The garogyles hanging out over 181st Street

The apartment building they’re carved into doesn’t appear to be anything special.

And thanks to what looks like decades of dirt and grime, these gargoyles are easy to miss.

But if you happen to be on 181st Street between Broadway and Fort Washington Avenue, look up and check out these goofy, expressive faces and figures.

They decorate two sides of the six-story residence, which looks like it dates to the 1930s.

Could they be inspired by the Cloisters, not too far away, with its treasure of Medieval gargoyles from Europe?

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11 Responses to “The garogyles hanging out over 181st Street”

  1. Lady G. Says:

    I love the one reading! That’s hilarious. Thanks for the tip on where to find them.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I love that one too. I just wish I knew what book it was.

  3. Joe R Says:

    I recall that a couple of years back you posted a similar reading gargoyle at the CCNY Harlem campus.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Great memory. That gargoyle is my favorite:
    http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/the-book-reading-grotesque-of-city-college/

  5. Nathan Says:

    I ran across those gargoyles in the late 80′s and I was going nuts a year or two ago trying to remember where the hell they are! You’re going to have to start reading my mind further in advance, please. :)

  6. Bob_in_MA Says:

    Can you tell what the second guy is holding in his hands?

    The stone carvers who did the gargoyles on Washington’s National Cathedral did all sorts of seemingly nonsensical things, like one fellow carrying golf clubs. It turns out they they were depicting each other. There’s a documentary about them.

  7. Quid plura? | “I can see the path you’re cutting…” Says:

    [...] Ephemeral New York spies grotesques on 181st Street. [...]

  8. T.J. Connick Says:

    If it is the building on the corner of Fort Washington Ave, it went up in 1910. It was (is?) the Nathan Hale.

    See it at NY Public Library’s Digital Gallery, Image ID: 417191, where the gothic characteristics are described:

    The Rotunda or Great Hall is a classic conception of great beauty closely following the Gothic style. It is octagonal in shape and designed in Caen stone, elaborately carved, combined with golden Sienna marble, the stained-glass windows being especially designed and representing the four seasons, altogether creating an artistic effect rarely seen.

  9. Dan Kulkosky Says:

    I’ve been wondering about this building for many years. It’s out of place in an area that’s otherwise architecturally undistinguished. The figures look like some I’ve seen elsewhere, although I can’t quite place the memory. How can I found out who carved them and anything else?

  10. Joan Says:

    As a youngster passing by the building, the gargoyles let my imagination run wild!

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