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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Public Realm Neighborhood Buildings
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The school system expands enormously, beginning in the 1860s and '70s, and especially at the turn of the century as more and more immigrants are coming. And there is an effort to Americanize the children of the immigrants by teaching them American values in the school system. You get huge numbers of public schools being built in residential neighborhoods. This is the former P.S. 71 in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, which was designed in 1888 by the Brooklyn Board of Education. And it is a very fashionable three-dimensional French-inspired building with a beautiful mansard roof with an iron cresting at the top.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the idea of the high school begins to develop, something we take for granted, but the idea of the public high school was a relatively new idea. And extraordinarily impressive high schools are built, one in each borough.

And this is Curtis High School on Staten Island from 1904. These high schools were almost invariably designed in a collegiate Gothic style, a style that resembled the educational buildings at Oxford and Cambridge, and had come to symbolize education. And that's very evident at Curtis High School.


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