Name: Appellate Division, NY State Supreme Court, Second Judicial Department
Address: 45 Monroe Place
Location: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1938
Architect: Slee & Bryson
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court house definitely catch your eye when you visiting the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. Why? Not only because it is beautiful architecture. Also because it’s a courthouse located middle of a residential neighborhood. During our class trip. We passed by mansions built for the rich, the fine apartment buildings and elegant churches. It’s a beautiful Limestone clad with a granite base. It has a pair of large Doric Columns at the front entrance and other Classical Details. You can notice some Elements of Art Deco (which tells us the age of the building): The Bronze Doorway and Grillwork are shining and react to the sunlight. The Limestone and Granite used to construct this building cannot be find anywhere else. It’s really beautiful. And light colored. Truly a beautiful and simple design.
The Erie Canal was the starting point for designing a major city. Having a quick transportation route run through to transport people and goods was the start of making businesses popular. The Erie Canal cost $7 million dollars to build but reduced shipping costs significantly. The ease of trade encouraged migration and the development of farms through the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. Farm fresh produce could be distributed to the growing metropolitan regions of the east and consumer merchandises could be transported west. Before 1825, more than 85% of the population of New York State lived in rural villages of less than 3,000 people. With the opening of the Erie Canal, the urban to rural ratio began to change dramatically. Goods and people were transported quickly along the Erie Canal and the freight sped along the canal at about 55 miles per 24-hour period. There was an express passenger service that moved through at 100 miles per 24-hour period.
During the 1860 and 1870 hundreds of tenement multiple dwelling units were built primary on the lower side of the city for the poor immigrants that arrived.
The immigrants mostly German and Dutch who escaped from their home countries had to face with the new reality and the poor conditions of living in contrast to their hopes for new life.
The dwelling units were built on 25 foot wide lots that were part of the grids layout of the city. the lots that were supposed to be used for single family houses eventually were used for buildings housing around 20 families each.
Because at this time the architecture in the city just started its way in development there were very little lows for regulation and protection such as for fire safety and those few lows were mostly ignored by the owners because there wasn’t any one to regulate them.
It is hard to imagine but in addition to the economy and labor difficulties that the immigrants had to face their living conditions were even worst. they lived in very crowded conditions, each apartment had only one room with window, there was almost no light, no ventilation and no water in the buildings although it was exist in the city.
In addition, those buildings had toilets only in the backyards that were allowed to be flashed once a day with a permission from owner representatives.
The poor sanitation and living conditions that the immigrants had to live with brought sicknesses and early deaths for many of them.
The poor living conditions of the immigrants even brought reactions against it such as Ernest Flagg a well known architect who wrote that” the greatest evil which ever befell New York City was the division of the blocks into lots of 25×100 feet”.
In 1825, the gates for rapid economic and population growth opened to New York City (NYC). The Erie Canal, considered one of the world’s great wonder, connected NYC to the rest of the Continent starting a growth faster to the city than it has seen in over 200 years. The land was fertile, the ground was solid for construction, there were animals for food, but there were not an easy way to export and import goods from other parts of the continent.
The Erie Canal was not built without opposition, even though it was one of the longest man made canal of its time, the fastest and cheapest to build and the least amount of experienced workers; there were people who opposed this venture, because of the increase of taxes and the possibility that it will fail to serve its purpose. Even though risky Governor DeWitt Clinton persisted with his vision and influence to construct this canal.
At this time in NYC history, the city was prosperous with a population of 165,000 and an available capital in the banks of $25 million. When the canal was completed the cost of shipping goods were reduced by 95% and the population growth in five years after the canal was 202,589 and in the next thirty years it quadrupled. The canal promoted the fast pace growth of NYC and encouraged immigrants from Europe.
This Canal almost 200 years after its completion serves the purpose it was designed for, bringing goods to New York State and taking out to the world. It has influenced the growth of the city economically and population. Today this city is one of the most desired cities in the world and has developed to one of the most powerful places in the world. The population in NYC has grown from 160,000 in 1825 to 8.3 million. From small Wooden houses to Buildings that stretch beyond the surface. From an opposed vision to an accepted change, The Erie Canal has changed the way people view NYC.
Rich people started moving into apartment houses in the early nineteenth century. The tenements were erected largely for poor immigrants. As these tenements were built there was hardly any laws regulating tenement construction. Although having a fire escape was mandatory. The earliest tenements were built on a 25ft wide lot with hardly no amenities. These lots were planned to house single family but they were housing 20 or 22 in the building. They’re just like the building that the Tenement Museum now occupies on Orchard Street on the lower east side. With 3 rooms in each apartment with only one of them having a window, made it very difficult to have light or ventilation in the inner rooms. Even though Orchard street had access to water and sewage owners were not required to hook up lines in their buildings so many of them had no water in their buildings. There were toilets in the back yards but could only be flushed by the owners representative just once a day if that. So people lived in very poor conditions and in big crowded situations. I the mid-nineteenth century most immigrants in New York were Irish and German. Little maintenance was done to the buildings and conditions got worse at the end of the nineteenth century.
New York City harbors were used for trade and business. To get to the west was a long voyage. The creation of the Erie Canal made it easier, faster, and cheaper to travel and transport goods. The Eire canal also created jobs which were hard to find. The overcrowding of the city made it very competitive to obtain a job. Ethnic groups established societies that were on hand to help immigrants find homes and jobs.
Older buildings were converted into several apartments. The old brewery in five points could be considered the first tenement house. Building were four of five stories high with narrow hallways. The conditions were horrible. They were dark dirty and smelly. The population per acre rose to 165.5 persons in 1850. The rent varied between $3.00 and $13.00 even with an apartment with windows. The immigrants rarely complained about rent. The landlord threatened the immigrants of eviction because there was always someone else waiting for rooms. The water came from a street pump or well in the back of the building where the toilet was located. Water was carried to the kitchen sinks from the outside. They didn’t have bathtubs or showers. They went to bath houses or in the river. It was difficult to keep clean under these horrible conditions. Many died from disease and infections.
The construction of the Erie Canal was a major development for New York, resulting in a revolution of transport and settlers flooding in from the West to the East. Although the new Canal brought a movement of poor immigrants to New York, the city was ill equipped to house all of the new citizens. The city’s proposed idea was to construct large multifamily dwellings called tenements to shelter the immigrants. Ironically, while tenement housing did solve the problem dealing with living spaces for immigrant laborers, their poor quality design and sanitation became an even worse problem for the immigrant settlers to deal with.
The tenements were designed mainly to take advantage of the 25 foot x 100 foot lot, resulting in very slim buildings but with more floors to include rooms. These buildings were clearly built to fill quantity rather than quality though. To fit as much people as possible, each floor was designed to accommodate approximately 20 families at a time, resulting in ridiculously cramped living quarters. These apartment rooms also lacked the most basic necessities such as kitchens and toilets. It was common for each floor to have only one or two public bathroom, which every family on the same floor shared. In addition, due to multiple tenement buildings being erected in very close proximities, they would block out the sunlight from each other. If a building was lucky, one or two of the families would receive sunlight through their windows.
Due to the cramped living conditions, sanitation was also deplorable in tenement houses. Due to the lack of a proper sewage and water system, most tenement families were content with just dumping their trash on the floor and outside on the streets; resulting in germs, animals, and disease to move in with them. The cramped quarters made it even easier for disease to spread as when one family with a sickness would often spread it to the adjacent families, whom themselves spread it to their adjacent families, repeating until the entire floor was infected.
The tenement buildings were a result of poor planning and a lack of care for the actual living conditions of its tenants. While the Erie Canal did bring a variety of wealth to New York, it also created the need of tenements: a poorly planned and maintained experiment. However, not all is a sense of disappointment with the tenements. It was due to the attention brought upon these sanitation violations that led to the improvement of living conditions by law, leading to the modern building code of today.
The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 was a revolution in several ways, most of which lead to the success of New York as a trading port city. Known as Clinton’s Folly, referencing the “mistake” of Governor De Witt Clinton for backing such a risky project, the Canal turned out to be the city’s best source of new revenue during the 1800’s.
The first impact of the Erie Canal was the direct bridging of Albany, New York and Buffalo, New York. This direct line improved and minimized two things, the time and money required to transport people or goods from the East to the West and vice versa. By canal boat, the trip from Buffalo to Albany was sped to only a little above an hour, compared to conventional means on road. Shipping cost for services and goods was also reduced to about 90% of the original costs it took pre-Erie Canal era.
With the quick and cheap relocation time came immigrant settlers from the East, who are more than eager to move to New York. With these immigrant settlers also came new goods from their specific culture, generating a new source of trade and revenue.
New jobs revolving around the canal such as boat maintenance were also created, making an even bigger innovation for the immigrants to come. In addition, the business rivalry between the steamboat transportation/shipping and railroads led to an improvement of both businesses as both tried to reel in customers.
With the new canal came the introduction of a huge line of business revenue for New York, leading to an increase of population, a new route of travel and trade, and new occupation improvements. The Erie Canal was known as a huge mistake at the time of its construction but it was proven incredibly wrong after a few years.
Reading in Lankevich I liked learning a little bit more about the making of Central Park. Back when I lived in San Francisco I remember learning about Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape architect, and being impressed. We have Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, which is our large park (larger than Central Park), which is from around the same time but it’s design is less manicured. I liked that Olmstead’s design was so clean, and so recognizable. There’s a really good book actually, The Devil In The White City, and it talks about him designing the grounds for the Chicago World’s Fair. Anyway, I liked learning more details about Central Park, how it’s construction was delayed because of the Civil War, which I guess could be implied when you know the date of it’s construction but I frankly never thought about it. I also didn’t know that Bryant Park and Madison Square Park are the oldest parks in the city, that’s interesting to me because I’ve eaten lunch in Madison Square Park plenty of times. It was also interesting to learn that CentralsPark’s land was useless “Goose Pasture”, that’s pretty funny considering how expensive that area is now. I guess the other funny thing from the reading was that people wanted to prohibit alcohol in the mid 19th century, I only knew about the prohibition of the 1920’s. Also, that there were mob bosses at that time, I didn’t know that, and that they were actually beneficial and did a lot.