Why I Love Scouting Apartment Lobbies In The Bronx

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into an art deco apartment building in the Bronx.

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I was taking pictures of a mural on a Grand Concourse building, when a passerby suggested I check out the interior. I headed through the nondescript entrance hallway…

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…into what has to be one of the most beautiful apartment lobbies in New York City:

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I’ve been in a lot of apartment buildings – trust me when I say it doesn’t get much better than this:

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What really blew me away was the gorgeous terrazzo floor, which I wrote about it back in January 2012.

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Built in 1937, 1150 Grand Concourse’s floor is an explosion of deco beauty in fiery reds and yellows. At the time, I remember thinking how lucky I was to stumble across such a rarity.

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I’ve been scouting a lot of apartment buildings in the Bronx in the past few weeks, and while no building might equal the mastery of 1150 Grand Concourse, there are some beautifully imaginative and unique art deco terrazzo floors out there, many in buildings that have otherwise been forgotten. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

Here’s another beauty on Grand Concourse:

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Doesn’t the repetition of symbols almost feel like alien hieroglyphics?

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Close-up of the floor:

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The terrazzo designs continue up into the wings of the lobby…

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…where you find this great swoop design:

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I would be remiss not to highlight the fantastic mosaics on either side of the lobby’s central fireplace…

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…a wonderful menagerie of colorfully depicted animals:

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A deer:

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A bird:

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Seahorses!

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Another bird:

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Here’s another great lobby along Grand Concourse…

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…which has sort of a ying/yang theme to it:

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This is a really unusual one I like on Jerome Ave:

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I love the mixture of basic shapes, in almost crop circle-like patterns:

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The dashes and squares lead right up to the elevator:

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I was told by the doorman that the building below was one of the first art decos to be constructed in the Bronx. And while its terrazzo floor might be a bit more basic…

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…I love the two wings…

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…where you find the floor pattern…

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…reflected overhead on the ceiling:

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Even when the lobbies are smaller, the architects still went out of their way to create some distinctive patterns. Here’s a very small lobby on Tiebout Ave…

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…which nevertheless has a fantastic mixture of p-shapes and arrows:

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Close-up:

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What amazes me to no end is that I have yet to see a pattern repeated. Even when the designs are simpler, like this flower burst…

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…or these circles…

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…or these emblems, each is still totally unique:

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Finally, here’s one last example along Grand Concourse, whose entrance alone is worth mentioning…

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…a beautiful gold mosaic surrounding its revolving door:

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Inside is a compass-like pattern centered around a gold mosaic fountain:

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Never underestimate the Bronx – there is a tremendous amount of beauty to be found if you take the time to look.

-SCOUT

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30 comments

  1. These floors sort of remind me of boardgames.

  2. Outstanding.

    Thank you.

  3. I enjoyed these pics very much. Thank you for posting

  4. Stunning. I wonder what our legacy will be.

  5. Amazing photos; the Grand Boulevard and Concourse has a lot of (IMHO) underappreciated beauty and it’s good to see galleries like this showcasing some of it!

  6. Those deco elevator doors are something special too!

  7. Do you know if these are New Deal-era WPA commissions?

  8. Jenny Islander

    Is that an actual fireplace? As in, could you really burn wood in it?

  9. Fabulous- I do walking tours in the Bronx and often include the Art Deco Grand Concourse
    They were not WPA commissioned-they were private builders.

  10. Scout, I thoroughly enjoyed this posting! I was born-and-bred in the Bronx, including about 13 yrs in Morris Heights and about 6 yrs on the Grand Concourse. Were these two photos taken in the lobby of 910 Grand Concourse? Do you have any vintage pics of that building?
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/8733481033/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/8733481281/
    Thanks!

  11. Beautiful. Here in upstate New York, we have some outstanding Art Deco buildings, too. One example is West Middle School in Binghamton,New York, the junior high that Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame went to. I grew up in the Bronx and spent many happy hours on the Grand Concourse.

  12. I am so proud of what I’ve known for years can be discovered on the Grand Concourse. These pictures are amazing, but there is so much more to be revealed (1920 vintage buildings like 1075, 1555 & 1560 Grand Concourse). Its great that most of the locations shown here are within the Grand Concourse Historic District-meaning they are virtually here to stay. The sad part is however, is that most these same locations have been undermaintained for nearly forty years and therefore could really benefit from some investment, love and attention. This is a super-start and for that we should all be really appeciative.

  13. Jo Anne Benware

    I grew up in the Bronx also. Lived around the corner from Alexanders at 190th street then moved to 2802 Grand Concourse corner of 197th. To be honest I never ventured past 189th. But I knew of the beautiful lobbies a lot of the building had.
    This is great. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  14. Contact me. I am putting together a coffee table book on Bronx Deco lobbies already in the process.
    There is an INSANE amount of deco lobbies scattered all over the borough.

    • I lived at 2255 Grand Concourse (182 st.) which had a magnificent lobby. I haven’t seen the interior of the building in years so I suggest you check it out. They did remove the beautiful brass front doors, however so I hope the lobby is intact. The furniture is, of course, long gone.

  15. Check out the lobby at 275 W 238th st. It is a pre- war luxury building. What I remember the lobby was beautiful.

  16. Thank you for sharing I grew up in the Bronx,moved away 26 years ago . It is so nice to see that someone has shared the beauty most people will never know about the Bronx. Hope to see in the future.

  17. I grew up as the superintendent’s kid at 1244 Grand Concourse from 1953 to 1961, shoveling coal into those furnaces and making sure the dumbwaiters worked in that beautiful building.

  18. Great scouting job. IMHO Deco/Moderne was the high point of design in this country. Thank you so much for sharing these with us. Any idea what the apartments look like?

  19. Jennifer Gould

    I have been reading your blog for the past few years. I discovered it when I was planning my first trip to New York and was reading all I could find on the city. I keep coming back because I love your photos and the research that you put in to your posts. I find your enthusiasm inspiring. Your excitement when you discover something really unique and beautiful comes through in your posts. Keep up the good work. Thank you.

  20. I agree – great scouting job. These are beautiful lobbies.

  21. The murals of animals by the fireplace, are made of “trencadis” technique used by Gaudí.

  22. There’s a glimpse of what looks an apartment in 1150 Grand Concourse in 1949 (anyone knows Mr. P. Benson?)
    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=residence%20at%201150%20Grand%20Concourse

  23. this would be a great place for some Bioshock cosplay

  24. The moment I saw the title of this entry I KNEW that 888 Grand Concourse would be mentioned! I took a really long walk along that street one day and was stunned by the beauty of it.

    1150 Grand Concourse is amazing. I’ll have to take a closer look sometime.

  25. All of this is wonderful, and none of it is a surprise to Bronxites of my generation and before. That the Bronx is being Rediscovered warms all our hearts. The buildings meant a lot, but were nothing compared to the experience of growing up with an ocean of friends and endless opportunity.

    The Lewis Morris was, for decades, THE address in the Bronx.

    Try our 939 Woodycrest Avenue’s two lobbies the next time you’re near the Stadium, and 1005 jerome as well.

    What a great thing this site is, stumbled onto by following the links from the Times article on the I. Miller building. Thank you.

  26. The Bronx used to be the upscale area of NYC. Things have changed.

  27. Always heard of these magnificent lobbies up in the Bronx, but never got to see them. The grand old buildings in the upper west side, where I grew up, pale in comparison to these beauties, only because they haven’t been kept up. It’s a shame that these ones glorious buildings, that were so up scale and grand, are now but a shadow of their once magnificent grandeur, due to changing neighborhoods. Thank you for finally letting me see these magnificent “Art Deco ladies”.

  28. Exquisite art deco interiors. I’m from London but there are precious few of this quality in the ‘Smoke’.

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