Neo-Mayan Facades of the West Bronx: One Full View and One Detail

Art Deco west Bronx: Noonan Plaza, Highbridge Heights, Bronx, NY.  Constructed, 1931.  Architect, Horace Ginsbern. Photograph, 2012. (Fuji X100) Click to enlarge,

Neo-Mayan Art Deco  Bronx: Noonan Plaza, W. 168th St. Highbridge Heights, Bronx, NY. Constructed, 1931. Architect, Horace Ginsbern. Photograph, 2012. (Fuji X100) Click to enlarge,

Facades of the West Bronx, a modernist entree into America and into real and illusory dreams of social mobility for hundreds of thousands fleeing the oppression and degradation of the Lower East Side more than three-quarters of a century ago. Linear design, economy (or penury?) of materials, and just enough ornamentation to break monotony and enable fantasy.  For a new generation of inhabitants arriving in the 1970s, such facades comprised the grim face of a socioeconomic ghetto in decline.  As to the future: May this neighborhood remain a place for those who fight their way up, rather than of gentrifiers who usurp and flatten through economic privilege and disposable cash.

Detail, Service Entrance, Mayan-inspired terracotta tiles, Park Plaza Apartments, Jerome Avenue, Highbridge Heights, Bronx, New York.  Constructed: 1929-1931.  Architects: Horace Ginsbern, Marvin Fine. The six-pack of Heineken is fortuitous.  2012. (Fuji X100). Click to enlarge.

Detail, Service Entrance, Mayan-inspired terracotta tiles, Park Plaza Apartments, Jerome Avenue, Highbridge Heights, Bronx, New York. Constructed: 1929-1931. Architects: Horace Ginsbern, Marvin Fine. The six-pack of Heineken is fortuitous. 2012. (Fuji X100). Click to enlarge.

From: White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot; Leadon, Fran (2010-05-29). AIA Guide to New York City, Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition:

Noonan Apartments

“These seven-story apartments, arranged to form a quadrangle, are entered diagonally through a highly decorative masonry arcade that leads to a central court, the original splendors of which can only be guessed at today. Art Deco-cumMayan was then the idiosyncratic style of the Ginsbern firm.”

Park Plaza Apartments

“One of the earliest (and best) Art Deco–inspired apartment buildings in the Bronx. Influenced both by the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, and motifs from Mayan architecture then fashionable. Note the elaborate polychromed terracotta ornament. The façade is Fine’s work, the body Ginsbern’s.”

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