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July 19, 2010

The History of Brownstones in NYC – The Architecture

Filed under: Buying a Home in Jersey City Tags: , — admin @ 8:32 pm

When an individual thinks of “brownstone architecture,” it often conjures up a lifestyle of days gone by. Images of tall front stoops, curved entranceways and turn-of-the-century living often come to mind. The history of Brownstones in NYC truly has a long and celebrated past.

Brownstones in NYC

While many refer to the term “Brownstones in NYC” as an architectural style, it is really more related to a specific type of building material. Over time, the term “brownstones in NYC” began to refer to buildings mined and used prevalently during the late 19th century and early 20th century and ultimately have come to represent a classic style in NYC.

Brownstone (the building material) is brown-colored form of Triassic sandstone that was a popular form of building material a little more than a century ago. Most of the building material used to develop Brownstones in NYC came from the Hummelstown Quarry, just outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Hummelstown Quarry was the largest provider of brownstone on the east coast and at its height, the quarry employed approximately 500 men between 1863 and 1929. The brownstone was known for its red and purple hues and was considered one of the preferred masonry materials of builders in the United States. Once mined, the building material was transported out of the Hummelstown Quarry through the Brownstone and Middletown Railroad or taken by truck up to the Erie Canal. Originally known as the Pennsylvania Brown Free Stone Company and later as the Hummelstown Brownstone Company, this series of quarries are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Surviving Brownstones in NYC

While many original brownstones in NYC were torn down due to neglect, a great effort has been made by historians and those who love this style of architecture to preserve the remaining original and historical brownstone buildings. There are a number of brownstones throughout a number of New York City neighborhoods with the largest numbers of Brownstones in NYC in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Fort Greene, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant. Classic brownstone architecture can also be found in Manhattan’s neighborhood of the Upper West Side.

When anyone watches movies or television shows that were filmed in New York City, a classic brownstone is often found in the background. Brownstones in NYC over the last century have definitely grown to be a icon of this amazing city and no matter how modern New York may become, brownstones in NYC provide a unique look into its past.

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