Brooklyn, one building at a time.

This row of three Neo-Grec row houses is unique in all of New York City. There used to be four, and they were made of an old material that was making a new comeback in 1870s America.

Name: Row houses
Address: 536-540 Clinton Avenue
Cross Streets: Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1872
Architectural Style: French Neo-Grec with Second Empire mansard roofs
Architect: A. S. Barnes
Landmarked: No, but really, really should be

Landmark-worthy material
This group of three houses — originally four — were built in 1872 by A. S. Barnes, who is credited for the design. They are basically Neo-Grec in style, with some important differences. Barnes added mansard roofs and two asymmetrical top floor dormers, as well as two-story, three sided bays.

All of the doors and windows are framed with substantial lintels and framed with decorative incised ornament. The cast iron railings on the remaining buildings are original. As can be seen in the illustration below, the houses also once had cast iron cresting on the roof.

If that was all there was to these houses, they’d still be exceedingly fine. The detail work on this group is first rate.

But what makes them special — and should make them landmark-worthy — is the basic building material. These houses are not painted brownstone, sandstone, or limestone. They are made of Béton Coignet cast stone – concrete.


Image source: Heritage Radio

Yesterday we told you that Mayor Bloomberg has decreed that the rebuilding of the Rockaway boardwalk – and all future NYC boardwalks – will never be built with wood again. Concrete is the other practical material with which to build the Rockaway boardwalk and those to come. Of course, the concrete can be formed into pieces that resemble wood, but it will nowhere be near the real thing.

That said, the only parts of the boardwalk that survived Hurricane Sandy were the ones made with concrete; the wooden parts were thrashed. So what do you think? Is the Mayor right? Or is nostalgia and natural materials more important when it comes to building a boardwalk? Should it actually be made of… boards? We’d love to know your thoughts – leave us a comment here or via twitter at @queensnycity.


Image source: Reuters via Travelers Today – concrete sections of the Rockaway boardwalk

Well, we’ve mentioned this boardwalk debate – wood vs. concrete – before, and had wondered what the decision would be in rebuilding the Rockaway beach boardwalk. Well, the Mayor has spoken – no wooden boardwalks will be constructed… EVER.


Image source: NYDN – Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski near Beach 101st Street

The NY Daily News reports on the “unprecedented” destruction of the Rockaway boardwalk caused by Hurricane Sandy. People knew it was bad but were still astonished at the damage. In the words of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park), “A symbol of the destruction has been the boardwalk.” Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said, “It’s sheer devastation.”