The Creepy Book-Reading Gargoyle at West 181st Street

I was waiting at a light yesterday at the corner of 181st and Fort Washington Ave, when I happened to look up at the building on the corner…


…and noticed a line of human gargoyles perched near the top. But one in particular quickly caught my eye…


A very creepy book-reading gargoyle.


Here’s another angle. The glasses are a great touch – but what is he reading to provoke such a reaction??


There are two others. This guy…


…and this fellow:


In fact, that last guy looks frighteningly like one of the figures at 527 West 110th Street, which I wrote about four years ago…

110th 04

Couldn’t find confirmation, but would not be at all surprised if they were by the same sculptor.


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  1. saying creepy and human gargoyles is redundant.

  2. these look kinda similar to the ones in the woolworth building

  3. There are some similar gargoyles (or grotesques, really) on a building on 110th between Broadway and Amsterdam. Creepy (but kinda funny at the same time).

  4. Wonder if anyone’s thought of putting surveillance cameras in gargoyles.Creepy Big Brothers!

  5. I’m betting that each one is represents an actual person that was a predominant figure at the time.

  6. I’ve lived off of 181st and Fort Washington for six years and I love, love, LOVE these gargoyles. Thank you for sharing!

  7. There are similar gargoyles on a building here in Toronto — similar faces (no glasses, though), and reading books. The building is a TV station’s studio space now, but it used to be a publishing house… and a Freemason Temple. I wonder if that connects up with the history of these buildings at all.


    City College of New York has approximately 600 grotesques on a couple of its buildings. I’ve linked to my flickr account and some pictures that I took of them.

    Someone else took a picture of another book-reading grotesque and put it on a blog

  9. Despite working in publishing, the one with the book isn’t the one I find most intriguing. It’s the last one – the one holding what appears to be a whole roasted chicken. I had no idea Boston Market had been around so long.

  10. I found a great picture online at the Museum of the city of NY on their archives site. I hope this link works.

    If it doesn’t, try searching for Nathan Hale Apartments, 181st St. & Washington Ave, on the website

    I saw the picture there first and then found your page here. I love this stuff. I’m going to put a then/now picture up on my webpage. I hope you don’t mind I use your picture. I will credit you and reference your page.

    Thanks for bringing attention to these lovely gargoyles.