It’s a treat to walk into a nondescript commercial building tucked away on a Manhattan side street, then be greeted by an elaborate scene painted on a lobby wall or ceiling.
Rockefeller Center’s murals are famous, of course. But lesser-known murals from the first half of the 20th century still survive—like at the lovely St. James Building, opened in 1896 on Broadway and 26th Street.
The building’s website tells us that the mural was painted by a French decorating firm called Arthur Brounet, “one of the few remaining of the dozens of originals that adorned Manhattan theaters, hotels, and residences.
This transportation- and industry-themed mural feels very 1920s or 1930s. It adorns the lobby of 322 Eighth Avenue, which appears to have been constructed in the late 1920s.
I’ll take a guess and say that the theme reflected the type of business headquartered there, but I couldn’t find anything on the original tenants.