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New York's most iconic Art Deco buildings, mapped

From the Financial District to the Bronx, 15 Art Deco structures not to miss

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New York City is by no means a place with a unified architectural style, and that’s one of the things that makes it so darn beautiful. But some of the city’s most iconic structures do share a common theme: Art Deco design, found in the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, to name just two.

In his book New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age Architecture, Anthony W. Robins defines the fluid style that’s given character to some of the city’s most beloved structures: “It is flowery and it is zigzag; it is intimate and it is monolithic; it is abstract and it is figurative; it is Roaring Twenties Extravagant and it is Depression-era cheap.”

What all does that boil down to? Below, we’ve mapped some of the city’s most notable buildings exemplifying the beloved architectural style.

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One Wall Street

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Ralph Walker's limestone-clad 1 Wall Street is an Art Deco beauty inside and out. The 50-story building was constructed during the same period as the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, and it was originally occupied by the Irving Trust Company. It features setbacks characteristic of Art Deco, as well as vertical designs etched along the faceted facade, but the interiors are what truly make it special. The building's soaring double-height lobby on Wall Street, the bank's original reception room, is a stunning space designed by Hildreth Meiere. Known as the Red Room, it's covered with a mosaic of red, gold, and orange tiles that were made in Berlin. On the 49th floor, an observation room occupies "a gaspingly high space," as the Times says, with vaulted ceilings covered with shells from the Philippines. The building is currently undergoing a residential conversion at the hands of developer Harry Macklowe.

DBOX for Macklowe Properties

70 Pine Street

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Built in 1930 for CITGO by Clinton & Russell, Holton and George, 70 Pine once claimed the distinction of the world’s third tallest building. At 952 feet, it’s still tall by today’s standards. The building, Robins says, “rises in subtle setbacks like an elaborate, elongated faceted jewel of Indiana limestone and white brick to a glass-enclosed solarium with an illuminated lantern” that’s said to be visible up to 20 miles away. The interiors are a prize too, with the lobby spaces featuring “polychromatic marble, rippling marble walls, beamed plaster ceilings, and gorgeous, abstract geometric Art Deco aluminum metalwork on everything from elevator doors to mailboxes,” much of which is on full display following the tower’s recent conversion into rentals.

Western Union Building

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Once home to all of the operations of the Western Union Telegraph Company, the imposing building at 60 Hudson Street now serves as a carrier hotel that holds a multitude of components—cables, network operators, and the like—that keep the internet up and running. The building is the work of Art Deco master Ralph Walker, who included 19 different shades of brick on the facade that gradually lighten as they go upwards. A renovation to the building 30 years ago makes it hard to see some of the color changing effect, but Robins notes it’s still visible with a little effort.

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The Walker Tower

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Before it was Walker Tower, home to many a celebrity and high net worth individual, this glorious 23-story building was a central hub for Verizon, storing copper wire that made the telecommunications company run. The building was constructed in 1929 and designed by Ralph Walker, named architect of the century by the New York Times in 1957. No surprise here, JDS and Property Markets Group’s condo conversion takes its name from the lauded architect.

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Empire State Building

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The world’s tallest building upon its completion in 1931, the Empire State Building sets a tone for the Manhattan skyline—but as Robins notes, the building “has become such an icon beyond its architectural design that its style seems almost beyond the point.” The keyword there is almost, as the Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon design takes up the geometric patterns so common in Art Deco architecture. This is particularly seen in the building’s columns of windows (here framed in aluminum.)

Bryant Park Hotel

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Now the Bryant Park Hotel, the glorious Art Deco building on the southern rim of Bryant Park was built as the American Radiator Building and is instantly recognizable for its dark facade and stunning gold crown and accents. Robins describes the building best: “Completed one year before the 1925 Paris exposition that gave Art Deco its name, the Radiator Building still reflects an eclectic, early-1920s approach, with spires and niches and gargoyles that might feel at home on the back door of a French country church...” The architect, Raymond Hood, is also behind Chicago’s Tribune Tower.

Chrysler Building

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The Chrysler Building was very briefly the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1930, but the stunning Art Deco architecture is what sets it apart to this day. Designed by William Van Alen, the Chrysler is known for its elegant, terraced crown, with a sunburst pattern; its grand eagles, which stand sentry on the 61st floor; and the radiator caps on the 31st floor, an homage to the company whose name graces the building.

Paramount Building

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Located at 1501 Broadway, the landmarked Paramount Building was built in 1927 as the headquarters of Paramount Pictures. In accordance with the times, the building has a stepped-back facade, with its iconic arched entryway getting some lovely Art Deco detailing. Now, it's home to the Hard Rock Cafe.

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30 Rockefeller Plaza

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Designed by Raymond Hood and a consortium of other noted architects of the time, 30 Rock became the centerpiece of the ambitious Rockefeller Center complex. Per the AIA Guide to New York, “The skin is straightforward, modern, and unencumbered by the need for stylishness—but stylish nevertheless. Perhaps the most undated modern monument that New York City enjoys.” Once the headquarters to RCA, the building is now controlled by Comcast.

Radio City Music Hall

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Radio City, completed in 1932, was another part of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s ambitious Rockefeller Plaza master plan. Architect Edward Durrell Stone and interior designer Donald Deskey teamed up to realize this Art Deco masterpiece. “One has the feeling that the atmosphere of the place of the place will be gay... [especially] Donald Deskey’s dizzily mirrored women’s powder room,” wrote a New Yorker critic in 1933. It turns out they were spot on: the so-called Showplace of the Nation has been charming all who set foot in it since.

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The Eldorado

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Classically oriented architect Emory Roth teamed up with relatively unknown architecture duo Margon & Holder to complete the legendary Eldorado. Painted metal finials, intricate brickwork, and geometric spires lend the building its Art Deco character. As Robins writes about its facade, “The more you look at the details of this relatively simple facade, the more you’ll see.”

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181st Street subway station

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This A train stop opened in 1932, back when the MTA had some real artistic flair. Columbia grad Squire J. Vickers is to thank for this ornament. Catch the most clear example of Art Deco style at the station’s entrance on Fort Washington Avenue, where a cast stone facade and a distinctly Deco subway sign can be found.

Bronx General Post Office

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The Bronx General Post Office shows fewer marks of a traditional Art Deco building, but it nonetheless won the distinction of being an “excellent example” of a government building displaying modern influence in its design at the Architectural Forum of June 1938. A set of 13 publicly funded murals inside the building depict people at work throughout the country. Artist Ben Shahn said in a 1944 interview that the idea behind the murals he created with Bernarda Bryson was to “show the people of the Bronx something about America outside of New York.”

Marine Air Terminal

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While JFK's landmarked TWA Terminal gets a lot of design love, LaGuardia's landmarked Marine Air Terminal often goes less lauded, but the Art Deco structure is arguably the best part of the oft-derided airport. William Delano designed the round building in 1940, and according to the National Parks Service, it "remains the only active airport terminal dating from the first generation of passenger travel in the United States." A decorative mosaic of flying fish rings the top of the exterior, and inside hangs James Brooks's mural Flight. 

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Brooklyn Public Library (Central Library)

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The Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch wasn’t intended to be an Art Deco building. Construction began on a structure in the early 1900s, but politics and delays plagued the project for decades to come. In 1935, the library tossed its original, more classic design for the site and hired Alfred Morton Githens and Francis Keally to design a new building for the site. Some of the original structure was salvaged but much of the original ornamentation was scrapped in favor of a more modern approach. The library finally opened its doors in 1941. “As...one approaches the new building, the effect is unexpectedly exhilarating” wrote New Yorker critic Lewis Mumford in 1940. It remains that way to this day.

Shutterstock

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One Wall Street

DBOX for Macklowe Properties

Ralph Walker's limestone-clad 1 Wall Street is an Art Deco beauty inside and out. The 50-story building was constructed during the same period as the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, and it was originally occupied by the Irving Trust Company. It features setbacks characteristic of Art Deco, as well as vertical designs etched along the faceted facade, but the interiors are what truly make it special. The building's soaring double-height lobby on Wall Street, the bank's original reception room, is a stunning space designed by Hildreth Meiere. Known as the Red Room, it's covered with a mosaic of red, gold, and orange tiles that were made in Berlin. On the 49th floor, an observation room occupies "a gaspingly high space," as the Times says, with vaulted ceilings covered with shells from the Philippines. The building is currently undergoing a residential conversion at the hands of developer Harry Macklowe.

DBOX for Macklowe Properties

70 Pine Street

Built in 1930 for CITGO by Clinton & Russell, Holton and George, 70 Pine once claimed the distinction of the world’s third tallest building. At 952 feet, it’s still tall by today’s standards. The building, Robins says, “rises in subtle setbacks like an elaborate, elongated faceted jewel of Indiana limestone and white brick to a glass-enclosed solarium with an illuminated lantern” that’s said to be visible up to 20 miles away. The interiors are a prize too, with the lobby spaces featuring “polychromatic marble, rippling marble walls, beamed plaster ceilings, and gorgeous, abstract geometric Art Deco aluminum metalwork on everything from elevator doors to mailboxes,” much of which is on full display following the tower’s recent conversion into rentals.

Western Union Building

Shutterstock

Once home to all of the operations of the Western Union Telegraph Company, the imposing building at 60 Hudson Street now serves as a carrier hotel that holds a multitude of components—cables, network operators, and the like—that keep the internet up and running. The building is the work of Art Deco master Ralph Walker, who included 19 different shades of brick on the facade that gradually lighten as they go upwards. A renovation to the building 30 years ago makes it hard to see some of the color changing effect, but Robins notes it’s still visible with a little effort.

Shutterstock

The Walker Tower

Property Shark

Before it was Walker Tower, home to many a celebrity and high net worth individual, this glorious 23-story building was a central hub for Verizon, storing copper wire that made the telecommunications company run. The building was constructed in 1929 and designed by Ralph Walker, named architect of the century by the New York Times in 1957. No surprise here, JDS and Property Markets Group’s condo conversion takes its name from the lauded architect.

Property Shark

Empire State Building

The world’s tallest building upon its completion in 1931, the Empire State Building sets a tone for the Manhattan skyline—but as Robins notes, the building “has become such an icon beyond its architectural design that its style seems almost beyond the point.” The keyword there is almost, as the Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon design takes up the geometric patterns so common in Art Deco architecture. This is particularly seen in the building’s columns of windows (here framed in aluminum.)

Bryant Park Hotel

Now the Bryant Park Hotel, the glorious Art Deco building on the southern rim of Bryant Park was built as the American Radiator Building and is instantly recognizable for its dark facade and stunning gold crown and accents. Robins describes the building best: “Completed one year before the 1925 Paris exposition that gave Art Deco its name, the Radiator Building still reflects an eclectic, early-1920s approach, with spires and niches and gargoyles that might feel at home on the back door of a French country church...” The architect, Raymond Hood, is also behind Chicago’s Tribune Tower.

Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building was very briefly the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1930, but the stunning Art Deco architecture is what sets it apart to this day. Designed by William Van Alen, the Chrysler is known for its elegant, terraced crown, with a sunburst pattern; its grand eagles, which stand sentry on the 61st floor; and the radiator caps on the 31st floor, an homage to the company whose name graces the building.

Paramount Building

Shutterstock

Located at 1501 Broadway, the landmarked Paramount Building was built in 1927 as the headquarters of Paramount Pictures. In accordance with the times, the building has a stepped-back facade, with its iconic arched entryway getting some lovely Art Deco detailing. Now, it's home to the Hard Rock Cafe.

Shutterstock

30 Rockefeller Plaza

Designed by Raymond Hood and a consortium of other noted architects of the time, 30 Rock became the centerpiece of the ambitious Rockefeller Center complex. Per the AIA Guide to New York, “The skin is straightforward, modern, and unencumbered by the need for stylishness—but stylish nevertheless. Perhaps the most undated modern monument that New York City enjoys.” Once the headquarters to RCA, the building is now controlled by Comcast.

Radio City Music Hall

Shutterstock

Radio City, completed in 1932, was another part of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s ambitious Rockefeller Plaza master plan. Architect Edward Durrell Stone and interior designer Donald Deskey teamed up to realize this Art Deco masterpiece. “One has the feeling that the atmosphere of the place of the place will be gay... [especially] Donald Deskey’s dizzily mirrored women’s powder room,” wrote a New Yorker critic in 1933. It turns out they were spot on: the so-called Showplace of the Nation has been charming all who set foot in it since.

Shutterstock

The Eldorado

Shutterstock

Classically oriented architect Emory Roth teamed up with relatively unknown architecture duo Margon & Holder to complete the legendary Eldorado. Painted metal finials, intricate brickwork, and geometric spires lend the building its Art Deco character. As Robins writes about its facade, “The more you look at the details of this relatively simple facade, the more you’ll see.”

Shutterstock

181st Street subway station

This A train stop opened in 1932, back when the MTA had some real artistic flair. Columbia grad Squire J. Vickers is to thank for this ornament. Catch the most clear example of Art Deco style at the station’s entrance on Fort Washington Avenue, where a cast stone facade and a distinctly Deco subway sign can be found.

Bronx General Post Office

The Bronx General Post Office shows fewer marks of a traditional Art Deco building, but it nonetheless won the distinction of being an “excellent example” of a government building displaying modern influence in its design at the Architectural Forum of June 1938. A set of 13 publicly funded murals inside the building depict people at work throughout the country. Artist Ben Shahn said in a 1944 interview that the idea behind the murals he created with Bernarda Bryson was to “show the people of the Bronx something about America outside of New York.”

Marine Air Terminal

Shutterstock

While JFK's landmarked TWA Terminal gets a lot of design love, LaGuardia's landmarked Marine Air Terminal often goes less lauded, but the Art Deco structure is arguably the best part of the oft-derided airport. William Delano designed the round building in 1940, and according to the National Parks Service, it "remains the only active airport terminal dating from the first generation of passenger travel in the United States." A decorative mosaic of flying fish rings the top of the exterior, and inside hangs James Brooks's mural Flight. 

Shutterstock

Brooklyn Public Library (Central Library)

Shutterstock

The Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch wasn’t intended to be an Art Deco building. Construction began on a structure in the early 1900s, but politics and delays plagued the project for decades to come. In 1935, the library tossed its original, more classic design for the site and hired Alfred Morton Githens and Francis Keally to design a new building for the site. Some of the original structure was salvaged but much of the original ornamentation was scrapped in favor of a more modern approach. The library finally opened its doors in 1941. “As...one approaches the new building, the effect is unexpectedly exhilarating” wrote New Yorker critic Lewis Mumford in 1940. It remains that way to this day.