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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 fire department expands out into almost every residential neighborhood. Firehouses were relatively small buildings, and they housed not only the fire trucks and the horses that pulled the fire trucks in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but also housed the firemen who lived for long periods of time on the upper floors of these buildings.

And most of the Manhattan firehouses of the late nineteenth century were designed by the architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun and Sons, whose work we've already seen at the Metropolitan Life Insurance tower. And they designed these very beautiful buildings in many different styles.

This particular example in Greenwich Village on West Tenth Street is an elegant Romanesque-revival building with a cast-iron base because you used cast iron because it was very strong, so in case the fire engine bumped into the ground floor it wouldn't destroy the building, with water cast in as a detail, so that there's water cascading in on this firehouse to symbolize, of course, the importance of water to fighting fires. And then upstairs brick and granite and terra-cotta used in a very elegant manner.

This is the Brooklyn Fire Headquarters, a massive Romanesque-revival style building designed by Brooklyn's most talented late-nineteenth-century architect Frank Freeman, one of the great masterpieces of the Romanesque revival in New York, in 1892, with a tall tower that not only could be very visible to the citizens as a symbol of the importance of the fire department, but also could be used as a fire lookout.


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