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History Lessons

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Streetscapes scion and master nostalgia-generator Christopher Gray mourns the loss of that great architectural flourish: the cornice. He recalls the city's most beautiful, and explains how they faded from fashion over time because buildings grew taller, acquired setbacks, and began to put ornamentation at the end of the priority list. "From the late 1890s until World War I, no self-respecting midsize office building or apartment house would be seen in public without a cornice," he writes. "Perhaps, like hats for men and white gloves for ladies, cornices do nothing but add to the beauty of the city—is that not enough?" [NYT]