardens (rentals).
    You are looking at the last pic correctly, there IS NO HEAD! Not sure of the story on that one.
    If you pop into the lobby of the “405” building (405 w. 23rd) they have one of those birds in the lobby (or maybe it’s a dragon, not sure).
    And on a cool random note… the “465” building is where Annie Liebowitz used to live with Susan Sontag many years ago and where a lot of great photos came out of.
    Again.. LOVE the blog… dan

  3. i’ve seen this before and always wondered about it! it’s such a huge buildling.

    Another strange thing in the neighborhood — I think it’s maybe around 19th or 20th, and 9th or 10th ave as well — there’s this whole area that mysteriously looks like a small old school ivy league campus or something, or a medieval convent, lots of grass and ivy-covered old brick buildings and church steeples and trees etc. It’s also quite visible from the Highline. It’s so unexpected — anyone know anything about this or is there a post about it already here or anything?

  4. Great shots!

    That totally reminds me that I need to go do the Gargoyle tour at the Washington National Cathedral. It’s been on my list of “Things to Do” for awhile … they even have a Darth Vader!

  5. I love your commentary.

  6. how often do you get rousted by the police and the paranoid? these days photographers taking pictures in public are the new criminal class.

  7. @Meg//Morningmidnight: you are probably referring to the General Theological Seminary campus. Website:
    The campus is open to the public and a treat.

  8. Excellent picture on

    The heads are clearly missing. Lets hunt for picture with complete statues.