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June 30, 2010

The History of Brownstones in NYC

Filed under: Buying a Home in Jersey City Tags: — admin @ 9:20 pm

Brownstones in NYC are a huge part of the history and the evolution of New York City. From the late 19th century to today, these special buildings have been highly sought after.

Brownstones in NYC

The neighborhoods of Park Slope, Fort Greene, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, and Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn and the Upper West Side in Manhattan are famous for their brownstones.

The brownstone building material on the East Coast of the U.S. was most often provided by the Hummelstown Quarry, which is why the style and look of Brownstones in NYC is often referred to as Hummelstown Brownstone. The Hummelstown Quarry provided brownstone building material up and down the East Coast via either the Erie Canal or the Brownstone and Middletown Railroad. Brownstone from the Hummelstown Quarry was often identified by its dark color and red and purple hues.

The brownstone building material is a brown Triassic sandstone which was a popular building material during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Later on, the term “brownstone” began to refer to an architectural style found around the United States, including New York, New Jersey, Boston and Chicago. Brownstones in NYC are easily identified by their dramatic entranceways, front steps and, of course, its brownish-colored façade. The term also often referrers to the row-houses often found in major cities like New York and Chicago.

Pop Culture and Brownstones in NYC

Since their popularity has grown, brownstones in NYC have become a part of modern-day pop culture. For example, Rex Stout’s character in Nero Wolfe lived in a lovely brownstone on West 35th Street, even though no brownstones were ever actually located in that area of Manhattan. In the mid-1950’s, the Ricardos lived in a brownstone apartment building on 68th Street owned by their friends the Mertzes on I Love Lucy. The Huxtable Family of The Cosby Showon air during the 1980’s and early 1990’s, lived in a Brooklyn Brownstone. Even Sesame Street has been part of the brownstone pop culture. Characters Gordon and Susan own the brownstone on 123 Sesame Street and are land lords to Bert and Ernie.

Brownstones in NYC

The history of brownstones in NYC is a long one and those who love the architecture of New York, understand and appreciate the part brownstones have played.

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