It’s School Week here on Brownstoner — a series of posts celebrating the start of the school year.

I did not grow up in New York City, so I never had the opportunity to be educated in a school designed by the great Charles B.J. Snyder. But his influence on school architecture extended far beyond the city’s borders, and my education was still affected by the innovations and principles he devised.

C.B.J. Snyder was born in 1860 and died in 1945. Between 1891 and 1897 he was the Superintendent of School Buildings for Manhattan and the Bronx, and after the creation of Greater New York in 1898, became the architect of all of the city’s schools until he retired in 1923.

Building at a Time of Great Growth in the City

Snyder was the school architect at the busiest time in New York City’s history. His predecessor only had to worry about Manhattan and the Bronx, but Snyder now had five boroughs’ schools under his wing.

He also took on this job just as the school population swelled with thousands of immigrant children, which overcrowded the schools. On top of that, new advances in education were being devised by the Board of Education, bringing vocational, technical and other specialized high schools into the mix with the city’s public schools.

The Board of Ed’s beancounters did not plan for large enough schools — or enough schools, period. Snyder had his hands full, both in keeping costs down and getting the most from what he was given.